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GM CEO Fritz Henderson Speaks: Live blog

Posted by: David Kiley on March 31, 2009

Acting General Motors CEO Fritz Henderson conducted his first press conference this morning in Detroit. He has been at GM for more than 20 years, and has been a very close associate of just-ousted chairman and CEO G. Richard Wagoner Jr. who was asked to step down last Friday by the Obama Administration.

GM has 60 days to hammer out a new restructuring plan. If it can’t, the government will compel GM to go into a quick Chapter 11.

New GM CEO Henderson Speaks:

A quick bankruptcy is more likely than not.

We don’t need more time to get operational restructuring done. We need constituents to come to the table.

I won’t prejudge what sacrifices need to be made by UAW and bond holders. That’s done at the negotiating table.

More GM factories likely to close.

We have been in dialogue on a Hummer sale with several parties. We are within weeks of a decision.

Saturn will take more time to sort out. If no buyer, Saturn goes away after 2011.

He speaks Portuguese.

I don’t worry about whether or not Obama wants me beyond 60 days. I was hired by the board. If they want to replace me, they can.

Chap. 11s can be sloppy and value destructive. It wouldn't be my first choice.

We are capable of doing restructuring out of court, but we may need Chapter 11 to get it done fast.

We may need more attrition programs to reduce employees.

GM's annual meeting is in August. It's been pushed back. And we will see many new board members, I think. The Obama Admin. has asked for it, but we were already on that track.

Though March 31 we haven't had to take additional money and we may not in the next 30 days. We'll see.

We are a big proponent of a scrappage program. It has worked really well in Germany where sales are up double digits.

The task force told us that 2014 was too long to get some of the restructuring done. [kiley: no kidding].

We need to pull forward the reduction of dealers. We were doing it. We need to do it faster.

White House is providing funding and oversight. [Kiley-The White House is an angry shareholder].

The President said he has no interest in running GM. They want a plan that is viable and can fund new tech.

We have to take what's already been done and pull things fwd. and take things two steps deeper.

He is Michigan born and raised.

Reader Comments

Jim Samuel

March 31, 2009 1:57 PM

In all the discussions about GM and restructuring, why is it that one change I never see is the need for the company to make cars people want to buy. Sure, quality has improved, but their cars are still boring and better suited for a rental car fleet than in my driveway.


March 31, 2009 11:08 PM

The fact that GM doesn't currently build a vehicle you want hasn't stopped them from selling more cars than any other manufacturer on the planet for years. Your comment has been repeated for years and still doesn't make sense. The problem for GM has never been their vehicles... It's the management that has repeatedly folded to the demands of the union which has sucked the life out of the company and trickled down to vehicle quality.

What's worse is politicians who blame the current problems in the automotive industry on auto execs, workers and bond holders when the current problem started in the housing market. In comparison, no pressure at all is being put on the banking execs to fix the problems they created along with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. No, that may cause people to realize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are in fact products of the Democratic party. Credit them for the fact that in many areas people with good credit can't get loans to buy homes. Currently even the best manufacturing companies in the U.S. are cutting jobs. The credit crunch is being felt everywhere; not just the auto industry.


April 1, 2009 7:55 AM the last month I had two local business trips, one in a Camry and one in a Malibu. I'd take the Malibu any day. I could of fallen asleep at the wheel of the Toyota it was so vanilla boring.

Richard L. Cobb

April 1, 2009 10:48 AM

I think GM should bring back the Astro All Wheel Drive Vans. The vans where the right size for small and large businesses in the service industry. None other van compaired to them. If they would ask previous owner I think they would get the same answers. They are used a lot for School transportation
and others. You can not find many that are left for sale because the people liked them that much. I for one would purchase another one for my business my present one has almost 200,000 miles on it and still runs great.


April 2, 2009 4:06 AM

Flyerby: I do not agree with your comments at all. Ford, Mazda, and others have brought a new and attractive line of designs. GM (and Chrysler) is stuck with a bunch of very dated looking unexciting vehicles (except the Insignia,and maybe the Volt, but that is not available for at least 1-2 years anyway).

rj chicago

April 2, 2009 10:59 AM

I had to pause a moment earlier this week when I had heard that the Obama admin. essentially fired the head of a PRIVATE corporation. So be warned ye of the United States electorate!!!
This act of govt. bullying brought back a flood of memories regarding a trip I took with my family to Italy two years ago. During our stay our host who owned outright the agritourismo farm where we stayed was given no fore warning of a pair of 'representatives' of the Italian State taxing authority who proceeded to rifle through her finance records. They took her computer for several days to scoure through it looking for information related to the business and God only knows what else. They did this with no search warrant and utter impunity!!! There was effectively no rule of law from what I could ascertain in my discussion not only with our host but others in Italy as well.
Folks - look out!!! If the govt. is given the passive response it has been granted to date by the citizens of this country - the experience I witnessed first hand in Italy (a country that has adopted European socialism) will be what we will be living with in the not too distant future.
Don't be fooled by Giethner, Emmanuel and others of the new administration into believing that the current regulatory system is a failure. The system is in place already and though asleep at the wheel lo these last several years - we don't need MORE regulation - rather regulation that works and is accountable to the American people.
Govt is to serve the people not the people to serve govt.


April 8, 2009 12:31 PM

I have been trying to get someone at GM or the govt to listen to my idea but have hit a brick wall on it. I am offering my bond, and the bonds of others would follow i think, in exchange for a GM car which is sitting on the lot unsold. If thousands of bondholders took up that deal GM would reduce their 8%+ debt and also their inventory of 2008 cars at the same time. It is a win win deal for them and the small bondholders all over the country. If anyone knows how to get GM to listen, please advise me.

Freeman White, Sr.

April 9, 2009 12:06 PM

My wife (Elizabeth D. White) just purcased her first car after 37 years of marriage from Rippy Cadillac of Wil-
mington, NC. It was 2006 Cadillac STS
with very low mileage. Awesome car. Yet
they refuse to give us (2) keys w/Cadill
ac imblems on them. The saleman just said we only needs keys just to get in it. I am sorry we even purchased the car
with such sorry service we received.

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