Wagoner Out at GM

Posted by: Dan Beucke on March 29, 2009

Rick Wagoner has agreed to step down as CEO of General Motors. BusinessWeek’s Detroit bureau chief David Welch confirms that after eight tumultuous years of running the largest automaker, Wagoner will take the fall as the federal government prepares to extend more billions of taxpayer money to keep GM (and Chrysler) afloat. Wagoner, 56, had previous denied he would step down, and he resisted efforts to push GM into bankruptcy reorganization. But it looks like his is the scalp that must be offered up to ensure that unions, debt holders, and others will make the sacrifices the Obama auto team is demanding. The Obama team is scheduled to talk about new loans for the automakers, and its demands for more cost reductions, on Monday.

Reader Comments

econguy

March 29, 2009 6:47 PM

He probably did not like the diggs at the old exec office bldg next to the White House where GM will be run, alongside the Census, Citigroup, and AIG.

GM Employee

March 29, 2009 6:48 PM

Once again the Obama administration is acting more like communists. Who the hell do they think the are telling a private citizen to step down from his job. This does absolutely nothing to turn this company around. Why don't they ask Gettelfinger to step down as well? I was at a plant last year and watched as the entire workforce walked off their jobs. This was repeated at several locations. How much do you think that cost the corporation? Where is the outrage from Americans as they watch the current administration trample all over the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. America, you are watching your country being destroyed.

nick

March 29, 2009 6:53 PM

yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes

Keith S

March 29, 2009 6:57 PM

A tough way to leave a life's career. Obama is going for the throat. Those insolvent bank CEOs should be expected to fall on their swords as well, but will they have the fortitude to do the honourable thing as Mr Wagoner has done?

Outsider

March 29, 2009 7:01 PM

Just a fall guy. Taking the rap for a devastated market, with no buyers.

Luis B Aramburu

March 29, 2009 7:23 PM

Finally, finally, finally! These are great news! The most incompetent CEO in the history of capitalism has been fired. (I'm basing the previous statement on a) market share loss, b) market capitalization lost and c) losses during his stint at the helm. If somebody can find somebody in the history of capitalism with a worse record than Wagoner, I'll be glad to correct my assertion).
On the other hand one has to wonder where were the members of the board of directors. They should all be fired also. And not only them, but also most persons reporting to the CEO. GM needs completely new management and a "Steve Jobs" type of CEO.
At one point GM was the greatest and most powerful company on Earth (yes, when Alfred P. Sloan was its CEO) but after decades of extremely poor management and zero leadership it has come to this sorry state.
It might already be too late, but at least the main culprit has been removed.

Ollis Lee Perry 3rd

March 29, 2009 7:26 PM

I have been employed at the Fort Wayne truck & bus plant in Indiana for over 15 years. I am an hourly worker, and hold the job title as a team leader. We build the world class Chevy, and GMC pick-up-trucks of the future. I wish I could say that I will miss Mr. Wagner as my CEO, but I never remembered him visiting with the workers at the worlds number one truck plant. I found it strange that since we are economically the most cost effective per vehicle to produce a truck that I never seen Wagner presence. It's very deserving that Fort Wanye assembly be awarded the funds to become a flex plant, because the people there worked so hard to make Fort Wayne assembly number one in nearly every catagory.

Chuck Brooks

March 29, 2009 7:34 PM

Be nice to know who did the shoving. Was it GM's 'private' board of directors in recognizing Mr Wagoner's shortcommings, or in response to winds from washington, or demands from the new stockholders, the US congress? More importantly, now that GM is positioned to 'get' more taxpayer money, will it really make any difference?
Chuck Brooks
FutureWare SCG

Dave G

March 29, 2009 7:44 PM

I watched an interview with this pompous idiot on 60 minutes (and I am being kind)- He and his short sighted cronies in Detroit have denegraded the made in America pride by ignoring the issues their vehicles had in the past. Laughed them off even and thereby laughing at the American public that purchased their vehicles.
Now electric vehicles are being introduced to the public by companies like Tesla Motors- the same company that Wagoner laughed at- even joked about on 60 minutes. I have news for you Wagoner- what killed the American Auto Makers? The electric car.

Wes

March 29, 2009 7:44 PM

It's about time, the same thinking that put GM into this mess won't be able to get it out of the mess.

Let's hope that GM gets some new management from outside the company (and industry), some fresh thinking a la Bob Nardelli.

Shep

March 29, 2009 7:55 PM

Now some government bureaucrat will run GM

It is the end!!!

Bill S.

March 29, 2009 7:56 PM

Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Sally in Chicago

March 29, 2009 8:01 PM

Good! because the board of directors and the shareholders weren't going to kick him out. We the taxpayers who are the majority of the company's owners are being rep'd by the President in Chief.

kim

March 29, 2009 8:22 PM

wow it may be too late but but hey its very important to keep the american pride glade they r getting more money but hey guys try doing more with less for a while like every one else these days we all deserve more not just few people but if time like this big people should set a example now that will be hard work, good luck something good should happen even if it is slow but should happen

Dbones

March 29, 2009 8:23 PM

Only 8 years past due!

lynn o holmes

March 29, 2009 8:25 PM

I once worked for GM in the stone age, and they were the worst run company with 14 layers of management and in the vise of union greed. The last good car they made was the '55 Bel Air Hardtop Convertible excluding the Chevette, Sprint,(by Suzuki) and the EV 1. They have resisted change in every form for 55 years and the only solution is bankruptcy.Then introduce single payer health care and perhaps start over. Otherwise why fire Rick, fire me instead, oh I forgot, I quit in disgust 50 years ago.

TC

March 29, 2009 8:36 PM

Funny. How come the CEOs of Goldman Sachs, BoA, Morgan Stanley get to keep their jobs about getting umteen billions in bailouts directly or thru AIG? These guys must be more important then the president of the USA.

bob

March 29, 2009 8:49 PM

Maybe Obama should ask the Wall Street
Banks to resign, arent they the same ones who go us where we are at? And what about Ford, and Chrysler too.
I am sure the highest bidder or contributor wont be touched...

Craig

March 29, 2009 8:56 PM

Good. He's not a car guy. It take a car guy to run a car company. Lutz should have been ceo because he understands the product, not just "business"...

Jack B

March 29, 2009 8:59 PM

Don't forget to take your bonus Rick.... after all you produced some amazing cars and results!

To GM Employee

March 29, 2009 9:19 PM

I don't understand your logic - Obama communist? The federal gov't owns GM, they can tell GM whatever the hell they want them to do. It's idiots like you and Rick Wagoner who have destroyed GM. You are lucky you still have your job, if it was me, GM would go bankcrupt.

pat

March 29, 2009 9:39 PM

So what? He will go home with big 20 million package. He will be again hired by some other bank or major corporation. Remember what happened to former home depot CEO. Rich always will be rich.

Rag

March 29, 2009 9:48 PM

Why do Nardelli, Pandit, Liddy and Geithner still have a job?

KT

March 29, 2009 9:57 PM

How shocking is it that it the GM Board didn't dump Wagoner. I mean it took the Obama White House??

What sane, serious observer could argue that a CEO should stay on after killing GM stock down to 1950 levels??

As to why the Wall Street CEOs are still there...it's because Wall Street owns Capitol Hill. Just check out the campaign contributions...$84M in 2008 bought a lot of Congress.
http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/summary.php?ind=F07&recipdetail=A&sortorder=U&cycle=2008

Not Sitting Idle

March 29, 2009 10:33 PM

"Obama said the automakers had more work to do to win concessions from creditors, labor and other groups." (from http://www.reuters.com/article/businessNews/idUSTRE52S1VV20090330?feedType=RSS&feedName=businessNews&pageNumber=2&virtualBrandChannel=0)

How is it that Obama can rip our hard- earned cash right out of our hands without asking to fund his ludicrous budget, and has the gall to say an American company has more work to do to 'earn' his favor? How about the government clean up its act first... clean up the bloat and waste, and THEN ask us if they've earned our tax money. Pot calling the black.

pat

March 29, 2009 11:34 PM

my GM vehicle is outstanding. I also have a Honda, but my Chevy van has a better performance record than any car I've ever driven.

Electric cars? right. golf carts with windows. Govt is forcing the hand of auto and energy companies and no one can succeed when the directives from the monopoly of govt keep changing. All that at the same time of rising world competition.

The Chevy Malibus driven by two family members are also outstanding. Cobalt is a great car as well. Wagoner was involved in all of the above and developed growth in international sales. Probably had more success than most of the home mortgage giants, including Fannie and Freddie, whose operating officers ran away with 100s of millions, while selling toxic assets all over the world. At least the GM cars run!

Ballbuster

March 30, 2009 2:49 AM


After a wasting $15Billion taxpayer freebies to GM, finally, UncleSam comes to its senses by firing incompetent GM CEO Wagoner who has come to symbolize the stupid and over-paid CEOs populating America's corporations. Having bailed out Chrysler, BearStearn, Bank of America, CitiGroup, AIG, MerrilLynch, Wachovia, WaMu, GoldmanSach, and dozens of other financials to the tune of $750Billion, UncleSam should take further courage or sense of justice to demand the resignation of all CEOs from the above companies just as it has demanded the resignation of Wagoner. At the top of the list is Chrysler CEO Bob Nadelli, who also has no clue as to any viable business plan except to bleed the taxpayer for more bailout money. Next in line to the guillotine is the third GM clown, Wellburn, the chief design architect, and the renown designer of the infamous Pontiac Aztek. The decision to mass produce the Aztek is living proof that there is no business leadership among the three clowns of GM, Wagoner, Lutz, and Wellburn. But the most devious and most deserving of the guillotine is the Bank of America CEO Lewis whose expedient purchase of dying Countrywide and hemorrhaging MerrilLynch was a secret attempt to salvage a capsizing ship. Lewis's sleight of hand should not be allowed to mesmerize taxpayers. Taxpayers demand Lewis's resignation joining the rank of Lehman's Fuld, and MerrilLynch's Thain.

Spike

March 30, 2009 11:46 AM

Rick Wagoner is an incompetent buffoon who should have stepped down years ago before he ruined GM. The problem with US car companies is that they are run by MBA bean counters instead of car people. Too many MBA's are arrogant, overpaid and live in a dream world. How many US companies that have been around for 100 years or more have been run into the ground in just a few years?

Frank

March 30, 2009 2:24 PM

Well, in eight years Mr. Wagoner did about as much as his predecessors to fix GM. Which is to say, nothing. The last profitable year was 2004 and always with the same mentality that GM's might was enough to weather the bad and that the good times were around the corner. That pipe dream never materialized. Apparently, everybody at GM came from the Roger Smith school of business and refuses to budge from there.

ISAU HERNANDEZ

March 30, 2009 4:14 PM

Mr. Wagoneer,gave a golden shake to Fiat of two billion dollars plus to get away from a joint venture with FIAT--Mr Wagoneer justify his mistake saying that Fiat passed to GM diesel technology and it was a profitable meve--Few years before GM sold to Mr Penske , Detroit Diesel Division one of the leader diesel best technologies---Well now the ex broken Fiat is getting Chrysler controll--Sad very sad--ISAU HERNANDEZ

whoznext

March 31, 2009 6:10 PM

wagoner a buffoon? Probably. The other CEO's? Maybe. Who decides? I guess now the government does. They offered a lifeline and GM and Chrysler had little choice but to accept. I would have to agree many of their problems could have been avoided with better management but I'm not an authoity on how to rn a car company. All their problems I don't know. Honda and Toyota also lost money this past year. Ah, but they didn't get a loan. The president is telling Chrysler to merge with Fiat or face bankruptcy because in their estimation it will save them. Fiat? I don't know anyone who owns a Fiat, and they have been bailed out by the Italian government more than once. But, the government believes they know how to run a car company and are so sure about Fiat being able to step in and run a global company they are just going to force Chrysler to do this. If their board of directors disagrees, it doesnt matter because they borrowed government money. That may be, but when did lending money ever give that right after the loan? They are not the major stockholders, contradictory to what people here seem to believe. The taxpayers are not stockholders in GM or Chrysler, so Obama is not the majority voice of stockholders, he is the most powerful man in the world and letting everyone know it. the government lent them money, and these strings were never revealed. Are we that trusting of this president, that he can decide what car companies do? what banks do? This is not free enterprise. Failure, although difficult, is a necessary part of a capitalistic free market system. But failure is a strong motivator for success, great success. everyone who believes the government, by virtue of handing out a loan, should be able to reorganize that company is going along with socialism if not in fact communism. No one else who loans out money to a company can demand what that company does AFTER they give them the money. It is only because no one can fight the government that they can do this. there is nothing that can stop what Obama is doing, and that is just too scary for me. You can make all the demands you want as a condition of the loan, and that comany can say yes or no, but this is a hostile takeover. If the government believes GM broke the terms of the loan they can call it due, and let the chips fall. Let them invest in a company they believe has the same philosophy for success. But to muscle in and dictate policy just because they have the muscle to do so? Lending them money does not give them this right. It just doesn't. The bank can't tell me to paint my house red or fire the gardener (like I have a gardener) because they loaned me the money. their rules are in the mortgage, which I signed and abide by. Right now, they are doing this under the guise of having given them bailout money, but what happens if they decide Ford is not green enough or is is making bad decisions? will they find a way to muscle in on them? They will if they want to. Whose company is next? I guess it's up to the government. And it keeps happenning. Scary Scary Scary.

brad

April 1, 2009 5:33 PM

well now ive seen everything
how the hell can some man come in and sack the person running a bussiness
wow well just like americans it seems to be the thing to do just like when they went into another country and sacked the president well they didnt sack him they hung him
just because they didnt like the way he run the country
ohh wait no it was because he had weapons of mass destruction that were never found ohh wait no it was for oil
or who the hell knos what it was for
in my opinion
if Obama didnt like the way the company was run
why dint he buy the company out right and give it back to the people and make it truely americian owned
the he could hire and fire who hethinks is the right people for the job
but for everyone sitting here saying ohh the CEO is to blame is just a friggin cop out
Blame your selves
everyone that has said some thing bad aout the CEO
look in your drive way and tell me what car you see sitting there
is it a GM car
or is it foriegn owned car
the people are to blame
man the buck stops here
if you dont support a company and then the company fails
you dont blame the CEO
jesus christ
if they put out a shit product then the company should be closed
but i know gm motor cars are not that bad of a car
hence
my point about the government BUYING the company and making it real AMERICAN owned
SUPPORTED by AMERICANS
Stop your whinging and support the company and the workers
or just let the company die and move on
its idiotic and so un ethical
that some one can come in and sack the head guy because he dont like the way some thing is being run
just think or of the presidence thats sets here in america
NOTHING is now safe
because if Obama (God) dont like the way its run your job is in jepody
dont get me wrong i love Obama
and i think he will do a good job
but i think what he has done with the CEO of GM is WRONG and UNETHICAL

PM461

April 2, 2009 7:02 PM

PM461

April 2, 2009 7:07 PM

Burr Deming

April 4, 2009 10:02 AM

I suspect Rick Wagoner was simply rolled up, stuffed into a cannon, and fired across the bow of other recipients of bailout dollars as a warning shot.

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