Those quotations are from Edward Whitacre Jr., GM’s new board chairman, and were delivered in a conference call with reporters after a first round of meetings Tuesday. Well, jeez, folks, what did you expect him to say? That GM culture sucked and that once he got into the financials he was appalled?
This is corporate-speak at its best, the kind of statement that flows naturally from CEOs of big companies. Whitacre bossed AT&T for some years before GM, so he learned how to handle these “availabilities,” as the press calls them. Selling networks and communication services may be different from building and selling cars, but you feed the same pap to the press.
Well, that being said, Mr. Whitacre tried to offer the only thing he could—confidence. Board members actually went out to the proving ground at Milford and drove some of the new cars, including the Camaro (only the shorter board members could fit inside). What did they think? Freep reported:
“The entire board came away extremely impressed with the product lineup, and we are determined to act fast and drive the actions necessary to guide the new GM to success,” the board statement said.
“Thank God we’re in good hands,” GM people everywhere are saying.
In a somewhat more substantive development, negotiations toward an Opel deal are finally moving forward, and Reuters says it could be set by the weekend. Two companies are bidding—Canadian auto parts maker Magna and Belgian financial group RHJ. GM owns 35 percent of Opel, but the German government must provide state aid for the deal to go through. Discussions have been going on for weeks.
In a statement that probably loses something in the translation, Deputy Economics Minister Jochen Homann said,
All the partners—so GM, Magna and RHJ—confirmed that they saw themselves able to see eye to eye by the end of the week.
As part of the deal, maybe Mr. Whitacre could throw in some of his communications expertise.
Is GM in good hands, really, with Fritz and much of the old guard still at the helm? We’re sure you think they are.