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GM Names New CFO, Restores Dividend for 1st Time Since 2008

Moves come as Mary Barra set to become maker’s first female CEO.

by on Jan.15, 2014

New GM CFO Chuck Stevens.

General Motors has named Chuck Stevens as its new chief financial officer, replacing current CFO Dan Ammann, who became the Detroit maker’s new president later this week as part of a broad management shift that sees Mary Barra become the new chief executive officer.

The move was approved by the GM board of directors which also restored the maker’s divided for the first time since July 2008, at a time when it was spiraling towards bankruptcy. Stockholders will receive a 30-cent dividend per share.

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The announcements come just weeks before GM is expected to report its 16th straight quarterly profits, a string that began soon after its emergence from Chapter 11 protection with the help of a nearly $50 billion federal bailout. The U.S. Treasury last month sold off the last of its holdings in the maker – at a final loss of about $10 billion.

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GM's new CEO Mary Barra celebrates while watching GM sweep the 2014 North American Car and Truck of the Year awards.

The decision to resume the dividend comes at a time when things have largely been going right for the maker – which notably landed kudos this week for its Chevrolet Corvette and Chevy Silverado models which were named North American Car and Truck of the Year by a panel of 48 U.S. and Canadian journalists.

(Click Here for more on that story.)

On the financial side, GM received a critical endorsement when its debt was upgraded last year to investment grade for the first time since before its bankruptcy. It also returned to the closely followed S&P 500 index.  Its stock, meanwhile, has been rising sharply in recent months, closing up 1.1% on Tuesday at $40.02 before climbing by more than another $1 in after-hours trading.

“Our fortress balance sheet, substantial liquidity, consistent earnings and strong cash flow provide the foundation for an ongoing payout,” said new President Ammann, in a statement announcing the latest moves by GM.

His successor, 54-year-old Stevens, won’t have to stretch much from his current post, having served as chief financial officer of GM’s core North American operations since January 2010, overseeing GM’s financial operations for U.S. Sales, Service and Marketing, GM Canada, GM Mexico, North America Manufacturing, Customer Care and Aftersales, and Global Connected Consumer. He also served as interim CFO for GM South America from December 2011 to January 2013.

Stevens joined GM through the Buick division in 1983 and has since worked in a number of senior overseas positions, including China, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand.

“The plan is to build on the good progress made by the finance team in driving the right business decisions,” said Stevens after his appointment was announced. “I look forward to working with the GM team to drive even stronger business results.”

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The GM management team has undergone some extensive changes since the 2009 bankruptcy, but the latest moves have generated quite a buzz, largely because of the appointment of Mary Barra, until now the maker’s global product development chief, to the post of CEO. She is the first female chief executive of a major global automaker.

She replaces Dan Akerson who decided to retire after his wife was diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer.  A former telecomm executive, Akerson joined GM following its run through Chapter 11 as a board member but was elevated to Chairman in September 2010, then adding CEO to his title.

GM’s dividend announcement comes days after cross-town rival Ford Motor Co. raised its own stockholder payout by 25%, to 12.5 cents per share.

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