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GM’s Fired Fritz Henderson Surfaces at Sunoco

Henderson will become Chairman and CEO of SunCoke Energy.

by on Sep.07, 2010

Then GM CEO Fritz Henderson announces the Chevrolet Volt, the electric car designed to put oil companies out of business.

Sunoco, Inc. has announced that Frederick A. “Fritz” Henderson has joined the company as a senior vice president to help prepare for a previously announced separation of SunCoke Energy from parent Sunoco.

Coke is a key ingredient in steel, of course, a material that auto companies are large purchasers of during their often contentious relationships with suppliers.

Sunoco said last June that  it would separate SunCoke Energy from itself as part of a well-worn Wall Street strategy “designed to unlock shareholder value.” This type of financial engineering ploy clearly didn’t work in the now notorious auto industry captive  component maker spinoffs – GM’s Delphi and Ford Motor’s Visteon. Both transactions ultimately resulted in bankruptcies and costly shareholder losses.

SunCoke facilities in the U.S. have the capacity to manufacture approximately 3.67 million tons of metallurgical coke annually – roughly 25% of domestic production. Sunoco also has an equity interest in a 1.7 million tons-per-year coke-making facility in Vitoria, Brazil.


Henderson GM Consultant, Whitacre Paid $9 Million

Some surprises in General Motors’ SEC 8-K filing.

by on Feb.19, 2010

Why is this man smiling? Perhaps a $9 million pay package might help.

Though he initially took on CEO duties without pay, General Motors boss Ed Whitacre, Jr. won’t be going hungry.  Even if his tastes run toward prime Kobe beef, rather than Texas longhorn, Whitacre should be able to come up with the cash considering he’ll now be getting a pay package worth $9 million, the automaker announced late today in an 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Few expected Whitacre to continue to volunteer his time as GM’s chief executive.  But the SEC filing did contain one big surprise: news that former CEO Fritz Henderson, ousted in a scuffle with Whitacre, late last November, has returned as a company “consultant.”

The month-to-month agreement, which could run through December 31, 2010, provides the former GM executive with $59,090 a month – plus “reasonable” expenses.

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For that sum, Henderson will put in 20 hours a month consulting on international operations – an area he specialized in before returning to the U.S., several years ago — and he will meet at least once a month with Whitacre or one of the new CEO’s representatives.


Levin Opposes Lifting Salary Caps for New GM CEO

Congressman also opposes legislation that would force GM, Chrysler to restore fired dealers.

by on Dec.07, 2009

Michigan Congressman Sander Levin opposes lifting pay caps to attract a new General Motors CEO.

Michigan Congressman Sander Levin opposes lifting pay caps to attract a new General Motors CEO.

The search for a new CEO to replace ousted General Motors Chief Executive Fritz Henderson could be seriously complicated by the federal pay cap on companies that have received a government bailout.

As things stand, a new CEO would be limited to less than $1 million in hard cash.  While that might be a big lure to the average American, it’s a pittance in the corporate world, especially among Fortune 500 companies, industry analysts warn.  But there seems little likelihood that the cap would be lifted, contends influential Democratic lawmaker Sander Levin.

“I doubt if there would be a change to the pay cap,” the Michigan congressman tells, even though critics point to the millions of dollars Ford Motor Co. shelled out to attract former Boeing executive Alan Mulally, to sign on as its CEO.

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Cong. Levin says he believes that, “There are other ways to compensate executives, including stock.  More and more, we want people compensated for performance.  GM should be able to attract someone within the pay cap and if they succeed, they will be compensated adequately.  If they fail, they won’t.”


What Next at GM?

Will Whitacre hold onto the CEO job?

by on Dec.04, 2009

Can a Texas telecommunications engineer find happiness as GM's permanent CEO?

Can a Texas telecommunications engineer find happiness as GM's permanent CEO?

Now what?

As the automaker dove into bankruptcy, earlier this year, it was clear things would never be the same at General Motors.  But for those who thought there might be a bit more stability once the maker emerged from the Chapter 11 process, on July 10th, this week’s events show that change may be the only constant.

What’s clear is that Board Chairman Edward Whitacre is now making sure that the automaker’s top management team is shaped to his liking.  Fritz Henderson is out as CEO, with the 46-year-old Mark Reuss taking on  president of North America.  The septuagenarian GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz maintains his title, but nothing else, with the equally youthful Susan Docherty now assuming his role as head of marketing.

You Can't Tell the Players Without a Scorecard!

Keeping Score!

There’s still that gap at the top.  For now, “Big Ed” Whitacre, the self-styled folksy Texan and former AT&T chairman, is officially General Motors’ “acting” CEO.  A grand dragnet has, allegedly,  been launched to find someone permanent for the post.  But the Friday management realignment suggests to a number of observers that Whitacre eventually may abandon any pretense of this being a temporary position.

(Ken Zino on the latest GM shake-up: Click Here.)


Lutz Laments Henderson Departure

GM insider struggles to shift talk to Volt during LA keynote.

by on Dec.02, 2009

"Maximum" Bob Lutz praises ousted GM CEO Fritz Henderson but would prefer to talk about the new Chevrolet Volt.

Bob Lutz praises ousted GM CEO Fritz Henderson but prefers to talk about the new Chevrolet Volt, which his government owner has dubbed a loser.

The fallout from yesterday’s surprise ouster of General Motors CEO Fritz Henderson dominated the opening sessions of the 2009 Los Angeles Motor Show, as GM’s Vice Chairman dove in as a last-minute substitute for Fritz Henderson, the show’s initially-planned keynote speaker.

The ousted, 51-year-old executive is “a man of tremendous intelligence, broad knowledge of the business and incredible common sense and probably guided the company through the toughest period in its history,” said the septuagenarian Lutz, whose own tenure is now very much in doubt.

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Breaking News, Industry Analysis, Your One Source!

The head of marketing for GM, Lutz stressed that he had other things to talk about, and would be “the Teflon man” if reporters pressed him about the unexpected corporate shake-up.  But the stunning news remained the underlying issue and resurfaced during a post-speed question-and-answer session and a later “scrum” with reporters.


Who Pushed Henderson Out At GM?

GM CEO “resigns,” but did he have any other choice?

by on Dec.01, 2009

Take this job and shove it?  Did GM CEO Fritz Henderson quit, or was he "resigned"?

Take this job and shove it? Did GM CEO Fritz Henderson quit, or was he "resigned"?

Despite some big name speakers, there are usually few surprises during the opening session of the Los Angeles Auto Show.  But this year could be a different.  For one thing, the previously publicized headliner won’t be here — Fritz Henderson will be back in Detroit packing his things after”resigning”  as President and CEO of General Motors Company. Speaking in his place will be Vice Chairman Bob Lutz whose future is also uncertain.

It’s unlikely, nay certain, that the boastful corporate infighter Lutz will provide any insight whatsoever into the boardroom intrigue that led to Henderson’s departure.

Indeed, even close associates havebeen left guessing as to whether the 50-year-old executive jumped or was pushed from his perch, although Ken Zino has provided a persuasiveve explanation for the firing  based on GM’s awful business results and interviews with senior GM managers.

(Click Here for Ken Zino’s breaking news analysis on Henderson’s ouster.)

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Your Inside Source!

Though only some, well honestly few, observers wondered whether Henderson would last alongside GM’s hard-charging newly-government- mandated Chairman, Edward Whitacre, the timing of Tuesday’s announcement caught the complacent mainstream media by surprise.  Although, the Detroit Bureau humbly submits, we have been saying Henderson’s future was  in doubt since former chairman Rick Wagoner’s well deserved ouster earlier this year. 

Why TV news readers  expressed surprise that the number two GM exec was on the bubble as well,  is beyond us – maybe it has something to do with the effects of peroxide on brain cells. All you had to do was look at the results since Henderson took over.


GM’s LaNeve Joins Allstate

LaNeve returns to marketing at the largest publicly held insurer.

by on Oct.12, 2009

“I look forward to helping Allstate reinvent the way customers think about protection."

“I look forward to helping Allstate reinvent the way customers think about protection."

Allstate (NYSE: ALL) today announced it has selected Mark LaNeve, 50, as chief marketing officer. LaNeve will oversee all marketing initiatives for the corporation, including brand stewardship, marketing and brand strategy, advertising, corporate identity, customer loyalty and field marketing.

In addition, LaNeve will serve as a member of the corporation’s senior management team, reporting to Thomas J. Wilson, Allstate’s chairman, president and chief executive officer. LaNeve will join Allstate effective October 26.

Fritz Henderson, General Motors CEO, announced LaNeve’s departure during a press conference last week. Henderson said LaNeve would be leaving for a job at a non-automotive company on October 15, and that an announcement of the new job would be forthcoming. Gm subsequently appointed Buick-GMC General Manager Susan Docherty as vice president of U.S. sales.

Year-to-date the Buick brand is off 37% and the GMC brand is down 41% in a market that declined only 27%.

LaNeve’s apparent sacking came less than one week after GM announced September sales results, which were off 45% compared to what was an unusually strong month in September in 2008. GM’s U.S. dealers delivered just 156,673 vehicles in September. Year-to-to-date GM sales are down more than 36%.

LaNeve was relieved of marketing responsibility at GM to make way for the return of Robert Lutz, who had previously announced his retirement. Lutz took the marketing portion of LaNeve’s job as LaNeve was shifted to sales.

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We're Good Hands!

LaNeve’s performance in sales is debatable. If you look at GM’s market share in September 2009, the latest available period, GM was clearly number one with 21% — that is more than four share points better than Toyota and about six share points better than Ford Motor Company.


Reworking General Motors on the Fly

U.S. and Canadian results remain impediment to profitability and an IPO. Top sales exec, Mark LaNeve, leaves company.

by on Oct.07, 2009


"We've made a lot of progress in 90 days ... We need to prove ourselves every day and we will."

General Motors CEO Fritz Henderson said this morning that the new management team and the Board of directors are successfully running the business and learning at the same time on how to transform the management culture to one of accountability and risk taking.

How well they are actually doing this will not be known until GM reveals its first financial results sometime in mid November.

The company is not making money currently in my estimation.

“We are taking aggressive actions and moving quickly to transform our culture into one that is truly customer focused,” Henderson said.

Based on sales numbers that are available, GM’s performance in the Canadian and U.S. marketplaces remains below the plan outlined in bankruptcy proceedings. This lack of positive business outcomes needs to be reversed before the company can proceed with a planned initial purchase offering (IPO) of stock sometime during the second half of 2010.

Profitability and positive cash flow, as well as share performance will be the key criteria for a successful stock offering. A successful IPO is needed if GM is to begin to pay back U.S. taxpayers, and finance UAW health care benefits.

GM is continuing to implement “fresh-start” reporting, which encompasses the determination of the fair value of its assets and liabilities, by March 31, 2010.

Market share remains problematic in North America.

GM’s estimated global market share in the third quarter was 11.9%, up 0.3% points from 11.6% share in the first half of the year, compared to 12.4% in 2008. The company’s U.S. market share was 19.5% in the third quarter, consistent with the first half of the year.

However, U.S. market share in 2008 was 22.1%, and the three-point drop is a very costly one, and was one of the factors that led to GM’s insolvency earlier this year.



Recently, GM’s September share was 20.6%, one of the highest months in 2009, showing that the company’s new products are capturing consumer interest, at least initially. The four core brands accounted for more than 90% of GM’s September U.S. sales.

Henderson reiterated that GM needs an 18.5% share in the U.S. in a 10.5 million unit annual market just to break even under its new structure.


Is 13 a Lucky Number for GM’s Board?

With a lot of help from the U.S. Treasury, General Motors Company has a new governance structure.

by on Jul.23, 2009

Over to you Fritz, if the government actually lets you run the company.

Over to you Fritz, if the government actually lets you run the company.

The reorganization of General Motors finally caught up with the speed of its bankruptcy sale two weeks ago when the final appointments to its U.S. Government  vetted  Board of Directors  were announced this afternoon and most its new executive committee were  named.

The Executive committee will run the recovering company, and it replaces two previous boards, the Automotive Strategy Board and Automotive Product Board. Led by GM Company CEO Fritz Henderson, executive committee membership includes:

  • Bob Lutz, vice chairman, marketing and communications;
  • Tom Stephens, vice chairman, global product development;
  • Nick Reilly, executive vice president, GM International Operations;
  • Ray Young, executive vice president, chief financial officer;
  • Tim Lee, group vice president, global manufacturing and labor relations;
  • John Smith, group vice president, corporate planning and alliances, and secretary of the executive committee;
  • Mark LaNeve, vice president, U.S. sales;
  • Bob Socia, vice president, global purchasing and supply chain.
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You're top source for automotive news!

“With these announcements, most of the new GM leadership team is in place,” Henderson said in a statement. “We expect to have the final round of announcements next week.”

At least six senior executives are retiring including Jonathan Browning, Troy Clarke, Gary Cowger, Michael Grimaldi, Maureen Kempston Darkes and Ralph Szygenda. More retirements are expected as the  company continues to pare its bloated executive ranks.

As Henderson previously noted, when announcing that senior management ranks would be trimmed by 35%, by year’s end, “We have a lot of good executives.  We just have too many of them.”


General Motors Bankruptcy Proceeding Apace

Once again, critics are confounded, as the judge moves ahead.

by on Jun.26, 2009


Judge Robert E. Gerber of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York has granted GM’s motions for debtor in possession (DIP) financing from the U.S. Treasury and the Canadian and Ontario governments.

The final ruling, one of several issued late yesterday, follows a preliminary one on June 1st when GM declared bankruptcy, which authorized GM up to use up to $15 billion from the estate. Now GM can spend as much as $33.3 billion in DIP financing.

The money, of course, is coming from the U.S. Treasury and the Canadian Federal, as well as the Ontario provincial governments.The money will be used for, among other things, GM’s normal liquidity requirements, including employee wages, health care benefits, supplier payments, and other general operating expenses.

While not necessary indicative of how the rest of the case will proceed, the rulings are the latest indication that, like Chrysler, GM will move out of bankruptcy protection at lightning speed compared to the usual glacially-slow lawyer-fee-driven process.

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GM needs to emerge as a new GM as quickly as possible to remove the insolvent stigma, and get back to the business of selling cars and trucks. Year-to-date through May, GM’s sales are off 44%, compared to an industry drop of 37%.