TOPICS > Economy

General Motors CEO Fritz Henderson Resigns

BY Carolyn O'Hara  December 1, 2009 at 6:30 PM EST

Former GM CEO Fritz Henderson; Getty Images

At a news conference announcing Henderson’s resignation Tuesday, Whitacre said, “We all agreed that some changes needed to be made going forward.”

The unexpected announcement came at the end of a GM board meeting in Detroit. Henderson, who has worked for GM since 1984, became CEO in March, after the auto task force set up by President Barack Obama forced out GM CEO Rick Wagoner during the company’s reorganization.

Henderson steered the company through bankruptcy proceedings and, in recent months, worked to downsize and focus the automaker to a handful of key brands: Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC. In mid-November, the company announced its intention to begin repaying $6.7 billion in government loans ahead of schedule.

But GM’s board of directors reportedly felt that an accelerated pace of change was needed. And Henderson and Whitacre have clashed on a number of key decisions regarding the sale of GM assets. In August, the board rejected a deal put together under Henderson’s watch to sell its stake in Germany-based Opel and its British sister company Vauxhall.

“The key thing this shows is that Ed Whitacre and the new board are now fully in control of the company,” David Shepardson of the Detroit News told the NewsHour. “They gave Henderson basically five months to run the company, to pick his own team, and they clearly did not see eye to eye on a number of issues, starting with the decision on Opel, but really on a lot of other issues about how to run the company.”

“I think the board never became satisfied that Henderson, a man who has been at GM for his entire career, started in 1984, was the guy who was going to lead the company into the future.”

Listen to more of Shepardson’s analysis here: