New GM Head: "I Don't Know Anything About Cars"

Former AT&T boss says he'll learn in Detroit

By Xana O'Neill
|  Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009  |  Updated 10:15 AM CDT
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Blame Them For Your Empty Wallet

Edward Whitacre, 67, was appointed to run the automaker after it emerges from bankruptcy -- but by his own admission knows nothing about the industry he is overseeing.

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The man charged with turning General Motors around said he knows nothing about the auto industry.

Edward Whitacre, 67, was appointed to run the automaker after it emerges from bankruptcy -- but by his own admission knows nothing about the industry he is overseeing.

"I don't know anything about cars," Whitacre told Bloomberg. "A business is a business, and I think I can learn about cars. I'm not that old, and I think the business principles are the same."

Whitaker, or "Big Ed" as he's known in the business, made his name running AT&T and its predecessors and is the only non-CEO to lead GM's board in half a century.

General Motors filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and hopes to emerge  from court protection in no more than 90 days. Whitacre will then step in and try to turn the company around.

The Treasury said Whitacre is "well qualified" for the position, in a statement.

But telecom industry analyst Victor Schnee told the the Assoicated Press that Whitacre's appointment was "bizarre."

"The guy accomplished a number of things in telecom and we all thought the book was closed," he said.

Former GM Chairman and chief executive Rick Wagoner was ousted by the Obama administration in March.
 

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