The move had been considered highly likely after Whitacre, 68, announced on 1 December that he would take over as acting chief executive from Fritz Henderson, who was ousted after eight months. “I told the board I would take it,” Whitacre said at a hastily arranged news conference at GM’s headquarters in Detroit.
“We didn’t assign a specific time to it,” Whitacre said of the planned length of his tenure. “But as far as I’m concerned, it’s for an adequate amount of time to get done what we need to get done, and I can’t tell you whether it’s three years or two years or what.”
He has been chairman of the GM board since July and moved quickly last month to install a new team of executives to head up GM’s troubled North American operations.
“This place needs some stability. I guess that’s me,” Whitacre said.
Whitacre said he had not planned to stay on as permanent chief executive when he announced that the board had formed a search committee on 1 December. At a meeting last week, Whitacre and the other 11 members of the GM board agreed that he should remain in the job.
“You sort of get pulled in, if you would,” Whitacre said. “I didn’t know that was going to happen. I didn’t plan on it.” Whitacre said he will keep his house in Texas and continue to travel back and forth to Detroit.