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September 10, 2009

US: GM CFO leaving – report

General Motors' chief financial officer Ray Young is to leave soon, according to media reports.

General Motors’ chief financial officer Ray Young is to leave soon, according to media reports.

It would be highest profile departure since GM emerged from bankruptcy and the plans were approved at the automaker’s board meeting on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

Canadian-born Young, a lifetime GM employee named CFO 18 months ago, had held North American, European, Asian and South America posts including key positions once held by CEO Fritz Henderson and former CEO Rick Wagoner but GM needed a government bailout and made a government-supervised Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing on his watch.

Reuters noted that (unofficial, as yet unconfirmed) word of Young’s pending departure came as a congressional oversight panel said taxpayers were unlikely to be repaid in full for the emergency financing of GM that began to take shape in late 2008 and included US$50bn in bankruptcy funding.

Young joined GM’s operations in Canada in 1986 after graduation and subsequent roles included heading the automaker’s unit in Brazil, a job once held by Henderson and Wagoner.

Both also served as CFO before their promotions to CEO and Young had been seen as a potential successor at the automaker’s top job before the financial crisis put it under the control of a task force operating under the US treasury.

Young had been one of a handful of executives named to a team that includes marketing chief Bob Lutz and product development head Tom Stephens charged with making faster decisions on key strategy questions under Henderson.

Another part of the board meeting this week was devoted to reviewing plans for the new harder-edged marketing campaign that will challenge consumer perceptions that GM vehicles lag on quality or fuel economy, a person briefed on the discussions told Reuters.

Bloomberg TV reported on Thursday that new chairman Ed Whitacre may front some of the ads, expected to be revealed later this week.

Whitacre said at the beginning of August he wanted the company to remain at the top of the US sales chart and had told his new management team that regaining market share was a priority.

Rapid improvements were needed in advertising, revenue and net income.

Changing marketing strategy and revamping its advertising would help GM regain market share, added Whitacre.

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