GM chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre is to step down with Dan Akerson taking over from 1 September and as chairman at the end of the year.

“This transition has been in process and when he [Whitacre] took the postilion, it was with the understanding it was not for ever,” a GM spokesman in Detroit told just-auto.

“He is at an age and point in his career [when] it would not be a long-term position. The decision was announced today we would begin the long-term transition.” CEO Jeremy Anwyl said: “This seems to be about the IPO. GM wants the issue of succession planning off the table.”