General Motors chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner said on Monday that the car maker is financially sound and that he has no plans to leave his job.
Speaking after the company announced plans to restructure its struggling North American automotive operations, Wagoner told Dow Jones Newswires that GM’s board of directors has been supportive of the latest cost-cutting moves and of him.
“I have given no thought to anything other than turning the business around…I wasn’t brought up to run and hide when things get tough,” Wagoner reportedly said during a press briefing.
Dow Jones noted that a spate of unsettling news in recent weeks and lingering doubts about GM’s ability to revive its fortunes in its core US market helped push GM’s shares to their lowest point in 19 years last week. The concerns also kept alive talk that GM could be heading toward bankruptcy, something Wagoner has denied repeatedly.
Wagoner, who first announced plans for a major restructuring in June at the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting, told Dow Jones on Monday that the latest steps weren’t taken because of pressure from the board or shareholders.
The CEO acknowledged that businesses in transition face risks, and that there are risks for GM. “Those risks, while challenging, are manageable,” he told the news agency, adding that the company’s liquidity structure leaves it on “very sound financial footing.”
Wagoner reportedly declined to comment on the earnings outlook for 2006.
According to Dow Jones, Wagoner insisted the car maker is not “ceding” global market leadership to Toyota, which, while still trailing GM in overall light vehicle sales, is gaining fast on GM in the US while also expanding its presence in Europe and in its own home market.
The CEO reportedly said the company can remain the leader in the market. He told Dow Jones GM is looking to utilise joint ventures and add third shifts in the future to keep up with demand. “We will be able to respond (to demand swings) on the upside, but not have to carry all the cost” to support potential surges in demand, he said.