Right now, you might be saying to yourself, "Who is Dan Akerson? What does he know about running a car company?"
But they may not be the most important question to ask following his selection to become the new CEO, and ultimately chairman, of General Motors.
The real question is why the GM board has picked Akerson to step in to the top job as of September 1st.?
This is partially about setting up GM for a successful IPO. The company will file registration papers for the IPO tomorrowand within a few weeks the road show with investment banks will begin.
If GM is going to have a successful IPO, it needs to remove major question marks the large institutional investors will have about GM's leadership post-IPO. In other words, who's going to run this company for the next 2, 3, 4 years? Current GM CEO and Chairman Ed Whitacre Jr. has said all along that he's not in for the long run at GM, so it's only natural investment firms will want to know who is going to run GM the next several years.
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This is also about the GM board picking an outsider with a long history running a company. Akerson has been around the block a few times. He's a managing director at the Carlyle Groupwho has previously run General Instrument, Nextel and XO Communications.
You look at that list and say, "Hmmmm, he knows the telecom industry, but does he know how to run an auto company?" The GM board is clearly looking at Akerson's experience as an executive and in dealing with the capital markets and see that as a positive that outweighs his lack of knowledge about the auto business.