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Ed Whitacre media commments


Bruce Nunnally

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12:57 Christopher Barger:

Hello everyone, and thank you for joining us this afternoon. Mr. Whitacre will be joining us shortly; in the meantime, please feel free to submit a question now that the chat is open. (Please recognize that we expect that there will be too many questions for Mr. Whitacre to answer today in this single session, so we apologize in advance if we are unable to get to yours.)

When submitting a question, please give us your name and media affiliation. Thanks!

Tuesday December 8, 2009 12:57 Christopher Barger

13:00

[Comment From Todd Lassa -- Motor Trend Todd Lassa -- Motor Trend : ]

Can you tell us what role Bob Lutz has within the company in the short term? Will he be retiring soon?

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:00 Todd Lassa -- Motor Trend

13:02

13:20 [Comment From Mary Conway WXYZ-TV Mary Conway WXYZ-TV : ]

Do you see any parallels between the situations faced by ATT and General Motors? What happened at ATT that might by applicable to the challenges GM is facing now?

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:20 Mary Conway WXYZ-TV

13:21 Ed Whitacre:

Mary,

Great question...way too long for a webchat. I'd be glad to talk to you in more detail about that in person.

Ed Whitacre:

Hi Todd...Bob is Vice Chairman...his role has changed a bit...he is senior advisor to me and top mgt. We look forward to learning a lot from him...you'll have to ask him when he's going to retire.

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:02 Ed Whitacre

13:02

[Comment From Robert Snell, Detroit New Robert Snell, Detroit New : ]

Where do things stand with the search for a new chief financial officer and have you narrowed the list of candidates to a few finalists?

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:02 Robert Snell, Detroit New

13:03

Ed Whitacre:

Hello, Robert

It's a good question...we're close and have narrowed it down and have a real good candidate. Could have some news in two or three weeks..

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:03 Ed Whitacre

13:03

[Comment From Tom Krisher, AP Tom Krisher, AP : ]

Fritz Henderson had only about 8 months as CEO before he left. How long do the newly appointed execs have to show results before they are replaced?

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:03 Tom Krisher, AP

13:03

Ed Whitacre:

Hi Tom...

Not long. :-).

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:03 Ed Whitacre

13:03

[Comment From Mary Conway WXYZ-TV Mary Conway WXYZ-TV : ]

How frequently do you communicate with members of the government auto task force? How involved are they in the decision making process?

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:03 Mary Conway WXYZ-TV

13:04

Ed Whitacre:

Hi Mary...

It's a good question. I would say on the average about once a week. They promise to keep hands off and let the Board run the company. They've been true to their word and done exactly that...I give them high marks.

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:04 Ed Whitacre

13:05

[Comment From Justin Hyde, Det.FreePres Justin Hyde, Det.FreePres : ]

Mr. Whitacre -- What happens to GM's pay restrictions once it repays the loans to the federal government? Do the restrictions continue as long as the gov't is a stakeholder?

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:05 Justin Hyde, Det.FreePres

13:05

Ed Whitacre:

Hi Justin,

To be honest, we don't know yet.

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:05 Ed Whitacre

13:06

[Comment From Jonas FRöberg Jonas FRöberg : ]

How does the saab negotiations go?

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:06 Jonas FRöberg

13:06

Ed Whitacre:

Hi Jonas...

We're in negotiations with a couple of interested parties. We've got a deadline for the end of the month and we'll let you know how it went.

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:06 Ed Whitacre

13:07

[Comment From Phil LeBeau- CNBC Phil LeBeau- CNBC : ]

What is the role Steve Girsky will be playing as senior advisor to Mr. Whitacre? Is there a specific area he will be focused on in working with Mr. Whitacre?

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:07 Phil LeBeau- CNBC

13:08

Ed Whitacre:

Hi Phil,

Steve's role is that he brings us both and external and internal view of the business. He's working with me and the senior management team and I can report that after four days on the job he's doing excellent work.

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:08 Ed Whitacre

13:09

[Comment From Bill Visnic, Edmunds.com Bill Visnic, Edmunds.com : ]

Do you have specific sales and/or market share forecasts for the first half of 2010? Are you satisfied with GM's current share considering the 2009 market conditions?

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:09 Bill Visnic, Edmunds.com

13:09

Ed Whitacre:

Hi Bill,

The answer to your questions are yes, yes and no.

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:09 Ed Whitacre

13:10

[Comment From Rod Meloni, WDIV-TV News Rod Meloni, WDIV-TV News : ]

Mark Reuss and Susan Docherty today said this is the priority list 1.) Paying back government loans. 2.) Get profitable asap 3.) ipo next year. You also say you want accountability. Is this your priority list and how will accountability manifest itself>?

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:10 Rod Meloni, WDIV-TV News

13:11

Ed Whitacre:

Rod,

These are certianly some of my priorities. Mark and Susan are terrific.

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:11 Ed Whitacre

13:12

[Comment From Justin Hyde, Det.FreePres Justin Hyde, Det.FreePres : ]

Mr. Whitacre, what's your timeline for a GM IPO?

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:12 Justin Hyde, Det.FreePres

13:13

Ed Whitacre:

Justin,

The timing of the IPO is simply when we're ready. There are many factors that need to be in place, as we've stated before.

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:13 Ed Whitacre

13:13

[Comment From Jean Halliday, Ad Age Jean Halliday, Ad Age : ]

Your product development,engineering & design are right on....but there seems to be a shortfall in communicating that to Americans... How are you going to improve ad messaging and any plans to bring back the N. American VP-advertising post - why or why not?

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:13 Jean Halliday, Ad Age

13:14

Ed Whitacre:

Jean,

No plans for a NA VP in advertising. I think Mr. Reuss and Mrs. Docherty will do a great job going forward.

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:14 Ed Whitacre

13:15

[Comment From Matthias Ruch (FTD) Matthias Ruch (FTD) : ]

Mr Whitacre, how was your meeting with Klaus Franz from Germany? Can you give us any details? Do you have plans to travel to Germany as well?

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:15 Matthias Ruch (FTD)

13:16

Ed Whitacre:

Matthias,

Had a great meeting with Klaus. Lots of areas of agreement...very few areas of disagreement. I think the future in Europe looks great.

13:18

[Comment From Paul Eisenstein, Paul Eisenstein, : ]

also, like many of my colleagues, I wonder when you will address us in the media directly, even if by telephone conference. To be honest, a webchat is quite a bit different and doesn't carry the veracity of seeing or at least hearing you directly.

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:18 Paul Eisenstein,

13:20

Ed Whitacre:

Dear Paul,

I've been on the job for four days. I'll do it as soon as I feel comfortable and have enough clear air and time. I promise we'll talk soon.

Bruce

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13:20

[Comment From Mary Conway WXYZ-TV Mary Conway WXYZ-TV : ]

Do you see any parallels between the situations faced by ATT and General Motors? What happened at ATT that might by applicable to the challenges GM is facing now?

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:20 Mary Conway WXYZ-TV

13:21

Ed Whitacre:

Mary,

Great question...way too long for a webchat. I'd be glad to talk to you in more detail about that in person.

13:22

[Comment From John Stoll, WSJ John Stoll, WSJ : ]

are you open to bringing in a COO or president as sort of a right-hand operator to help share the load in day to day operations as you revise GM's strategy?

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:22 John Stoll, WSJ

13:22

Ed Whitacre:

John,

No.

13:23

[Comment From R Schoenberger-PlainDealr R Schoenberger-PlainDealr : ]

How many dealers can you take back and retain viability?

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:23 R Schoenberger-PlainDealr

13:24

Ed Whitacre:

Can't give you an exact number. We want to do the right thing...but we're going to be viable.

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:24 Ed Whitacre

13:24

[Comment From Joann Muller, Forbes Joann Muller, Forbes : ]

where are you right now, Mr. Whitacre? In Detroit? or elsewhere?

13:25

Ed Whitacre:

Hi Joanne,

I'm in Chris Preuss' conf. room on the 29th floor of the Ren Cen. It's kind of cold in here.

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:25 Ed Whitacre

13:25

[Comment From Robert Ray, Fox Business Robert Ray, Fox Business : ]

Mr. Whitacre, on a personal note, do you like cars?

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:25 Robert Ray, Fox Business

13:25

Ed Whitacre:

Hi Robert,

Oh yes.

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:25 Ed Whitacre

13:26

[Comment From Josh Oliver, TheGMSource Josh Oliver, TheGMSource : ]

On another personal note, what is your personal, everyday vehicle?

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:26 Josh Oliver, TheGMSource

13:27

Ed Whitacre:

Josh,

I drive a CTS-V.

Bruce

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13:27

[Comment From Chris Isidore, CNNMoney Chris Isidore, CNNMoney : ]

What cars did you drive before you joined the GM board? When was the last time you purchased a GM car on your own?

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:27 Chris Isidore, CNNMoney

13:28

Ed Whitacre:

Chris,

I purchased a 2008 Tahoe before joining the Board. I have a 2005 Chevy Avalanche and a 2005 GMC Yukon XL. Just got my new CTS-V. Too many vehicles for one guy, huh?

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:28 Ed Whitacre

13:29

[Comment From Phil LeBeau- CNBC Phil LeBeau- CNBC : ]

Since becoming Chairman how often have you visited GM dealerships around the country?

13:30

Ed Whitacre:

Phil,

I've been to several dealerships in Texas and few others. I've spoken with many dealers from the largest to the smallest and I'm getting a good education.

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:30 Ed Whitacre

13:30

[Comment From Erica Morris, PRWeek Erica Morris, PRWeek : ]

How important is public sentiment to GM management?

13:31

Ed Whitacre:

Hi Erica,

It's very important...maybe number one.

13:31

[Comment From Robert Ray, Fox Business Robert Ray, Fox Business : ]

Mr. Whitacre, tell us about the Asian market and GM's future there?

13:32

Ed Whitacre:

Robert,

The Asian market is big and growing...it's diverse and big for GM. We're doing well there and will continue to do so.

Bruce

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13:33 [Comment From Rod Meloni, WDIV-TV News Rod Meloni, WDIV-TV News : ]

Are you expecting to announce any job cuts either for blue or white collar workers anytime soon?

Tuesday December 8, 2009 13:33 Rod Meloni, WDIV-TV News

13:33 Ed Whitacre:

Rod, No plans for new cuts.

13:34 Christopher Barger:

We have time for just a couple more questions, so please understand we're trying to get to as many as possible.

13:35 [Comment From Joe Howard/Lt & Med. Trk Joe Howard/Lt & Med. Trk : ]

Mr. Whitacre: Following up on an earlier question, can you share specifics on sales and market share forecasts for the first half of 2010?

13:35 Ed Whitacre:

Joe, Sure. As much as we can get.

13:36 [Comment From Nick Bunkley, NY Times Nick Bunkley, NY Times : ]

Why not pay back your loans all at once since you have enough cash to do so, instead of making quarterly payments?

13:37 Ed Whitacre:

Nick, You have a good idea. We've thought of it too...we'll be looking at that possibility.

13:38

Ed Whitacre:

Guys...I appreciate the time today. Looking forward to our next opportunity to meet. Have a great week.

Ed

Bruce

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