General Motors boss ousted by company board

Fritz Henderson

Fritz Henderson has stepped down as chief executive of General Motors

Fritz Henderson has stepped down as chief executive of General Motors, the car giant has said.

At a board meeting last night fellow directors told Mr Henderson, who led GM through the largest bakcruptcy in US history in only 40 days, that the firm was not changing fast enough.

It is believed that an outsider will be sought to replace the GM veteran.

GM's chairman, Ed Whitacre, will act as interim chief executive.

The announcement was made at a hastily-arranged two-minute press conference in Detroit. 

Mr Whitacre said Mr Henderson had done 'a remarkable job leading the company through an unprecedented period of challenge and change'.

But he added: 'All involved agree that changes need to be made.'

Mr Henderson was brought in to run GM eight months ago after the Obama administration fired his predecessor, Rick Wagoner.

In a statement the administration distanced itself from Mr Henderson's resignation.

“The decision was made by the board of directors alone,”  a spokesman said. “The administration was not involved in the decision.”

The US government holds a 62 per cent stake in GM and has given it $50billion (£30billion) in state aid.

Mr Henderson has overseen a boost in sales figures at GM, which has lost more than  $80billion (£48billion) in the past four years.

However, he has also suffered a series of setbacks.

Only an hour before last night's meeting GM said it would have to close down Saab if it cannot find a buyer by the end of the year. Three potential Saab sales have fallen through - the latest when Koenigsegg, the Swedish luxury car maker, withdrew from the deal.

Earlier this month GM reversed its decision to sell its European Vauxhall/Opel business. It had agreed to sell it to the Canadian car parts firm Magna, but decided to hang on to it.

GM has also failed to find a buyer for Saturn.

It is cutting around 9,000 jobs across Europe, including up to 350 at its Luton factory.

Vauxhall employs around 5,500 workers in the UK, mainly in Luton and Ellesmere Port on Merseyside, which has escaped any job cuts.

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