General Motors’ Dan Akerson will step down as chairman and CEO on Jan. 15, 2014, and turn over control to product development chief Mary Barra, the company announced in a statement Tuesday.
“I will leave with great satisfaction in what we have accomplished, great optimism over what is ahead and great pride that we are restoring General Motors as America’s standard bearer in the global auto industry,” the outgoing CEO said in a message to employees.
The announcement comes less than 24 hours after the U.S. government sold its remaining stock in General Motors, posting a $10 billion loss on its $49.5 billion bailout of the automaker.
As CEO, Akerson oversaw the U.S. Treasury’s gradual exit as majority owner of the company and managed the company’s 2010 initial public offering.
“My goals as CEO were to put the customer at the center of every decision we make, to position GM for long term success and to make GM a company that America can be proud of again,” he said Tuesday. “We are well down that path, and I’m certain that our new team will keep us moving in that direction.”
Akerson was appointed GM Chairman and CEO on Sep. 1, 2010, just a few years after the start of the financial crash. He joined the company earlier in 2009 as a member of its Board of Directors.
Along with news of Akerson’s exit, the Board of Directors announced Tuesday that Barra, 51, would also join the GM board.
Barra has been with the automaker for approximately 33 years and was a key player in the company’s 2010 bankruptcy. She will be the company’s first female CEO.
“With an amazing portfolio of cars and trucks and the strongest financial performance in our recent history, this is an exciting time at today’s GM,” Barra said in a statement Tuesday. “I’m honored to lead the best team in the business and to keep our momentum at full speed.”
Although the company’s decision to appoint Barra as CEO isn’t entirely surprising given her background with the company, the suddenness of the announcement has surprised a few on Wall Street. Indeed, according to CNBC, many market watchers had expected the company to deliberate longer on Akerson’s resignation.
But the outgoing CEO’s decision to leave earlier than expected isn’t without its reasons: Akerson had originally played with the idea of stepping down in June 2014, but decided to move the date up so he could spend more time with his wife who was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, a GM spokesman told TheBlaze in an email.
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This post has been updated.