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GM CEO Rick Wagoner Resigns at Request of Obama Administration; Will Receive $23 Million from GM

G. Richard "Rick" Wagoner Jr., CEO and chairperson of General Motors since June 2000, has resigned under pressure from Obama administration officials. In a statement, Wagoner says, "On Friday, I was in Washington for a meeting with administration officials. In the course of that meeting, they requested that I 'step aside' as CEO of GM, and so I have." In a statement this morning, President Barack Obama said of the resignation, "This is not meant as a condemnation of Mr. Wagoner, who has devoted his life to this company; rather, it's a recognition that it will take a new vision and new direction to create the GM of the future." The Associated Press (AP) reports that Wagoner will be given a financial package valued at approximately $23 million from the company. While the terms of GM's government loans prevent it from giving severance packages to executives, they do not prohibit the distribution of earned pension funds. AP says that as of December 31, Wagoner's accumulated pension was valued at approximately $22.1 million, but he will receive that over the rest of his life, so the actual amount may vary; AP says he will also receive about $367,000 in stock awards and $535,000 in defered compensation. GM says Fritz Henderson, currently its president and COO, will replace Wagoner as CEO; Kent Kresa, former chair of Northrop Grumman and a member of GM's board of directors, will take over as interim board chair. "The board has recognized for some time that the company's restructuring will likely cause a significant change in the stockholders of the company and create the need for new directors with additional skills and experience," says Kresa. "The board intends to work to nominate a slate of directors for the next annual meeting that will include a majority of new directors, taking into account the addition of new directors, retirement, and decisions by individual directors not to stand for re-election, although the specific individuals who will be nominated or choose not to run or leave the board are not yet known."

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