Named to his new position on Tuesday, Dan Ammann
will fill what many analysts and investors saw as a gap in his
resume by managing GM's regional operations around the globe and
perhaps preparing himself to take over as CEO one day.
Ammann has tried to prove his "car guy" credentials in several
ways, including being one of only about 30 company executives
who are certified to drive at high speeds at GM's Michigan test
track. And he is a certified test driver at the famous
Nurburgring Nordschleife racetrack in Germany.
GM did not make Ammann available to comment
Independent auto analyst Maryann Keller said that Ammann
complements the skills of Mary Barra, who will replace retiring
CEO Dan Akerson in January.
"He's a finance person in a No. 2 position because clearly
that's the one thing in her resume that's lacking," said Keller
of the pairing of Ammann and Barra as GM's top leaders.
Someone familiar with the GM board's thinking said that Ammann,
41, works "amazingly well" with Barra, who will be 52 once she
takes over as CEO.
"They have complementary skill sets and the personalities are
such that they work really well as a team," said the person, who
asked not to be identified discussing the process.
In addition to running the regional units, Ammann will have the
Chevrolet and Cadillac brand operations and GM Financial report
to him. Analysts welcomed his promotion as it keeps the highly
regarded executive in the fold and gives him the operational
experience many felt he lacked to round out his resume.
"Who's to say that in 10 years he might not be the successor to
Mary," said the source. "There's about a 10-year age difference
between the two of them. It's perfect."
Alan Baum, an industry consultant, said, the enhanced role
Ammann will fill shows that GM knows that it also needs to have
someone with his financial expertise near the top.
"How do you maintain what they call a fortress balance sheet
while also investing in the product line and regional
opportunities around the world? His non-automotive experience
will remain in play," said Baum.
An analyst who wished to remain anonymous said that the naming
of Ammann as the second-in-command at GM was a nod to Wall
"They had to throw a bone to Wall Street," the analyst said. "I
like Dan a lot. He's a smart guy, but he's got a lot to learn
Ammann will retain his CFO duties, which he assumed in April
2011, until at least the company's next quarterly earnings
report in early February. The New Zealand native joined GM in
2010 as vice president of finance and treasurer.
This promotion was announced a day after the U.S. Treasury said
it had sold the last of its GM shares, which could clear the way
for the restoration of a common stock dividend for investors.
(Additional reporting by Ben Klayman
and Deepa Seetharaman in Detroit; editing by Lisa Shumaker)
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