Asked by White House to Quit, GM Chief Is Stepping Down

Administration source says Rick Wagoner's exit part of GM reorganization plan.

ByABC News
March 29, 2009, 3:44 PM

March 29, 2009— -- The chief executive officer of General Motors has resigned following a request from the Obama administration, a White House official told ABC News.

The resignation of GM CEO Richard Wagoner is part of the administration's plans to restructure the nation's beleaugered auto industry, which President Obama is expected to unveil Monday, the official said.

GM did not provide official comment.

Wagoner was told on Friday, during a meeting with Obama's Auto Task Force, that he needed to resign and he agreed, ABC News has learned.

Citing two people familiar with the Obama plan who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it, The Associated Press reported late today that administration plans to give GM enough government aid to restructure over the next 60 days.

Wagoner, who has led GM for more than eight years, and his fellow auto company CEOs stirred furor three months ago after flying to Congress in private jets to seek billions in government aid.

A month later they returned, this time travelling to the capital in fuel-efficient hybrid cars.

Wagoner, 56, began his career at GM in 1977, working as an analyst for its New York treasurer's office. Wagoner was promoted to several positions within the company, including managerial roles in Europe and South America, before being named CEO in 2000.

Wagoner's succesor has not been announced but GM President and Chief Operating Officer Frederick Henderson may be among those in line for the position.

The resignation announcement has already been met with some criticism: Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Mich., called the resignation a "political offering."

"Mr. Wagoner has been asked to resign as a political offering despite his having led GM's painful restructuring to date. Mr. Wagoner has honorably resigned for the sake of his company's working families," McCotter said in a statement issued this evening. "When will the Wall Street CEOs receiving TARP funds summon the honor to resign? Will this White House ever bother to raise the issue? I doubt it."

The president and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner spoke briefly about plans to reorganize the auto industry in interviews this weekend but did not mention Wagoner's resignation.