According to people close to the matter, General Motors Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson could step down as early as next year though he has not formally notified the board of his plans and an official search for his successor has not yet begun.
GM’s board is not in any rush to see Akerson, 65, leave and has not set a timeframe for hiring an executive search firm to weigh potential internal or external candidates, said one of the sources, which is familiar with the board’s thinking.
Speculation about Akerson’s exit gained steam in April, when GM disclosed in a securities filing that his compensation plan had changed. The CEO was not awarded any restricted stock units last year “in acknowledgement of the possibility of his retirement before the completion of the three-year vesting period,” which would be in 2015.
Investors have focused on four senior GM executives as the most likely successors to Akerson, with North American operations head Mark Reuss widely seen as the frontrunner. But the board will still launch an official search once Akerson formalizes his plans, said the person familiar with the board’s thinking.
GM representatives said the company has succession plans in place, but declined to give the details. “We’re very comfortable with our succession planning, which we have in place for all our key officers,” GM’s head of communications Selim Bingol said.
Akerson was appointed CEO just before GM re-entered public markets on November 2010, following the $49.5 billion government bailout and bankruptcy reorganization. As he sets the road map for completing the No.1 U.S. automaker’s restructuring, the timing of his departure has taken on added importance to investors.