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March 30, 2009

GM CEO forced to quit as auto restructuring plan starts
General Motors Corp (GM) Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner will step down immediately at the request of the White House, the Associated quoted administration officials as saying Sunday.

The news comes as President Obama prepares to unveil additional restructuring efforts designed to save the domestic auto industry.

The officials asked not to be identified because details of the restructuring plan have not yet been made public. On Monday, Obama is to announce plans to restructure GM and Chrysler LLC in exchange for additional government loans. The companies have been living on $17.4 billion in government aid and have requested $21.6 billion more.

Wagoner, 56, joined the company in 1977, serving in several capacities in the U.S., Brazil and Europe. He has been chairman and chief executive since May 1, 2003.

Obama said Sunday that GM and Chrysler and all those with a stake in their survival need to take more hard steps to help the struggling automakers restructure for the future.

In an interview with CBS'"Face the Nation" broadcast Sunday, Obama said the companies must do more to receive additional financial aid from the government.

"They're not there yet," he said.

A person familiar with Obama's plans said last week they would go deeper than what the Bush administration demanded when it approved the initial loans last year.

Wagoner's departure indicates that more management changes may be part of the deal. Wagoner has repeatedly said he felt it was better for the company if he led it through the crisis.

Wagoner, in an interview with The Associated Press in December, declined to speculate on suggestions from some members of Congress that GM's leadership team should step down as part of any rescue package.

"I'm doing what I do because it adds a lot of value to the company," Wagoner said in a Dec. 4 interview as GM sought federal aid from the Bush administration. "It's not clear to me that experience in this industry should be viewed as a negative but I'm going to do what's right for the company and I'll do it in consultation with the (GM) board (of directors)."


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