GM CEO Says Government Bailout Was Right Thing to Do

The federal government's controversial decision to step in and save General Motors from insolvency was the right thing to do, the automaker's new Chief Executive Daniel Akerson (pictured) said Thursday in Detroit.

The Republican-leaning Akerson said he agreed with the decision to loan General Motors $50 billion to help restructure and modernize the iconic car company, despite his political beliefs, the Detroit Free Press newspaper reported.

Speaking to reporters during his first on-the-record session with the media since becoming CEO on Sept. 1, Akerson said GM's pending initial public offering of stock won't result in the government selling off its 61% equity stake in "one fell swoop." Rather, it will take a few years.

No Comment on the IPO

The automaker filed papers last month with the Securities and Exchange Commission to once again become a publicly traded company. GM will begin a "road show" -- soliciting investors to buy stock -- after the nation's mid-term elections Nov. 2, with the goal of holding the stock offering before December.

Akerson declined to answer additional questions about the IPO, citing federal regulations that require company management to keep quiet prior to the offering of stock, which some analysts expect will begin trading Nov. 18.

Akerson, 61, took over as CEO from Edward Whitacre, the former AT&T (T) chief executive tapped by President Obama to lead GM out of its government-backed bankruptcy reorganization. Whitacre remains GM's chairman, a post he will relinquish to Akerson at year's end.

New CEO Plans to Stick Around

During Whitacre's short 10-month tenure as CEO, GM underwent a management shakeup. But Akerson said Thursday he plans to leave existing management intact, The Wall Street Journal reported. Also unlike Whitacre, who said he had no plans to remain long term at GM when he accepted the position, Akerson said he "is not here for the short term."

He also said GM's struggling European unit, Opel, will take some time to repair. But the Germany-based company doesn't need a partner.

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Further, Akerson said GM management is preparing for negotiations next year with the United Auto Workers union, a relationship, he said isn't viewed as adversarial. The UAW holds a 17.5% stake in GM through its health care trust. GM, Akerson said, will weigh sacrifices made by workers over the last few years now that GM is making money.

GM has reported two successive quarters of profits following a $4.3 billion loss recorded in the last six months of last year, after emerging from bankruptcy.

Last week, GM disclosed Akerson would be paid $9 million as CEO, including an annual salary of $1.7 million. The former Carlyle Group managing director will also receive a portion of his salary in the form of stock, totaling $5.3 million, which will be paid out over three years beginning September 2011. Akerson will also get $2 million in restricted stock through GM's long-term incentive plan, according to a filing with the SEC.