Last spring, now-former General Motors CEO Ed Whitacre ruffled a lot of feathers in Washington by airing a TV commercial where he claimed that the bailed-out car company had repaid “government loan in full, with interest, five years ahead of the original schedule,” without mentioning that taxpayers still owned 61% of GM. Today, new GM CEO Dan Akerson opted for a more honest approach, not only admitting that his company still owes billions to the government, but that it’s going to take “several years” to pay it back.
In his first meeting with the press since becoming CEO earlier this month, Akerson said GM intends to pay back all the bailout money as soon as possible, but that it would be “unrealistic” to think it could be paid back all at once.
Perhaps the biggest issue involving the payback of bailout cash is the impending IPO that is reportedly going to happen by the end of 2010. However, Akerson said he couldn’t comment on the IPO because of SEC regulations.
What he did say is that a “culture of speed” needs to be introduced at GM: “We need to have an attacking culture, not a defending culture.”