Head of GM Chrysler Oversight Panel Resigns

teven Rattner, who was named by President Obama to head the US government panel overseeing the bankruptcy of General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC, announced his resignation on July 14.

The head decision-maker and leader of the automaker task force will now be Ron Bloom, who will preside over the panel’s final moves and the resale of US taxpayer interests in the companies.

These changes signal a ramping down of US government involvement in the running of GM and Chrysler. Clint Currie of Concept Capital’s Washington Research Group says, ‘The administration definitely wants the perception to be out there that they’re not going to have their fingerprints in every decision.’

The effective date of Rattner’s resignation is unknown, but his stepping down is being reported as the next natural step in encouraging the auto giants to move forward on their own.

Rattner’s private equity firm Quadrangle Group LLC will not see the return of their cofounder, and he refused to comment on further plans. Quadrangle has been under federal and state investigation in New York for their handling of pension funds.

It is reported that President Obama was made aware of the probes at the time of Rattner’s naming to the oversight panel yet remained confident in him. Obama press secretary Robert Gibbs said in April that Rattner has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

The US government has a 60.8% ownership of the new GM, and a 9.85% ownership stake in the new Chrysler. Both automakers have closed dealerships around the country and have completed restructuring designed to help them move forward in the current market and move beyond federal control.

The treasury department has indicated that further involvement in the new GM and Chrysler will be limited to choosing board members. Before his departure, Rattner said, ‘We are not going to micromanage or get involved in day-to-day decisions. We are not picking colors of cars.’

Rattner’s successor Ron Bloom is a former Wall Street investment banker and United Steelworkers Union adviser whose job will be to reduce the role of the federal government and its stake in GM and Chrysler as soon as possible. According to analyst Michael Robinet of CSM Worldwide, a leading provider of financial and market analysis for the auto industry, ‘The American Public does not want to be long term owners of car companies.’

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