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Economy

GM CEO Ed Whitacre To Leave Post Sept. 1

GM CEO Edward Whitacre Jr., celebrates with workers at a news conference at a plant near Kansas City, Kan. in April 2010. Orlin Wagner/AP hide caption

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Orlin Wagner/AP

In an apparent case of leaving while on top, GM chief executive Ed Whitacre has said Thursday he intends to step down Sept. 1 from that key job.

That news came on the same day the federally-bailed-out automaker said it posted second-quarter net income $1.3 billion, or 2.55 a share.

And in one more example of the growing sway private-equity firms today, Whitacre said he will be succeeded as CEO by Daniel Akerson, a managing director of Carlyle Group who also leads that firm's global buyout group.

The selection of a Carlyle Group official to run GM could invite some controversy since private-equity concerns as a group have faced growing criticism for wringing profits out of companies they've invested in often at the expense of employees and the company itself.

On the other hand, a look at Akerson's biography clearly has experience running companies facing challenges and undergoing restructuring. As a private-equity official, he held top positions at General Instrument, MCI, Nextel and XO Communications.

GM, whose shares stopped being traded publicly when the company went through a federally guided restructuring, is preparing to once again sell shares to the public through a initial public offering.

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So Thursday's moves should be seen as part of the preparations for that.

Whitacre, the former CEO of AT&T, was on GM's board last year when it was announced that he would lead the company, taking over from Fritz Henderson who was seen as not moving aggressively enough on a number of restructuring fronts after the federal bailout.