General Motors made it clear before its first annual Global Business Conference it would not entertain any questions about a much-anticipated initial public offering. And since there were only financial analysts in attendance — journalists were in “listen only” mode for the webcast — nobody violated the restriction. We did learn a few things, including the enthusiasm some of the new execs have for the vastly changed corporate culture at the company, and a rundown of some future product.
“I saw a company that was overly complicated, that over-analyzed,” Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre said of the culture when he joined. He also saw a company with global scope, scale and capacity, one that deserved to survive.
North America President Mark Reuss said GM’s incentive spending is down $1,200 per vehicle since June 2009, and its inventory has been cut in half, to about 400,000. Market share is about 20 percent in the U.S., with four core brands instead of eight.
Steve Girsky, vice chairman, corporate strategy and business development, who also worked for GM in 2005-06, said the automaker has cut unnecessary reports and meetings. GM International Operations “used to do 90 different reports a month. Now they do three.”
Before Girsky’s presentation, Tom Stephens, vice chairman, global product operations, gave a rundown of upcoming product. Financial analysts at the GM Tech Center got to see pictures of the new models. Cameras were not allowed.