GM Pulls From PE Ranks for Next CEO

Dan Akerson today agreed to become the new CEO of General Motors, where he presumably will oversee the company’s return to the public markets. He currently serves as a managing director and global head of buyouts for The Carlyle Group, which he joined in 2003 from Forstmann Little.

A Carlyle spokesman tells me that firm co-founder Bill Conway will succeed Akerson as head of global buyouts, a role that he has previously held. This means that Conway will oversee Carlyle’s largest business unit, which includes more than 220 investment professionals.

Akerson also is expected to be replaced on his two Carlyle board seats: Booz Allen Hamilton (in registration for an IPO) and Freescale Semiconductor (expected to file this year for an IPO).

I bunch of people today have asked me about why GM would pull from the private equity ranks for its new CEO, particularly given “private equity’s inability to turn Chrysler around.” Well, the first thing is that Carlyle had nothing to do with Chrysler. Second, Ackerson has been on the GM board since last July, and the company just reported its highest quarterly profit in six years.

Finally, GM has no reason to be scared off by a guy whose past executive experience has been in telecom (MCI, Nextel, XO Communications). After all, departing CEO Ed Whitacre previously ran telecom giant AT&T, and did I mention those profits?