Ed Whitacre Jr. to step down from GM Sept. 1....

Ed Whitacre Jr. to step down from GM Sept. 1. (January 2010) Credit: AP

DETROIT - General Motors Co. chief executive Ed Whitacre resigned suddenly yesterday even as GM posted its biggest quarterly profit in six years and readied an IPO expected to allow the U.S. government to relinquish its majority stake.

Whitacre, 68, who has served just eight months as chief executive of the top U.S. automaker, said he would resign Sept. 1, to be replaced by Dan Akerson.

Akerson, 61, a veteran deal maker and managing director of The Carlyle Group for the past seven years, was named to GM's board by the Obama administration a year ago when the automaker was restructured in bankruptcy with $50 billion of U.S. government funding.

Thursday, GM posted a second-quarter profit of $1.3 billion in evidence of a turnaround driven by cost-cutting in its 2009 bankruptcy and better sales in the United States.

The second-quarter profit was the largest since 2004, when the U.S. auto market was still booming and GM's brands accounted for more than one in four new car and truck purchases. Revenue rose to $33.2 billion from $31.5 billion in the first quarter.

Whitacre's departure had been expected but the timing of his announcement caught even GM insiders off guard, just a day ahead of the automaker's expected filing for a landmark stock offering.

The U.S. Treasury said GM's board made the decision, which did not require government approval.

Whitacre, who continued to commute from his home in Texas during his stint at the Detroit-based company, had said repeatedly that he would be an interim leader.

"We have put a strong foundation in place, so I am very comfortable with my timing," he said Thursday.

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