NEW YORK (CNNfn) - General Motors Corp. Chief Financial Officer J. Michael Losh will step down next week and be replaced on an interim basis by the current head of the automaker's financial services unit, the automaker announced Thursday.|
The news ends months of speculation about Losh's future with the world's largest automaker after rumors began surfacing earlier this summer that GM had hired an executive search firm to find an outside candidate to replace him.
John Finnegan, 51, GM executive vice president and also chairman and president of General Motors Acceptance Corp., will assume the CFO duties on an interim basis in addition to his existing duties, the company said.
"During his 36-year career at GM, Mike has made a tremendous contribution to GM in a broad range of assignments," Chief Executive Officer Richard Wagoner said in a statement. "And, he's been a long-time advisor and friend to me and many others in the company. We thank him and wish him well."
Losh's retirement is the second major change in GM's top management since Wagoner was appointed chief executive officer in June. Earlier this month, the company promoted two executives to run its vehicle development and manufacturing arms.
In an interview with CNNfn.com, Losh said he was originally supposed to retire in June but he agreed to work on a month-to-month basis while GM conducted its search. However, recently he decided to set a firm date for retirement in order to pursue new opportunities.
"It just go to the point where I needed to get on with some things in my life," Losh said, adding he intends to take some time off before deciding which options to pursue.
Losh, who has been chief financial officer for the last six years, has had a somewhat cool relationship with Wall Street at times, leading some analysts to speculate that GM is looking for someone who will be more open to investors.
"This is no big surprise," said Rod Lache, auto analyst with Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown. "It's been rumored for some time. As far as share price, I think it depends on who they put in there. Right now there's a vacuum. If they put someone in who is shareholder-oriented, it should help."
Last week the company revealed that corporate financier Carl Icahn planned to purchase a stake of up to 15 percent of the company.
A native of Dayton, Ohio, Losh was a true company man. He graduated from the General Motors Institute (GMI) with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering in 1970, having been sponsored by the former Inland Division parts unit at GM.
He began his GM career in 1964 as a GMI student sponsored by the former Inland Division. Before becoming CFO in July 1994, he served as general manager of Pontiac Motor Division from 1984 to 1989 and as general manager of the Oldsmobile Division from 1989 to 1994.
Finnegan had headed GM Acceptance Corp., which makes cars and consumer loans, since May, 1999. He joined GM in 1976, and has served in a number of financial positions, including vice president and treasurer of GM, based in New York, a position he held from 1995 to 1997.
Shares of GM gained 3-15/16 to 72-7/8 Thursday.