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GM's New Chief Akerson Swings a Big Stick

A former hard-charging telecom executive turned buyout specialist, Dan Akerson is set to take the helm at GM.



) -- Dan Akerson was a make-it-happen telecom executive at






who later made his mark in private equity as a clean-up specialist who fitted

General Instruments

into a takeover by




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board member Akerson was named Thursday as the next CEO of the soon-to-go-public automaker when Ed Whitacre departs in September.

GM's new future CEO Dan Akerson

Fond of Teddy "Speak softly and carry a big stick" Roosevelt, Akerson keeps on his office wall a quote from Roosevelt's 1910 speech known as

"The Man in the Arena

." It's a 142-word hardcharger's call-to-battle that extolls the individual who valiantly dares to be great.

That's probably just the sort of go-getter spirit that GM's board and Whitacre were looking for to help retool and sharpen GM.

"I love him, but he's a very hard-nosed results-oriented guy," said Bay Bridge Capital's Blake Bath who worked for Akerson when he was CFO at long-distance phone upstart MCI.

Akerson was instrumental in raising finances to get MCI into the ring with Ma Bell as the


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monopoly was being dismantled. Private equity shop Forstmann recruited Akerson in 1993 to take the top job at cable set-top box maker General Instruments, which was later acquired by Motorola.

In 1996, Akerson took the CEO job at Nextel and later became chairman. Nextel phones became a popular device among work teams who favored the walkie-talkie service. Nextel was acquired by Sprint in 2004.

Before GM, Akerson was head of global buyouts at the Carlyle Group. In July 2009, he joined the GM board.

--Written by Scott Moritz in New York.