Updated with comments from news conference
) -- A year after he was named to be chairman of
, Ed Whitacre has added the CEO's job to his resume.
Whitacre, the onetime CEO of AT&T, had been the auto company's acting CEO since Dec. 1, when Fritz Henderson departed and GM's board retained an outside search firm to find a replacement. "The board looked at the potential candidates and decided this place needs stability: We don't need any more uncertainty," Whitacre said Monday at a news conference. "They asked me if I would do it, and I said yes."
Whitacre said he had not intended to become CEO, "but as so often happens, you get in the middle of something, you start to like the people, you feel comfortable ... you sort of get pulled in." He declined to say how long he would remain on the job, or what his salary will be.
He indicated that his motivation in leading GM is partially patriotic. "I think this company is good for America," he said, because the country is better off with a strong automobile manufacturing sector.
GM is performing well and is "significantly ahead of all the metrics we had detailed in the viability plan," Whitacre said. One result is that the company intends to pay back its loans from the U.S. Treasury and the Canadian government by June. But he declined to say when GM stock will return to the public markets.
-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.