NEW YORK (
) -- The next debate over executive compensation has come with the appointment of Ed Whitacre as permanent CEO of
Along with accepting the permanent position, Whitacre announced that GM will repay all of its outstanding debt -- which includes a $6.7 billion loan provided under the Troubled Asset Relief Program and $1.4 billion owed to Canada -- by June. The debt is not scheduled to come due until 2015, but Whitacre says he believes it is in the best interest of the company -- and its sales -- to free itself of that debt as soon as possible.
Whitacre became the government-appointed interim CEO last month, after Fritz Henderson was let go. At the time, Whitacre said he had no intention of staying in the role long-term. But now that he has accepted the position full-time, all eyes are on his compensation package, which will be announced later in the week.
Whitacre currently received $150,000 as chairman of GM and $200,000 for serving as a board member.
Previously Whitacre served as the chief executive of
. When he resigned from the company in 2007, Whitacre received a hefty $158 million package. And while that might seem like an exorbitant amount of money, Jim Cramer argued during Monday's "Stop Trading!" segment on CNBC that it was well deserved.
"He created that company," said Cramer.
Still, Cramer also said he believes Whitacre will do "the right thing" by GM, and forgo any compensation this time around.
Were Whitacre to forgo compensation as CEO, the decision would not be without precedent.
Chief Executive Vikram Pandit is currently receiving a $1 base salary,
CEO Terry Semel, took a $1 salary for 2008 and
CEO Steve Jobs continued to take his customary $1 salary in 2009.
Thus, we ask: With the car maker attempting to dig out of a hole of debt, would Whitacre be doing the right thing to forfeit his salary?
Take our poll below to learn the consensus of TheStreet -- and feel free to leave a comment to sway the world (and Whitacre) to your way of thinking.
-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.
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