As

new chairman

of the bankrupt

GM

(GMGMQ)

, former

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

chief Ed Whitacre will oversee a selloff of company assets under government control, a perfect fit for a guy who put together a string of

colossal telco acquisitions

while sparring with regulators.

"The appointment of Ed Whitacre as chairman represents a very auspicious beginning for the new GM," said GM's interim chairman Kent Kresa in a press release Tuesday.

Auspicious indeed. By the time Whitacre left AT&T with a

Mega Millions-sized exit package

in 2007, he had spent the early part of this decade effectively reuniting most of Ma Bell's regional parts that had been broken up by court order in 1984.

Along that rollup path, which included SBC's purchase of Cingular -- renamed AT&T Wireless -- AT&T and finally Bell South, Whitacre

complained of a "regulatory morass"

that stood in the way of his acquisition strategy.

Whitacre will now have to work closely with federal officials who are serving as watchdogs for the taxpayer backed restructuring of GM.

The financial rewards, however, may not be as great as his telco days. AT&T's merger route was a golden path for Whitacre personally. In 2002, amid a telecom meltdown, Whitacre pocketed $10.1 million totally pay. The next year he doubled that with $20 million. The stock didn't fare as well, falling 32% in 2002 and another 4% in 2003.

Whitacre capped off his AT&T career by handing over the top job to current CEO Randall Stephenson. Critics of executive pay remember the day well, recalling Whitacre's $158 million exit package.