General Motors names Mary Barra as new boss

Mary Barra, 51, joined the company as an engineering student

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US car giant General Motors (GM) has named product development chief Mary Barra to the post of chief executive.

She will replace Daniel Akerson, and be the first woman to run a US carmaker.

Ms Barra joined GM as an electrical engineering student in 1980 and has worked her way up to lead GM's global product development.

The product development job is considered a critical role at a carmaker and Ms Barra received praise for her leadership of GM's unit.

Under her leadership, GM rolled out new pick-up trucks and the Chevrolet Impala, which was highly rated by Consumer Reports magazine.

Slashing paperwork

"With an amazing portfolio of cars and trucks and the strongest financial performance in our recent history, this is an exciting time at today's GM," Ms Barra said in a company statement.

Ms Barra also has a reputation for keeping costs down and cutting bureaucracy.

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As head of human resources after the 2009 bailout, she was credited with slashing paperwork - including a 10 page-dress code.

She's also of GM lineage: her father worked for 39 years as a dye maker for the car manufacturer in its now defunct Pontiac division.

Government exit

Earlier this week the US government sold its remaining shares in GM.

Overall, it lost around $10bn (£6bn) on its bailout of the carmaker in the aftermath of the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009.

The US Treasury spent $49.5bn bailing out GM, and took a 61% stake in the company.

GM's current chief executive and chairman, Mr Akerson, will leave both of his posts in mid-January. His wife has recently been diagnosed with advanced cancer.

In a message to the company's employees on Tuesday, Mr Akerson said: "I will leave with great satisfaction in what we have accomplished, great optimism over what is ahead and great pride that we are restoring General Motors as America's standard bearer in the global auto industry."

Current chief financial officer, Dan Ammann, was named GM president. He will also take responsibility for the Cadillac and Chevrolet brands.

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