GM's board: The royal robe fits Fritz

Fritz Henderson: The CFO job followed a string of overseas heroics.
General Motors has seen the future, and his name is Fritz.

In promoting CFO Fritz Henderson to president and COO last week, GM's board transferred a ton of responsibility from Rick Wagoner to the former University of Michigan baseball pitcher.

If there was any doubt about Wagoner's anointed successor as chairman and CEO — well, there is no more.

The heads of GM operations in North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific and every other corner of the globe will report to Henderson. So will purchasing chief Bo Andersson and manufacturing and labor relations boss Gary Cowger.

Bob Lutz, GM's vice chairman, will continue to report to Wagoner.

Wagoner, 55, will spend more time visiting emerging markets and lobbying.

Henderson, 49, has been on a fast track for a long time. The Harvard MBA has roamed the world, handling overseas assignments from 1997 until he was installed as CFO in January 2006 — at the height of GM's most recent financial crisis. He had just turned around GM Europe and before that helped put things right in the Asia-Pacific region.

Ray Young, 46, replaces Henderson as CFO. He had been group vice president of finance.

Wagoner has been CEO since 2000 and until now never had a No. 2 man — a president and COO. But he says GM's top management has become "somewhat stretched." He deflected questions last week when asked whether Henderson is his heir apparent.

Two years ago, the board stood by Wagoner when he was under fire from former investor Kirk Kerkorian. Henderson helped Wagoner survive the crisis and has become a board favorite.

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