Automotive News Executive Editor Edward Lapham writes five commentaries each week for autonews.com. You can read them at autonews.com /edwardlapham.
What do you want?
Mr. Kerkorian sent me. I'm here to help you.
You can just imagine how excited General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner, his officer corps and board of directors were to learn that investor Kirk Kerkorian plans to increase his investment in GM and ask for a board seat.
But how bad could it be?
It's not like the GM guys don't know Kerkorian's adjutant, Jerry York. He was in town on an extended tour of duty.
Heck, York and GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz were colleagues at Chrysler, warriors serving together in troubled times. Years later, when York joined Kerkorian in his attempt to take over Chrysler, they might have liked Lutz to run the joint after the war.
But now it's peace time. Kerkorian says he has no hostile intentions at GM, he's just looking to make a couple of bucks. It seems reasonable that an investor who owns 10 percent of a large publicly traded company would want a board seat. I'd want some say in turning things around, wouldn't you?
It wouldn't surprise me to find out that York has been out nosing around GM, looking at future products. After all, York is a car guy. And if he liked what he saw -- some of the new stuff is quite nice -- it could explain why Kerkorian already has upped his stake once and is prepared to raise it again.
Any nervousness at GM probably stems from some of the cockamamie turnaround ideas floating around Wall Street.
As a car guy, York knows how things work, what's necessary and what isn't. Having him represent Kerkorian on the GM board makes sense. If Kerkorian's intentions are honorable, it could be a good thing.
Who knows? Jerry York just might be able to help.