For most companies, a board meeting to set the dividend is about as exciting as watching grass grow. But today's session of General Motors' board could prove to be a head-banger. This is the traditional time of year for GM's board to set its dividend. Can we expect a 50 percent cut in the dividend? A salary cut for top executives? A board seat for Jerry York, the triggerman for billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian? In fact, York recommended a dividend cut last month during his famous speech in Detroit. He also called for salary cuts and the elimination of some brands. During a press scrum last week in Baltimore, GM CEO Rick Wagoner disputed the need to kill any brands. But he said that some of York's other proposals might make sense. "I can't say (a dividend cut) is an item on the agenda," Wagoner said, "but, obviously, (the board members) have had a chance to see Jerry's remarks."
Is GM board ready to embrace Jerry York?
STAR CARS -- Cadillac sought ideas from actors, hip-hop artists and jazz musicians when it redesigned the 2007 Escalade. So it seems fitting that the Escalade will be the official vehicle to transport stars to the 48th annual Grammy Awards on Wednesday, Feb. 8, in Los Angeles. The 120 Grammy Escalades will have special exterior badges, grilles and floor mats. After the show, the Grammymobiles will go on sale at California Cadillac dealerships. A fully equipped Escalade ESV -- without that spectacular special badging -- sells for about $65,000. But a GM spokeswoman says dealers can charge whatever they want for the limited-edition vehicles. And if, say, Snoop Dogg should leave a gum wrapper in the back seat, who knows what the market will bear?
OUT OF THE FOLD -- Add Eckhard Cordes' name to the list of executives who have found work outside the auto industry. Cordes, former chief executive of the Mercedes Car Group, is the new chairman of Franz Haniel & Cie GmbH, a diverse German industrial group with 53,000 employees and annual sales of about $29 billion. Cordes quit Mercedes last August after Dieter Zetsche was chosen as chairman of DaimlerChrysler to succeed Juergen Schrempp.
FROM PR TO POLITICS ... TO PR -- At least he gave it a shot, eh? That's how Greig Mordue, a spokesman for Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada, views his unsuccessful campaign for a Liberal Party seat in Canada's Parliament. Mordue, 44, took a leave last fall from his PR office at Toyota's plant in Cambridge, Ontario, in an effort to unseat Conservative Dave Mackenzie in the January elections. Mackenzie held on handily, and Mordue finished second in a field of seven. "It wasn't a bad showing," Mordue says in upbeat PR-guy style. "We ran a good campaign."