The firing of General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner seven years ago took many by surprise. But Wagoner's friend and adviser Jay Alix said Wagoner was keenly aware that he could be a casualty of a U.S. government rescue long before he lost his job in March 2009.
Alix reminisced last week after a screening of the auto bailout documentary Live Another Day. He said he and Wagoner discussed in late 2008 the prospect of Wagoner getting canned and agreed there were higher priorities:
n GM needed as much as $50 billion from Washington to stay afloat. (GM got it.)
n GM would have to avoid a protracted bankruptcy. (GM exited within six weeks.)
n Fritz Henderson would need to succeed Wagoner. (Henderson did, albeit briefly.)
Alix's counsel to Wagoner:
"If we can do that, then you, Rick, would have been successful, even though you got shot on the battlefield.
"And he said, "I can live with that.'"