Kimberly Blough 6:28 p.m., March 9
Whitacre Wrong Choice for GM, Says Graef Crystal
Former San Diegan Graef Crystal, one of the ranking experts on executive compensation, says on his website (GraefCrystal.com) that Ed Whitacre is a bad choice to be non-executive chairman of General Motors. The government recently appointed him. Whitacre became the head of SBC Communications, since renamed AT&T, in 1990. From then until his retirement, AT&T stock lagged the Dow Jones Industrial Average. From 1994 onward (the first date on which data were available), Whitacre raked in $507 million in total compensation, averaging out to $38 million a year, says Crystal, noting that Whitacre was "one of the most excessively-paid [chief executive officers] in the land." And when he left in 2007, he still had millions of dollars coming. Then there is the second question: what does Whitacre know about cars? He has admitted he knows nothing, but thinks a good manager can run anything. But that is a myth that has been exploded; you have to know the territory, say astute management experts these days.