Rift between GM’s Akerson and Ewanick started weeks ago, sources say

Article by Anita Panait, on August 9, 2012

The dispute between General Motors Co. Chief Executive Dan Akerson and former GM Global Marketing Chief Joel Ewanick started weeks before the latter was ousted, sources told Bloomberg. Ewanick was forced to resign from GM after he failed to properly divulge up to a third of the cost of the $559-million football sponsorship agreement with the UK's Manchester United team, the same sources divulged.

The sources also revealed that Akerson had punished Ewanick by having him carry a so-called "Farley Award," named for Ford Motor Co. marketing chief Jim Farley, over Ewanick's public profanity during a June conference in Cannes, France.

The sources also told Bloomberg that Akerson would no longer protect Ewanick after a witness stepped forward and GM discovered that its former marketing chief was spreading the price of a Chevrolet sponsorship agreement, with Manchester United, among other different marketing budgets to avoid going over the chief executive's spending limits.

Ewanick denied the issues when confronted. Two of the sources told Bloomberg that there is no evidence that Ewanick profited from the deal, while another source divulged that the investigation continues. With Ewanick’s exit from GM, Akerson is now facing steeper challenges. Mike Jackson, a former vice president of marketing of the carmaker, said that Ewanick had cultivated plenty of very influential relationships, making his removal a huge setback for GM. [source: Bloomberg]

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