GM names Mary Barra as CEO - first woman to run major automaker - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

GM names Mary Barra as CEO - first woman to run major automaker

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(CNN MONEY ) - General Motors on Tuesday promoted insider Mary Barra to serve as the new chief executive officer, the first female head of a major U.S. automaker.

Barra, an executive vice president and 33-year GM veteran, will succeed current CEO Dan Akerson on January 15, the company said.

Akerson, 65, is retiring several months earlier than planned because his wife has an advanced stage of cancer, the automaker said.

The announcement comes at an important time for General Motors -- one day after the U.S. Treasury Department said it had sold its final financial stake in the company, closing the book on its 2009 taxpayer bailout of the auto industry.

GM (GM, Fortune 500) shares are up more than 40% so far this year. The company has earned nearly $20 billion in net income since 2010, the year it returned to profitability after emerging from bankruptcy.

Also, J.D. Power gave top ranks to GM in quality this year for the first time, in its annual auto survey.

In addition to selecting Barra, the board of directors on Tuesday named Theodore "Tim" Solso to succeed Akerson as chairman. Akerson became CEO in September 2010, and Barra will become GM's fifth CEO in less than five years.

Since August, Barra has served as executive vice president of global product development and global purchasing and supply chain, according to her company bio.

For more than two years before that, she was an executive VP focusing on international design, engineering, program management and quality. Earlier, she was vice president of global human resources. Barra started at GM when she was 18 as part of a cooperative education program.

She was paid $4.9 million in total compensation last year, according to corporate documents. That includes a salary of $750,000.

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