Former General Motors product czar Bob Lutz has chimed in on Harry Wilson’s quest to secure a seat on GM’s board of directors, saying that the former member of Obama’s auto task force would be a “very very valuable” addition.
Working on behalf of four hedge funds, Wilson is vying for a seat on GM’s board and to get GM to commit to buy back $8 billion in stock over the next year. GM said that stockholders will be able to vote on whether to place Wilson on the board, it will consider the repurchase scheme.
According to an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Lutz said he worked closely with Wilson during the 2009 restructuring of GM, being the one member of President Barack Obama’s auto industry rescue team that Lutz interacted with the most leading up to GM’s bankruptcy.
“Harry Wilson actually spent a lot of time with me in product development and with other operations people, and he was the only one who got a really good feel for future potential of the company because he could see the products about to come out,” said Lutz, who retired from GM in 2010.
Though Lutz is not on GM’s board of directors, he considers that Wilson “has spent more time in design and engineering, more time touring assembly plants and more time visiting machine plants than any board member in the company.” Lutz also said that he would be willing to help Wilson in providing advice and guidance on GM-related matters.
Though fond of the idea of having Wilson on GM’s board, Lutz — who has decades of automotive management experience — is not a fan of Wilson’s share buyback proposal.
“I don’t know enough about the balance sheet, don’t know what GM’s cash pile looks like, but to be honest I’m always worried about share repurchases because it seems they are always a harbinger of the next downturn and then you wish you still had that cash,” he said. “In principle, I’ve been through share repurchasing before and in almost all cases you regret it later.”