WASHINGTON (By John Crawley) - General Motors Co Chief Executive Dan Akerson said on Friday that the automaker is seeking "some relaxation" in the restrictions on executive pay imposed by the U.S. government.
"We have to be competitive and retain talent," Akerson said in response to a question at the Economic Club of Washington, D.C. "We're starting to lose them now."
Akerson said he would meet with the U.S. Treasury's special paymaster on Friday to discuss the issue of executive compensation.
Akerson guided GM through its blockbuster initial public offering in November that reduced the U.S. Treasury's stake to about 33 percent from 61 percent.
The IPO for the top U.S. automaker came just over a year after it was put through a restructuring in bankruptcy funded by the Obama administration.
Akerson, who in September became GM's fourth CEO in under two years, said the automaker was determined to never repeat the missteps that led to its 2009 bailout.
"We are humbled by our near-death experience," he said.
In his speech, one of his highest profile public appearances since the IPO, Akerson repeated several key points that GM and its bankers made to investors during the run-up to the record $23.1 billion share offering.
Akerson said investors "saw a new company" with a competitive cost structure, leaner inventories, stronger brands and new success in avoiding the damaging discounting that it relied on to drive sales earlier this decade.
"All of which is resulting in improved earnings and cash flow," Akerson said just blocks from the executive office building where Obama administration officials orchestrated the company's wrenching overhaul.
Akerson said GM was positioned to break even if industry-wide auto sales were to retreat and was "better positioned" than other automakers to take advantage of the "huge growth potential" of China, India and Brazil.
(Reporting by John Crawley; writing by Kevin Krolicki, editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Dave Zimmerman)
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