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GM Head Whitacre Hires Ex-AT&T Colleagues as Lobbyists

Former AT&T Inc. (T) CEO Ed Whitacre, who now serves as chairman of General Motors Co., has hired two of his former colleagues to lobby for the struggling car maker.

John Montford and Robert Ferguson will move to GM to serve as senior adviser to Whitacre and vice president of government relations, respectively. Montford most recently served as senior vice president of state legislative affairs for AT&T and worked with Whitacre at Southwestern Bell. He is 66 years old. Ferguson, meanwhile, used to work as president of state legislative and regulatory affairs at AT&T and he worked at SBC Communications Inc., the behemoth that bought AT&T in 2005. Ferguson is 50 years old.

“Whitacre is putting in place people that, for him, have a proven record,” Rebecca Lindland, an analyst at IHS Global Insight, told Bloomberg. They “suit his management strategy and they don’t particularly need automotive experience.”

Montford and Ferguson will replace Ken Cole, who’s retiring from his position as vice president for government relations some time in 2010.

Whitacre, 68, came out of retirement to join GM as chairman in June; he took over as CEO as well on Dec. 1 after the GM board ousted Fritz Henderson. Whitacre is charged with turning around the car maker that took billions in government bailout dollars and still went bankrupt in June. However, GM emerged from bankruptcy sooner than expected and is among the companies scrambling to repay the bailout money so the government can’t have a say in executive compensation and bonuses.


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