Automaker group still on hunt for high-profile CEO

Washington: The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM) is continuing its search for a new CEO after being rebuffed by Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson.

Washington: The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM) is continuing its search for a new CEO after being rebuffed by Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson.

The association reportedly offered him a $1 million annual salary. But one industry source said Thompson is probably too independent-minded to be able to take orders from the often-fractious group of automakers. "It's hard for them to agree on a name for this group, let alone policy," the source said.

The CEO job is a new one at the four-year-old organization. AAM president Josephine Cooper had been CEO as well, but the group decided it wanted a separate chief executive who could be the industry's public face on key issues involving safety and the environment. Cooper will remain president, and take on the COO title.

Gloria Bergquist, communications VP at the alliance, would not comment on whet her Thompson had been offered the job, though she did confirm that a search has been ongoing since April. "We're looking for a very high-profile person, a political marquee name," said Bergquist of the CEO search.

The AAM came into existence in January 1999, replacing a group that represented only American automakers.

The Daimler-Chrysler merger caused the group to rethink its membership and open itself to non-US car manufacturers. It now includes major US, European, and Japanese automakers. The group's members decided early on that the AAM would speak for the industry only on issues involving the environment and safety. Topics such as labor issues were considered potentially too divisive.

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