Hughes Head Smith Retires5/25/2001 7:40 AM Eastern
Hughes Electronics Corp. chairman and CEO Michael Smith announced his
Smith has come under fire from Hughes and General Motors Corp. insiders in
recent months for publicly opposing a proposed News Corp. deal to merge its
SkyGlobal Networks assets with Hughes' DirecTV Inc.
GM vice chairman Harry Pearce has replaced Smith as Hughes chairman, and Jack
Shaw has been promoted to Hughes CEO.
In a conference call with reporters Friday, Pearce would not comment on
whether Smith's opposition to the News deal helped to speed along his retirement
plans. He said Smith elected to retire and the GM and Hughes boards agreed with
Pearce added that Smith would be retained as a consultant to Hughes.
But others were more skeptical. 'Clearly, he was a roadblock. You don't
retire at 57 in the middle of merging with someone else,' one observer said.
A Hughes spokesman said Smith was not available for comment.
Pearce would not elaborate on the company's merger talks with News, nor would
he confirm whether GM had received a bid for Hughes from EchoStar Communications
'Our respective boards have a fiduciary obligation to give consideration to
any and all serious proposals,' Pearce added.