Washington, DC – GM CEO Rick Wagoner has stepped down at the request of the US presidential administration. He will be succeeded as CEO by COO Fritz Henderson.

Board member Kent Kresa, Chairman Emeritus of Northrop Grumman, will take over as interim non-executive chairman of the GM board.

GM has said it will shed 47,000 jobs globally in 2009, and plans to close fi ve assembly plants. Executives said the Detroit-based automaker will focus on four US brands and eliminate thousands of dealers.

Wagoner has run GM since June 2000, presiding over $82 billion in losses since the end of 2004, the company’s last profi table year.

Wagoner had been outspoken in his opposition to a Chapter 11 reorganization of GM, saying it would drive away consumers and probably lead to GM’s liquidation.