CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

Business

December 19, 2012

No more 'Government Motors': US selling GM shares

DETROIT — The U.S. government's foray into the car business is slowly coming to an end.

The Treasury Department said Wednesday that it will sell its remaining stake in General Motors in the next year or so, winding down a $50 billion bailout that saved the iconic American car giant but also set off a heated debate about government intervention in private business that even influenced this year's presidential election.

Taxpayers will lose money on the deal, but it gets the government out of the car business. GM has done well over the past three years, piling up $16 billion in profits as car sales bounced back. Now it looks forward to losing the stigma of government ownership — including the derisive moniker "Government Motors" — that it claims cost it sales since it left bankruptcy protection in 2009.

As part of a deal announced Wednesday, GM will spend $5.5 billion to buy back 200 million shares from the Treasury from now through the end of the year. That will leave the government with 300 million shares, or a 19 percent stake, which it plans to sell during the next 12 to 15 months.

The government bailed out GM with $49.5 billion during the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009. Otherwise the struggling automaker would likely have been auctioned off in pieces. The Treasury Department says it will have recouped about $28.7 billion after GM completes its buyback. So, breaking even would require selling the remaining 300 million shares for an average of about $70 each.

That's more than double the current trading price. GM will buy the 200 million shares at $27.50 each, about an 8 percent premium over Tuesday's closing price of $25.49. The shares shot up more than 8 percent to $27.60 in midday trading Wednesday.

At a more realistic price of $30 apiece, the government gets back $9 billion for its remaining shares. That means taxpayers would recoup around $38 billion, or about 77 percent, of the initial investment, resulting in a loss of about $12 billion.

GM says having the government as an owner kept customers away from dealerships. Chief Financial Officer Dan Ammann told reporters Wednesday that GM has "market research that we've done over time that has suggested that the government involvement in the business has had some impact on sales." He added that GM should benefit when the government is completely out.

As part of the stock buyback deal, GM almost immediately will be allowed to own a corporate jet or be required to manufacture a certain percentage of cars and trucks in the U.S. GM says it already has exceeded the manufacturing requirements and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. It has no immediate plans to buy or lease corporate jets, but it has chartered jets for executive travel at times.

However, government-ordered pay restrictions will remain in effect until the Treasury completes the sale of its remaining 19 percent stake. CEO Dan Akerson has said the pay limits have hurt the company as it tries to recruit top talent.

The bailouts of GM and rival Chrysler were part of the Trouble Asset Relief Program created by Congress during the financial crisis in the fall of 2008. Last week, Treasury sold its final shares of stock in insurance giant American International Group, which had received the largest amount of government support during the financial crisis. With Wednesday's GM stock buyback, the government has recovered $386.5 billion — 92 percent — of the $418 billion in funds disbursed through the TARP program.

The GM bailout played a role in this year's presidential election, helping President Barack Obama capture the key state of Ohio, as well as Michigan. Ohio is second only to Michigan in auto-related employment. Obama's opponent, Mitt Romney, opposed the federal bailout, instead favoring private funding to get GM through bankruptcy. But private loans weren't available early in the financial crisis.

Treasury said Wednesday that the investment in GM was worth it.

"The auto industry rescue helped save more than a million jobs during a severe economic crisis," said Timothy Massad, Treasury's assistant secretary for financial stability. "The government should not be in the business of owning stakes in private companies for an indefinite period of time."

Massad said that exiting the GM investment "is consistent with our dual goals of winding down TARP as soon as practicable and protecting taxpayer interests."

Initially the government got 912 million shares in exchange for the money it loaned to GM. It sold 412 million shares for $33 apiece in GM's initial public stock offering in November of 2010.

GM shares rose shortly after the IPO, but then slid as the U.S. economic recovery slowed and Europe's economy took a turn for the worse. As the shares fell, the government balked at further sales.

Although GM is paying a premium for the government shares, Ammann GM's other shareholders benefit because the number of shares on the market will be reduced about 11 percent. That should increase the value of the remaining shares.

The move was approved by the GM board on Tuesday evening after the company got opinions from its management and financial advisers, GM said.

GM will fund the deal out of its cash balance, which at the end of September was close to $32 billion.

AP Business Writer Martin Crutsinger in Washington, D.C., contributed to this report.

 

1
Text Only
Business
  • Facebook tests button to let people shop from its website

    Members on desktop computers or mobile devices can click a "buy" button to make purchases through advertisements or other posts on the world's largest social network, the Menlo Park, California-based company said Thursday in a blog post.

    July 18, 2014

  • WSCC HILL.jpg Hill hits the ground running at Wallace State

    Marcie Hill of Double Springs likes taking on new challenges. As an 18-year veteran of the education system, Hill has taught first grade, sixth grade and served as a reading coach to students and teachers in Kindergarten through sixth grade.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • VIDEO: A boom in firework sales

    This year could be quite the boom for fireworks sales across the U.S. According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, or the APA, sales are already off to a good start.

    July 3, 2014

  • Edward Jones Recognized as 2014 Most Valuable Employer for Military by CivilianJobs.com

    Local financial services firm Edward Jones in the Cullman-area was named a 2014 Most Valuable Employer (MVE) for Military by CivilianJobs.com, recognizing the firm's deep committment to recruiting, training and retaining military veterans as financial advisors.
     

    June 23, 2014

  • CRMC welcomes Harrison.jpg CRMC Welcomes Adam Harrison, DO to the Medical Staff

    Cullman Regional Medical Center (CRMC) is pleased to welcome Adam Harrison, DO to the Medical Staff. Dr. Harrison is originally from Cullman and graduated from Cullman High School in 2002. He obtained his bachelor of biomedical science degree from Auburn University in 2006, and attended Wallace State Community College prior to Auburn. He received his degree in osteopathic medicine in 2010 from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine Georgia Campus in Suwanee, Ga. He successfully completed an internship through Columbus Regional Medical Center in Columbus, Ga., in 2011. He will complete his residency through UAB Family Medicine in Huntsville, Ala.
     

    June 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Deadly guardrails spearing drivers is whistleblower's crusade

    Harman is suing Trinity Highway and its Dallas-based owner, Trinity Industries Inc., alleging that it made quiet design changes that transformed guardrail systems across the U.S. into potentially deadly hazards.

    June 12, 2014

  • google-seo-search-results-screenshot.jpg Your new boss is going to Google you, so make sure she likes what she sees

    This is what a professional online reputation management "campaign" looks like: four people — one patched in via video — around a conference room table, jotting notes on laptops, carefully examining every trace of a client's digital existence and plotting a strategy to improve it.

    June 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Merchants Bank promotes 1.jpg Merchants Bank promotes four officers

    The Board of Directors of Merchants Bank of Alabama, a community bank since 1907, recently announced the promotions of four key officers.
    Kerry Hanvey was promoted from vice president of retail banking to senior vice president of operations. Kerry joined the bank in 1992 and has served in various positions over this 22- year period. Kerry is responsible for bank wide operations for the five bank offices.
     

    June 11, 2014 4 Photos

  • Chamber's June Small Biz of Month.jpg Chamber's June Small Business of the Month winner

    The Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce recently awarded their Small Business of the Month award to Quick Tire Sales of Cullman. The award is given monthly to a local small business that meets nomination requirements. Victor Quick of Quick Tires Sales was thrilled for their business to be selected for this honor.
     

    June 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • $15 minimum wage puts Seattle in uncharted waters

    Depending on which pundit is nattering away, this means Seattle is either going to fall off the map and become a "Mad Max"-style economic wasteland or transform into an egalitarian utopia that inspires sweeping pro-labor activism nationwide.

    June 9, 2014