U.S. sells GM shares, plans to exit ownership within 15 months
Now down to a 19 percent stake, the government says it will sell the remaining shares by 2014.
The Treasury, which pumped $49.5 billion into GM during the automaker's bankruptcy proceedings in 2009, once owned 61 percent of the company.
Its current 26.5 percent stake has been cut to 19 percent as of today, and the remaining 300 million shares will be sold back to GM within 12 to 15 months, the Treasury said.
GM had wanted to buy back the 200 million shares in September, but the Treasury balked, citing a lower $24.14 share price. Many industry watchers saw the move as an attempt to protect President Barack Obama's re-election campaign, which would have had to explain billions in bailout losses just weeks before the Nov. 4 election. The share price in today's transaction was $27.50, below the $33 initial public offering price in November 2010 and about half the estimated $53 price the Treasury needed to break even on its purchase.
The government has conceded that it will never recover the full $49.5 billion from GM. With the sale of remaining shares at current prices, the government could stand to lose more than $12 billion. It has already lost $1.3 billion from the Chrysler bailout, despite the automaker's early full loan repayments.
With today's sale, the Treasury agreed to waive certain restrictions on GM, such as the purchase of private jets and specific levels of U.S.-based manufacturing. The caps on executive pay remain.
The government still owns 74 percent of Ally, GM's consumer lending arm -- formerly known as GMAC -- but has recovered about $5.9 billion.
[Source: GM, Treasury]
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