General Motors announced on December 19 that it will purchase 200 million shares of GM common stock held by the U.S. Department of the Treasury for $5.5 billion, or $27.50 per share. The share buyback is part of the Treasury’s plan to fully exit its entire holdings of GM stock within 12 to 15 months, subject to market conditions.
Dan Akerson, chairman and CEO of GM, called the announcement is an important step in bringing closure to the successful auto industry rescue, adding that it further removes the "perception of government ownership of GM among customers."
Dan Ammann, senior vice president and CFO, said GM’s balance sheet will remain very strong, with estimated liquidity of approximately $38 billion at the end of 2012, following the closing of the share buyback.
The repurchase price of $27.50 per share represents a 7.9 percent premium over the closing price on December 18, 2012. The share buyback is expected to close by the end of the year. This transaction will be accretive to earnings per share, as GM’s total shares outstanding on a fully diluted basis will be reduced by approximately 11 percent. In association with this share buyback, GM expects to take a charge of approximately $400 million in the fourth quarter, which will be treated as a special item.
Treasury has announced its intention to sell its remaining shares of common stock into the market through various means and in an orderly fashion. Treasury intends to begin its disposition of its remaining shares as soon as January 2013, consistent with a pre-arranged written trading plan. In addition, Treasury has agreed to relinquish certain governance rights that were included in the U.S. Treasury Secured Credit Agreement with GM.
After the repurchase, Treasury will continue to own approximately 300 million shares of GM common stock, or approximately 19 percent of the outstanding shares on a fully diluted basis. Government ownership of GM stock was the result of the auto industry rescue that began under President George W. Bush in 2008 and which was expanded by President Barack Obama in 2009. Since the rescue, GM has announced investments of more than $7.3 billion in the U.S. and created or retained more than 20,000 jobs.
ANALYSTS' PERSPECTIVE: A New York Times article takes the position that the buyback deal all but guarantees a loss of approximately $12 billion for U.S. taxpayers.
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