Co. likely will not repay the entirety of the government support it received to restructure until after the company goes public again, but President and CEO Fritz Henderson says the auto maker will start repaying U.S. taxpayers in December.
“If the business is reasonably good, we could find ourselves fully repaying (taxpayers) in June 2010,” Henderson tells journalists today during a conference call to discuss the reorganized company’s financial position.
GM targets June 2010 as a potential repayment date for the $6.7 billion in taxpayer loans it received earlier this year to prevent its collapse.
An agreement with the U.S. Treasury Dept. says, in short, if the auto maker’s cash position is solid enough it can give the money back early.
If GM were to repay in June, taxpayers would be reimbursed more than four years earlier than the loans’ present deadline. The auto maker says it has enough cash on hand to repay the entire $6.7 billion after shedding billions of dollars in debt through its bankruptcy earlier this year.
According to financial results released today – the first publicly released statement from the newly reorganized auto maker – GM currently has some $25 billion worth of global cash and marketable securities, excluding governmental loans.
“We felt this was the prudent balance of things to do – start repaying the loans,” Henderson says. “We just didn’t think it was the right thing to fully repay it today.”
GM officially is tracked for repayment of the government loans over a 2-year period, although that could also be affected by an initial public offering from the auto maker.
Henderson told Ward’s during an interview earlier this month GM is preparing itself to go public in second-half 2010 if circumstances, such as increased new-vehicle sales and an improvement in the general health of the U.S. economy, warrant the move.
An IPO also would repay the loans early, but with a total of about $50 billion in government aid outstanding, taxpayers will not become fully reimbursed unless Treasury can successfully cash out its 60.8% share in the auto maker.
The General Accounting Office, a government watchdog, recently speculated taxpayers would never get fully reimbursed.
Addressing the GAO report, Henderson says it is management’s job to “disprove” those findings by creating value in the company beyond the government’s expectations.
GM’s first installment payment to the U.S. government will be $1.2 billion. The auto maker additionally is accelerating repayment of its loans from the Canadian and German governments.
Henderson says the early repayment schedules are made possible due to better-than-expected financial momentum coming out of bankruptcy and the fact contingencies GM planned for did not occur.
Henderson also says during the call, in which GM reports a $1.2 billion loss for the period between when it exited bankruptcy on July 10 and Sept. 30, that a top executive to lead its Adam Opel GmbH unit will not be named anytime soon.
“This is a process of finding an excellent candidate,” he tells Ward’s. “This is a process measured in months and not weeks.”
GM temporarily has installed Nick Reilly, head of its international operations, to guide Opel and its U.K. sister Vauxhall through the start of restructuring.
Reilly replaces Carl-Peter Forster, who led Opel and GM Europe through most of this decade. He resigned earlier this month after GM decided to keep Opel rather than sell a majority stake of it to an investment consortium led by Canadian parts supplierInternational Inc.
Finding a permanent chief for Opel is seen as a paramount of importance. Not only must GM install an executive capable of turning around the loss-making unit and repairing severely damaged relations with Opel workers and the German government, the auto maker also needs Reilly to focus on the company’s sprawling international operations.
The international unit, which includes booming emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil, posted a $238 million profit in the year’s third quarter against a $651 million loss in North America. Europe also was unprofitable, Henderson reports.
Henderson repeatedly has lamented the fact that at the formerCorp. executives spent too much time putting out restructuring fires and too little time on product- and customer-related decisions. He blames that dilemma for GM’s U.S. market-share losses, which contributed to its downfall.
The auto maker is not commenting on specifics surrounding the executive search, including whether a placement firm has been engaged.
Financial results from GM today are considered “managerial” in nature, or for the basis of internal decision-making, and not under the generally accepted accounting principles that governs public companies and serves as investor information.
However, the snapshot does reveal $28 billion of revenue in the third quarter, which is up $4.9 billion from old GM sales in the second-quarter. The new company cites stabilizing global market share. And although GM lost $1.2 billion worth of managerial income during the third period, the results were better than most industry experts anticipated.
The old GM lost a total $30.9 billion in 2008, representing its second greatest annual loss behind 2007 in the former company’s 100-year history. Today marks the 83rd day of the new GM.