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Will Obama Sell GM Stake Now That Election Is Over?
Published: Monday, November 12, 2012
GM CEO Daniel Akerson earlier this year made an overture to the U.S. Treasury to allow GM to finance a big stock buyback to get the government out of GM, but the administration rejcted the offer. GM says that the government ownership hurts the automaker's image, and that the restrictions on executive salaries, bonuses and use of private aircraft has caused GM to lose out on some high-level executive talent.
The amount that tax-payers would lose on the Treasury selling GM shares varies on the company's stick price. Last Friday, November 9, GM shares closed at 25.04 on The New York Stock Exchange. The feds would have to sell GM shares at an average price of of $53 in order to break even.
"We believe that the U.S. Treasury is likely to begin selling down its stake in GM shortly after the election," says Barclays auto industry analyst Brian Johnson. "We believe that the Treasury is likely to announce a gradual sell-down plan, similar to what it has done for its stake in [giant insurance concern] AIG."
The Treasury has said it's balancing the desire to sell its GM shares with the need to recoup more cash from the tax-payer's investment. GM shares are down more 24% from GM's $33 initial public offering price in November 2010.
Former GM chairman and CEO Edward Whittaker Jr., whom the Obama administration installed to run the automaker in 2009, has been vocal about in his opinion that the government should sell.
A GM shareholder and Motley Fool contributor, John Rosevear, has written an open letter to President Obama making a case for the government selling off its stake now. The letter was published in AOL's Daily Finance website. Read the whole letter here.
One thing is for certain: President Obama doesn't have to worry about the poor optics of selling GM shares at a big loss in terms of running for re-election. But if vice president Joe Biden runs to succeed him, the loss on the rescue package could dog the vice president as he barnstorms for votes.
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