U.S. Sells More GM Stock

GM towerThe U.S. Treasury said it sold $570.1 million in General Motors Co. stock in September, as it looks to complete its exit from the Detroit automaker in the coming six months.

The Treasury says it has now recouped $36 billion of its $49.5 billion bailout of the Detroit automaker. The government began selling off its remaining 101.3 million shares in GM on Sept. 26, as part of its third written trading plan. The government didn’t disclose precisely how many shares it sold in the final days of the month, but at recent trading levels could exit as early as January.

The taxpayers’ ownership stake in the Detroit-based automaker, once 60.8 percent, is now down to about 7 percent, the Treasury said.

“Treasury will continue to wind down the taxpayers’ investment in GM, a critical part of the administration’s response to the financial crisis that prevented the collapse of the American auto industry and saved more than 1 million American jobs,” said Tim Massad, Treasury Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability, in a statement. “The third trading plan will allow us to continue exiting the investment in accordance with our previously announced timetable while maximizing the taxpayer’s return.”

In December, GM repurchased 200 million shares of GM common stock from Treasury. At that time, Treasury also announced it intended to sell its remaining 300 million shares into the market and fully exit its GM investment within the next 12-15 months — no later than March 2014.

The government sold an average of 19 million shares a month in the early part of the year, but since May has sold more than 25 million a month — plus a one-time special sale of 30 million in June, worth more than $1 billion, to coincide with GM’s return to the S&P 500.

U.S. taxpayers acquired 912 million shares of GM in exchange for a $49.5 billion bailout that began in 2008 under President George W. Bush, and mushroomed the following year under his successor, President Barack Obama.

The Treasury estimates taxpayers will have lost $15 billion on their $85 billion auto industry bailout, which also included aid to bankrupt Chrysler. Auburn Hills-based Chrysler has repaid its debt.

Gene Sperling, the White House National Economic Council adviser, said recently the bailout “has turned out far better than anyone could have dreamed of — not only in terms of job creation and the economy and manufacturing, but in terms of those companies and their suppliers being poised to increase and take market share.”

Like the U.S. Treasury, the Canadian and Ontario provincial governments also bought GM stock to help keep the company afloat. The Canadians put up $10 billion toward a bailout, and acquired an 11.7 percent stake in GM. They sold 30 million shares in GM for $1.1 billion in September, and now hold about 110 million shares.

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