General Motors set for record share sale

Image caption,
The GM workers' health insurance fund will sell much of its 20% stake in the company via the IPO

Surprisingly strong orders have allowed General Motors (GM) up the size and the price of its initial public offering of shares on the New York Stock Exchange.

It means GM may now choose to issue up to $22.7bn (£14.3bn) of shares - the biggest in the US market's history.

The share sale will let the US government reduce its current 61% stake in the company to as low as 33%.

GM's return to the stock exchange follows its recent bankruptcy, delisting and $50bn government rescue.


The car manufacturer said it had increased the number of common shares to be issued by 31%, following a similar increase yesterday of the number of preferred shares.

It also revised pricing of the common shares sale up to $32-$33 each from a previous $26-$29 range.

The decisions come after the banks arranging the share sale said they had received $70bn of bids, and had closed their books to new orders.

An "over-allotment" provision in the IPO terms means that GM can issue up to $18bn of common shares as well as $4.6bn preferred shares - which pay a fixed dividend and do not have voting rights.

If the IPO goes ahead at the higher $33 indicated share price, it would value the company at about $63bn, just shy of the $66bn valuation that would represent a zero loss to the US Treasury on its rescue takeover of the company.

Promising signs

Other major GM shareholders who will reduce their ownership of the company through the stock market flotation include Canada (which currently owns 12%) and the United Auto Workers' union retiree health care trust (20%).

The news was welcomed by rival carmaker Chrysler.

"This will give us a great, great precursor for the Chrysler IPO," said Sergio Marchionne, the Fiat executive who was parachuted in to run Chrysler, another major US carmaker that went bust last year. "I'm delighted. It couldn't have gone better."

The strong showing follows GM's return to profit during the current year for the first time since 2004. The company made $5bn during the first nine months of this year.

Investors in the company are expected to include several Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds courted by GM executives during the marketing period.

Another buyer may be GM's Chinese state-owned partner, SAIC Motor Corp, although it is unclear whether Beijing has given the company permission to participate.

The shares will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday, following a 17-month absence.

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