Treasury Selling More GM Stock, Cadillac Plans China Plant

The U.S. Treasury announced plans to sell more of its remaining stock in General Motors, as the government seeks to divest itself of shares purchased during the auto industry bailout of 2009.

In today’s announcement, the Treasury says it will publicly sell the 241.7 million shares it still holds in GM. That comes after earlier reports that the Treasury divested about $490 million in GM stock, or as many as 18.1 million shares, in January and February. With the remaining 241.7 million shares on the market, the government could fully divest itself of GM ownership by the end of this year.

As of writing, the value of GM shares hovered around $31.65 — close to the $33-per-share cost during the company’s initial public offering in fall 2010. Still, selling at these prices means the Treasury will probably lose some amount of money on its bailout of GM.

The Treasury purchased 500 million GM shares in 2009 to help rescue the company, but the bailout resulted in the unfortunate label “Government Motors” being applied to criticize federal involvement in the car company. Both GM and the government wanted to shed that label as quickly as possible. In December 2012, GM bought back 200 million of those shares, and the Treasury announced it had a plan to sell off the remaining 300 million shares by March 2014 at the latest.

“Emergency support to GM during the financial crisis was necessary to prevent the collapse of the American auto industry,” Treasury assistant secretary Tim Massad said in a statement released today. “We are pleased with the progress to date and will continue exiting this investment in accordance with our previously announced plan and timetable.”

Elsewhere, GM division Cadillac received approval to build a $1.3 billion assembly plant in China. Bloomberg reports that the facility in Shanghai will be able to build about 150,000 cars annually, with production of the new factory starting this June. Building cars domestically will help Cadillac avoid the 25-percent tax slapped on cars imported to China. That could help Cadillac expand its sales there. Last year, Cadillac sales in China hit an all-time record of 30,010 cars, but that pales behind sales of other Western luxury brands. Audi reportedly sold 405,838 cars there in 2012, BMW sold 327,341, and Mercedes-Benz sold 192,211.

Sources: Reuters, Bloomberg, U.S. Department of the Treasury

By Jake Holmes