LANSING, Mich. – General Motors, preparing for an initial public offering, is showing a different spirit than the failed behemoth that preceded it: Investing in small cars, planning to hire workers and paying obligations early.
GM said Thursday its investing in a Michigan factory to make a small Cadillac and hire 600 workers. Hours later, it said it paid $2.8 billion to its union retiree health care trust and obtained $5 billion in credit that it might not need. After the IPO, the Detroit automaker said it will buy back preferred shares from the U.S. and put $6 billion in its pension plans.
The rapid-fire moves show how GM will operate under new CEO Dan Akerson after the nations largest automaker purged much of its debt and lowered its fixed costs by restructuring in bankruptcy.
What happened over the past 12 months was ordained by the courts, said Maryann Keller, an auto industry consultant with a self-named firm in Stamford, Conn. The measure of how good a company GM is starts now. They have to show that they can operate this business by cleaning the balance sheet and investing in the business.
Setting up the credit line, planning to pay debt and managing pension obligations all were either expected or prudent financial management that will help the company as it goes public, Keller said.
GM has filed its registration statement for the offering with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The U.S. shares will begin trading by Nov. 19, people familiar with the matter have said.
GM will purchase the Treasurys 83,898,305 Series A preferred shares at $25.50 apiece on the first dividend payment date scheduled to occur after the IPO, the department said.
With the repurchase, taxpayers will have received $9.5 billion in repayments, interest and dividends from GM since the automaker emerged from bankruptcy in July 2009, the Treasury said. The department said its total funds invested in GM include $13.4 billion under the Bush administration and $36.1 billion under the Obama administration.
The Treasury said the repurchase of the preferred shares wont change its stake in GMs common stock. After the IPO, the Treasury may hold less than a 50 percent stake in GMs common equity. The company and the U.S. aim to hold an IPO of $8 billion to $10 billion, two people familiar with the plan said last month.
The company will keep pushing out new models and investing in factories as it works to improve its balance sheet. Since bankruptcy, GM has put more than $3 billion into its plants, Akerson said last week at a press event at a Cadillac plant in Lansing. . The plant will build a small Cadillac nicknamed the ATS to compete with BMWs 3-Series line.
GM also is introducing the small Chevrolet Cruze and the Chevrolet Volt, which runs on gasoline and electricity.
GM is reviving its marketing efforts to sell the new products. Chevrolet will advertise during the Super Bowl, and Cadillac is considering marketing during television events like the Golden Globe awards. GM has also advertised during the MTV Video Music Awards and Country Music Awards.