GM set to go ahead with a $20bn float

 
Steve Dinneen
Follow Steve
GENERAL?Motors (GM) is poised to press ahead with one of the biggest ever IPOs, raising an estimated $20bn (£12.8bn).

The momentous flotation of one of the most recognisable US firms will see the government begin to loosen its grip on the troubled carmaker.

The initial prospectus was filed yesterday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to people close to the deal.

A successful offering would be a major coup for the Obama administration, which owns a 61 per cent stake in the company after a controversial $50bn bailout last year.

The administration is now considering how to allow retail buyers access to the stock whilst still maximising return for taxpayers.

The firm is understood to favour a sale to major institutions who are prepared to commit to buy and hold major stakes. It hopes sovereign wealth funds or pension funds will serve as “cornerstone investors”.

However if a significant percentage of the stock is sold to overseas investors it is likely to prove unpopular for the government. A balance is expected to be struck whereby around 15 per cent of the float is earmarked for cornerstone investors.

Investment bankers have turned to such investors for recent deals in Asia, most notably the record $22bn IPO for the Agricultural Bank of China. Like that deal, the GM IPO represents a major privatisation of a government-owned company.

The group of banks that committed to be major creditors in GM’s $5bn credit line will serve as underwriters for the stock offering, according to sources close to the deal. They include Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, UBS and Royal Bank of Canada.

The IPO was delayed by several days after the shock announcement last week that interim chief executive Ed Whitacre would step down earlier than expected.

ED WHITACRE
OUTGOING GMB CHIEF EXECUTIVE

DAN Akerson will take control of the resurgent auto firm in September. The former boss at Nextel, will become GM’s fourth chief executive in just a year and a half. He was a GM board member and a managing director at private equity firm The Carlyle Group.

He takes over from Ed Whitacre who has served just eight months in the top job. His departure had been expected but the timing of the announcement last week was a surprise.

Whitacre, who continued to commute from his home in Texas during his stint as chief executive had said repeatedly that he would be an interim leader at GM. He was an auto industry outsider who had spent his career at telecoms provider AT&T.

Whitacre was drafted in on a board vetted by President Obama after Fritz Henderson was given his marching orders last November. Like his successor, Henderson lasted just eight months at the top of GM. He was a company veteran, having worked there since 1984, who had previously served as chief financial officer.

Before Henderson, Rick Wagoner was fired as chief executive at the request of Obama. He took the bullet as part of the restructuring following the government bailout.