New GM may be launched by end of July

<div>A SENIOR figure in President Obama&rsquo;s automotive task force said last night that GM could be relaunched as a new company by the end of the month.<br /><br />Steve Rattner said a judge&rsquo;s ruling that GM can sell its assets to a government-backed company would clear the way for the firm to emerge from bankruptcy and float on the markets as early as 2010.<br /><br />The judge said the only alternative would have been liquidation, which would not have suited creditors.<br /><br />GM can now press ahead with its plans to restructure, which will begin with the transfer of healthy assets such as well-known car brands Cadillac, Buick and Chevrolet to a company owned by the US Treasury.<br /><br />In a deal designed to haul GM out of bankruptcy, the US government will then loan the firm more than $50bn (&pound;31bn) in return for a 61 per cent stake.<br /><br />The Canadian government, which has also provided assistance, will take about 12 per cent in the new firm, the retirees healthcare trust of the United Auto Workers union will get 17.5 per cent, while bondholders and other creditors will get 10 per cent.<br /><br />President Obama&rsquo;s administration hopes to float the company in 2010, returning it to the private sector.<br /><br />However, the ruling still faces the possibility of appeal by bondholders and product-liability claimants angered that the new company will not be held responsible for lawsuits filed by victims of car accidents before the bankruptcy.<br /><br />The judge said he had considered the interests of such claimants, but had been bound by precedents such as the sale of Chrysler to Fiat, which was completed without such liabilities being honoured.<br /><br />If successful, the turnaround will be a major coup for Obama, who had initially predicted a three-month period for the carmaker to be rescued.<br /><br />Meanwhile, Beijing Automotive Industry Corporation, which submitted a last minute bid for GM&rsquo;s European operations last week, is planning to spend $2bn on a Chinese Opel plant while slashing jobs in Europe.</div>