11 Jul 2009

General Motors out of bankruptcy

7:45 am on 11 July 2009

General Motors is out of bankruptcy protection after creating a "new" GM comprising the company's best assets.

Closing documents were signed early Friday by representatives of the government and GM executives at the law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, GM's bankruptcy counsel.

The company is 61% owned by the United States government, in return for

$US60 billion in financing.

The United Auto Workers union will have 17.5%. The government of Canada will have a 12% share and GM bondholders will own about 10% in the new company.

GM filed for bankruptcy on 1 June. The restructuring process took 40 days and followed a similar fast-track reorganization of Chrysler.

Chief executive Fritz Henderson says it's the beginning of a new era.

The "new" GM will own four key brands: Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC brands. Others such as Hummer and Saab are being sold.

Mr Henderson says negotiations are continuing to conclude a deal to sell GM Europe, which includes Opel and Vauxhall.

He says the new company will be profitable and will repay its loans as soon as possible.

GM lost its title as the world's largest vehicle-maker in January. Toyota sold 8.97 million vehicles in 2008, while GM's global sales dropped to 8.35 million vehicles.

The BBC reports the "new" GM will operate with 27,000 fewer employees and 13 fewer car plants in the United States compared with last year.

Its logo will remain the same: blue with white GM letters underlined.

General Motors marked its 100th anniversary in September 2008.