Friday, July 10, 2009

General Motors emerges from bankruptcy after crash diet

The rich elite in the United States must be different from ordinary folks. How else to explain the behind-the-scenes maneuvering that brought the largest U.S. automaker, General Motors, out of bankruptcy in a lightning-quick six weeks and lighter by tens of billions of dollars in debt. With the completion of the sale of assets Friday to a company set up solely to liquidate them under bankruptcy court supervision, GM returns to the competitive world of automobile designing, building, servicing and selling -- largely under the same management that led the company's decline, according to Cable News Network (CNN). Of course, there'll be some major differences -- GM is now more than 60 percent owned by the U.S. Treasury. In addition, by the end of next year, the new GM will also be lighter by tens of thousands of jobs and thousands of dealerships across the country. "This is an exciting day for General Motors, one that will allow every employee, including me, to get back to the business of designing, building and selling great cars and trucks and serving the needs of our customers," GM Chief Executive Fritz Henderson said, CNN reported. "We deeply appreciate the support we've received. We'll work hard to repay the trust, and the money, that so many have invested in GM." But Henderson, who took over the top spot at GM after the Obama administration forced out then-CEO Rick Wagoner as a condition of loaning the automaker as much as $50 billion, faces a daunting challenge. GM lost most of its market share, now 20 percent of the U.S. market, in the last few decades, was overtaken by Toyota Motor Co. of Japan as the world's largest automaker, and even lost its standing as a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. GM also will be losing its Saturn, Saab and Hummer brands, and previously decided to drop Pontiac. Henderson even said that he didn't know if GM would be able to repay the billions it borrowed from the treasury, according to CNN, but probably wouldn't have to borrow more next year. "This is a precious second chance," he said. "There are no third chances." Even if there were, who could afford them? GM has lost $88 billion since 2005 while its debt rose to $54 billion, CNN said. Bondholders who loaned money to GM before the bankruptcy will end up with around 10 percent of the new company, CNN said, but shares will not traded until next year at the earliest.

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