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THE BONDHOLDERS: James Graves

- The Washington Times - Monday, June 15, 2009

James Graves
Family: Wife, two children and two grandchildren
Date of purchase: N/A
Percent of portfolio that were GM bonds at purchase: 33 percent
Percent of portfolio now: Negligible
Reason for purchase: "It was a trustworthy company."
Reason for holding after downgraded to junk status in 2005: Thought GM was reliable
Original investment goal: Early retirement

Jim Graves was one of the many GM bondholders listening to a conference call in May about the impending bankruptcy. He was also one of many participants who ended the call in confusion.

"We're supposed to write an e-mail to some anonymous address, saying we support the offer. It just felt like we were being strong-armed," Mr. Graves said.

Mr. Graves said he would survive the GM downfall, but he's upset by the way the situation was being handled.

"I'm glad the government stepped in," he said. "I wish they could keep them out of bankruptcy, because Americans need those jobs. I just wish they would be fair about it."

The sudden loss and confusing statements also are troubling Mr. Graves' mother, Vivian Floyd, 80.

"She's a wreck. She's a person who puts a smiley face on everything, and she can't put a smiley face on this one," Mr. Graves said.

His mother invested $100,000 in GM in 2003 to provide for her retirement. Mr. Graves said her income will fall by a third.

"She'll be OK, but she may have to give up her home and visit her grandchildren less," Mr. Graves said.

Mr. Graves said he and his mother hoped that they would see a return in profits by holding on to their bonds, even as GM was falling.

"I don't think any of the bondholders ever thought GM would collapse," he said.

He said his mother is "looking for me to tell her what to do. I'm pretty smart, but I can't tell her what anything means with this."

Click here to view vignettes of seven other GM bondholders.