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“There’s a lot of work to do, but today is the beginning of the new company,” said Mark Reuss, GM’s North American president.

The reduced government stake should help repair the company’s image, which had been tarnished by accepting the bailout money, Mr. Akerson told reporters.

“They have taken their ownership down by roughly half,” he said. “I would say that the average taxpayer in the United States would look at this particular transaction as very positive.”