- Sen. Rand Paul: ‘I am seriously thinking about’ running for president in 2016
- Sleet, ice, deepfreeze hit large swath of U.S.
- ‘Welcome to the edge of freedom’: Biden’s boots touch down in DMZ
- Obama: Hole U.S. ‘digging out of’ requires billions more in unemployment benefits
- Obama’s regulatory agenda will cost U.S. economy $143B next year: report
- Patriot Act author on James Clapper: Fire, prosecute him
- Russia P.M. Medvedev: No amnesty for political prisoners
- Michigan GOP Senate hopeful reminds government is the ‘servant’
- Christmas, by Congress: Members mull a 15-cent tax on trees
- U.S. unemployment falls to five-year low of 7 percent; 203K jobs added
GM secures $11B in new credit lines
DETROIT — General Motors is boosting its cash with $11 billion in new credit lines, a move that could mean the automaker is preparing to buy back its shares from the federal government dating back to the 2009 bailout.
The company said Monday it acquired the credit from 35 financial institutions in 14 countries. It now has more than $42 billion in available cash and credit.
GM officials wouldn't say specifically what they plan to do with the money, only that it's a source of "backup liquidity" that may be used for "strategic initiatives." But industry analysts said GM could be hoarding the cash to buy back stock, specifically from the U.S. government. The U.S. Treasury Department owns 26.5 percent of General Motors Co. It received the stake in exchange for a $49.5 billion bailout about four years ago.
In a note to investors, Barclays analyst Brian Johnson suggested GM should use the bulk of its cash to gradually buy back its shares.
"We, and other investors, would view a share-buyback as the best use of cash in the near-term," he wrote.
Analysts said GM could also use the cash to pay for a restructuring of GM's troubled European operations, buy Ally Financial's European auto-finance division or further fund its pension plans. Government-controlled Ally is GM's former financing arm.
Two of the three New York debt-rating agencies, Moody Investors Service and Standard & Poor's, quickly gave the GM credit lines an investment-grade rating on Monday.
But that doesn't mean GM's overall corporate credit rating changed from junk status. S&P's corporate rating on GM remains at "BB+," the highest junk rating. Moody's kept the corporate rating at "Ba1," also one notch below investment grade. Moody's has given GM a positive outlook and said it remains on track to return to investment grade within the next year.
GM's new lines of credit include a three-year $5.5 billion facility and a five-year $5.5 billion line. They replace GM's existing $5 billion credit line, which was set to expire in 2015. GM also has $31.6 billion in cash and securities.
Chief Financial Officer Dan Ammann said the lines are a vote of confidence in the company's financial strength.
The automaker, known derisively as "Government Motors" for taking bailout money to avoid going under in 2008 and 2009, has long wanted the government to sell its stake and exit the business. But the government, which still owns 500 million GM shares, is waiting for the stock price to rise before making a move. The government is $27 billion in the hole on its investment, and to break even, GM shares would have to sell for $53.
At this point, they're not even close. Shares fell 22 cents to close at $25.57 Monday.
It would cost GM nearly $12.8 billion to buy back all of the government's shares at the current price.
Last week, GM announced a $1.48 billion third-quarter profit on strong North American earnings, big improvements in South America and strong earnings in international areas outside of China.
- Obama: Hole U.S. 'digging out of' requires billions more in unemployment benefits
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- PRUDEN: British press horrified as London's new mayor dares to proclaim the truth
- Activists urge Obama to go rogue, sidestep Congress
- Obama tries to calm Israeli fears over Iranian nuke deal 'not based on trust'
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality
- Obamas call to close Vatican embassy is 'slap in the face' to Roman Catholics
- Craigslist killers: Police say newlyweds stabbed man for thrills
- Dick Cheney: Family feud over gay marriage has been 'dealt with'
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Get in the middle of all the action inside and outside the boxing ring.
The cold hard truth about politics in America today and the state of this once great nation.
White House pets gone wild!