- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 5, 2006

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors Corp. said yesterday its board of directors will meet by telephone tomorrow, a week after dissident shareholder Kirk Kerkorian disclosed his efforts to link the company with foreign competitors Renault and Nissan.

GM spokeswoman Toni Simonetti said the meeting was scheduled before Mr. Kerkorian proposed the three-way alliance, but she would not disclose what was on the agenda.

The board met by teleconference last week to discuss Mr. Kerkorian’s proposal, and the company issued a statement that members would take the plan under advisement.

Normally the board meets the first week of every month, but recently has been talking more frequently, Ms. Simonetti said.

“In addition to its regularly scheduled meetings, the board recently has been convening a little more regularly by teleconference to just stay up to date on the progress of the turnaround strategy and such,” Ms. Simonetti said.

The possibility of a three-way global auto partnership emerged last week after Mr. Kerkorian, who owns 9.9 percent of GM, said he had approached Carlos Ghosn, the chief executive officer of both Renault SA of France and Nissan Motor Co. of Japan, about considering adding GM to the Renault-Nissan alliance.

Mr. Kerkorian’s investment company, Tracinda Corp., told GM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner in a letter that Renault and Nissan are receptive to the idea of including GM in their partnership and purchasing “a significant minority interest” in the automaker.

GM, the nation’s largest automaker, lost $10.6 billion last year, but made a $445 million profit in the first quarter of 2006.

Ms. Simonetti said GM has made great strides in recent months, with expense savings from 35,000 hourly workers taking early retirements and buyouts, an agreement on health care cost concessions with the United Auto Workers and freezes in health care and pension benefits for salaried workers and executives.

The company also has new models coming out that should boost sales in the second half of the year, she said.

“I think Rick Wagoner had formulated a turnaround strategy, and we in the past year have successfully implemented a significant share of that turnaround plan,” Ms. Simonetti said.

GM shares rose 1 cent to close at $29.42 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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