GM CEO Whitacre Puts a Damper on IPO Speculation


General Motors' anticipated initial public offering remained up in the air Thursday, according to the Wall Street Journal. "We're not there yet," CEO Ed Whitacre told a reporter at an industry conference in Traverse City, Mich. "I don't know when, I don't know how," he said.

Speculation has run rampant in recent weeks that GM would file papers to begin an initial public offering this month, giving the company ample time to complete the stock sale by the fall midterm elections.

The company and the Obama administration have come under fire from critics who say GM -- as well as Chrysler -- shouldn't have been bailed out by the federal government last year, following the near-collapse of financial markets in late 2008. Offloading the government's share -- and minimizing any loss from the sale -- could help Democrats in their bids for reelection.

In April, GM completed payment of nearly $7 billion dollars in cash that it received from Treasury. GM still owes the government about $43 billion, which could be repaid by the sale of GM stock. The federal government owns about 60% of GM, leading some to deridingly refer to the company as "government motors."

Whitacre also said Thursday that the Detroit-based automaker would discuss CEO succession "at the right time." Whitacre took over the top post at GM on a temporary basis when former CEO Fritz Henderson was ousted late last year. Whitacre, the 68-year-old former chief of AT&T (T), was appointed permanent CEO in January.

Given his age, however, there has been speculation that Whitacre isn't long for the position, and that a search for new chief executive may begin sooner rather than later.