Treasury Cuts Stake in GM to 7.3%

General Motors ceo dan akerson
Pat Sullivan/APGeneral Motors CEO Dan Akerson

By Ben Klayman

The U.S. Treasury has sold another block of shares in General Motors, reducing its stake to 7.3 percent as it moves toward exiting its holdings in the automaker by the end of March.

The Treasury sold more than 110 million shares from May 6 to Sept. 13, raising more than $3.82 billion, according to documents posted online Tuesday. The Treasury confirmed its stake in the No. 1 U.S. automaker now stands at 101 million shares.

The U.S. government, which originally took a 60.8 percent stake in GM as part of its $49.5 billion bailout of the company in 2009, said it will have recovered about $39.2 billion of its investment after the sales proceeds come in. When it outlined its exit plan in December 2012, Treasury said it would sell all its GM shares in 12 to 15 months.

GM (GM) shares closed Tuesday at $36.71 on the New York Stock Exchange, so Treasury's remaining stake is worth about $3.7 billion. At that price, Treasury would end up losing about $6.6 billion on the bailout of GM.

Treasury officials have said the government will lose $15 billion on the $85 billion auto industry bailout that included Chrysler, but the intention was to save jobs not make a profit.

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The U.S. taxpayer bailout led some critics to call the company "Government Motors" and executives said the stigma hurt sales some. GM chief executive Dan Akerson has said the exit of Treasury would bring closure to the bailout and remove the perception of government ownership among customers.

Analysts have speculated that once Treasury has fully exited its GM stake, the automaker may consider reinstating a dividend on common shares, something it hasn't paid since May 2008. GM executives have said they will focus on reinvesting in company operations.

Last week, the Canadian and Ontario governments said they would sell nearly a quarter of their common shares in GM as part of a longer term plan to exit stock acquired in the bailout. After raising $1.1 billion in that sale, the governments still hold more than 110 million shares.