DETROIT — It will take a couple of years for taxpayers to get back the billions they spent bailing out General Motors, but the company has a goal of returning the money, GM's new CEO said last week.
CEO Daniel Akerson told reporters that the government won't be repaid with the company's initial public stock offering, which could happen later this year, but couldn't answer more specific questions about the sale.
Akerson said the $50 billion government bailout of GM saved a lot of jobs and helped to preserve the country's manufacturing base. But the bailout has bred resentment with some car buyers and hurt GM's sales. The automaker hopes the stock sale will end its government ownership and raise money for investment and to reduce debt.
GM has repaid $6.7 billion of the money the government put up to save the company and get it through bankruptcy protection last year, and the remaining $43 billion was converted to a 61 percent ownership stake. GM has filed paperwork starting the process to sell stock to the public, and a sale could come as early as mid-November.
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Akerson, GM's fourth CEO in less than two years, also indicated that management will be stable in the future, saying he doesn't expect to make any changes.
The man he replaced on Sept. 1, former CEO Ed Whitacre, said in August that he expected the stock to be sold all at once, but Akerson said that was unrealistic. Although he said no investor has "infinite patience," he indicated that it would take consistent earnings from GM and several stock sales before the money is returned.
"I don't think that's going to be in one fell swoop," he said. "So we have to post those numbers and provide some consistent results. During the next couple of years that will happen," he said.
GM made $2.2 billion in the first half of the year, a strong sign to investors that it is much healthier than it was before bankruptcy.
The company will not sell any shares of common stock, leaving that to the government and its three other shareholders. But it plans to sell preferred stock, which pays a dividend and will be converted to common shares in 2013.
Also last week, Chrysler and Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne said he expects Chrysler's IPO to take place in the second half of next year. Chrysler got $12.5 billion in bailout money from the government in exchange for $7.1 billion in loans and a 9.9 percent ownership stake.
Akerson, who replaces Whitacre as board chairman at the end of the year, also said he hopes GM will be able to create more jobs in the future.