General Motors Renaissance Center, Detroit, Michigan
Last week, Ed Whitacre said that he was unsure about the timeline for General Motors' initial public offering. Analysts have been expecting GM to return to the stock markets this fall, but there's been a sizable obstacle standing in the automaker's way: finding a $5 billion line of credit, which GM needs for cash flow purposes. Now, it appears that the credit line has been secured, and rumor has it that GM could file its IPO paperwork by tomorrow.
The line of credit has been pieced together from ten banks, including big-hitters like Bank of America and Morgan Stanley -- two corporations that have shared GM's pain of bankruptcy and bailout. More may join the ranks, since the line of credit is a potential cash cow for lenders.
But today's news isn't just important for GM, it's also a major development for politicians. GM and the Obama administration both took a lot of heat for last year's controversial bailout, and the nickname "Government Motors" still hangs around GM's neck. Filing for an IPO now means that GM's return to the stock exchange could happen before November's mid-term elections. That would be a boon for Democrats, who could point to the IPO as evidence that the bailout was successful and that taxpayers will eventually recoup their loan from GM.
But even if the IPO runs on schedule, Republicans will probably still be able to point to government ownership of GM, which currently hovers at 61%. GM wants the Treasury Department to sell off about $10 billion of its $43 billion stake in the company as soon as the IPO launches, which would bring the government's position below the 50% mark. However, the Treasury isn't completely onboard with that plan; they're afraid -- as they should be -- that selling off that much equity at once would dilute the value of the company and the government's remaining shares. And right now, "diluting" is the last thing that probably needs to happen for GM.
That said, demand could be high for GM stock when it does relaunch -- not least because of the company's earnings, which are rumored to ring in above the $1 billion mark for the second quarter. We'll have more about that later, but in the meantime, check John Voelcker's post about Ed Whitacre's sudden retirement.