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U.S. Will Sell Off Its General Motors Stock

General Motors is buying back stock from the U.S. government.
Paul Sancya
General Motors is buying back stock from the U.S. government.

In a statement early this morning, the Treasury Department says it's going to "exit" its investment in General Motors. The federal government holds just over 500 million shares of GM stock.

The automaker will buy 200 million of those shares, and the government will dispose of the rest "in an orderly fashion" over the next year and a half, depending on market conditions.

General Motors sounds relieved. In a statement, CEO Dan Akerson says this ends the idea among customers that the government owns GM. But he is thankful for the bailout: "We come to work every day grateful that taxpayers from the US and Canada stepped forward to rescue our industry, and determined to show this extraordinary help was worth it."

Each of the 200 million shares will cost GM $27.50, or about $5.5 million dollars in all. The remaining 300.1 million shares will be sold off by the federal government within 12 to 15 months, but the amount, method and time of the sales will depend on several factors the government doesn't discuss in its statement. Neither is the expected sale price.

Treasury says it invested just under $50 billion dollars in GM to "stabilize" the automaker in 2008 and 2009, starting during the Bush Administration, and expanding during the Obama Administration. GM wasn't the the only bailout beneficiary - so did Chrysler, and financial institutions Citigroup and AIG.Here's the Treasury Department's link to its most recent update on the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Last week, the agency says it sold off its last common stock shares of AIG.

As for jobs, the government believes the TARP program saved 1 million of them in the auto industry. GM says since the rescue, it's "created or retained" more than 20,000 jobs.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Korva Coleman is a newscaster for NPR.