General Motors, buffeted by a U.S. sales collapse and three years of losses, will suspend its dividend for the first time since 1922, cut...
General Motors, buffeted by a U.S. sales collapse and three years of losses, will suspend its dividend for the first time since 1922, cut the management payroll by 20 percent and sell assets to raise at least $15 billion in the next 18 months.
Eliminating the 25-cent quarterly dividend and an unspecified number of salaried jobs will help save $10 billion a year, the biggest U.S. automaker said Tuesday. GM plans to generate $4 billion to $7 billion by selling as yet unidentified assets, borrowing from banks and paring benefits to retirees.
The spending reductions accelerate Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner’s efforts to conserve cash and avert bankruptcy as a slowing economy and record gasoline prices push U.S. industry sales to a 15-year low.
“At first blush, these would be positive steps for liquidity, but we would view them as absolute necessities given the current market conditions,” said Gregg Lemos Stein, a credit analyst at Standard & Poor’s in New York.
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GM said it is trying to raise $2 billion to $4 billion in additional liquidity with asset sales and $2 billion to $3 billion of new financing secured by assets such as foreign subsidiaries, brands and its remaining stake in GMAC, its financing arm.
Among the assets GM may consider selling are its OnStar communication-system division or the GM Asset Management investment company, Citigroup analyst Itay Michaeli said in a research note Tuesday. The company didn’t identify what assets might be sold.
GM gained 46 cents, or 4.9 percent, to $9.84 Tuesday. Its U.S. sales are heading for their ninth straight annual fall after a 16 percent plunge through June. The overall auto-sales market was down 10 percent.
Tuesday, GM said it will have a “significant” second-quarter loss because of weak U.S. auto sales and a strike at two of its own factories as well as parts-supplier American Axle.
GM may also cut thousands of additional factory jobs as it further trims production capacity, and will cut health care for U.S. salaried employees older than 65 as of Jan. 1, with offsetting increases to pensions. Cash bonuses for executives will be eliminated. The automaker will also delay $1.7 billion in payments to the union retiree health-care fund, Wagoner said.
GM, turning 100 this year, reported its largest annual loss in 2007, $38.7 billion, after a tax-accounting change, and hasn’t posted a profit since 2004.