The U.S. government would have to sell its General Motors stock for $133.78 per share to recoup the nearly $50 billion it spent bailing out the Detroit automaker, according to a watchdog of government bailout funds.
Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the $700 billion bailout of the financial industry and automakers, revealed the figure in an Aug. 30 letter to Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa. The letter was obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday.
GM repaid the government $6.7 billion. The remaining money was converted to a 61 percent ownership stake in GM plus $2.1 billion worth of preferred stock. The government plans to start selling its shares as part of a GM initial public stock offering that is tentatively scheduled for mid-November.
The government won't sell all the 304 million common shares it owns all at once. The Treasury Department and GM's new CEO have said it may take a couple of years and several "follow-on" sales for the government to recoup its investment. Also, analysts say the share price could start out low to help fuel demand. The hope is that GM's share price would rise as the company's car sales and finances improve.
Barofsky responded to a request from Grassley to make sure that Treasury is getting the highest possible price for GM's shares. Barofsky says that he will look into the matter.
The $133.78 figure does not cover any legal and investment banking fees for the IPO, nor does it include the government's preferred shares, Barofsky wrote.
To reach Barofsky's per-share number, GM shares would have to sell for $40 above the automaker's peak stock price, which was nearly $93 in April of 2000, according to the Center for Research in Security Prices at the University of Chicago. That year was a good one for GM. It made $4.45 billion mainly by selling high-profit pickups and sport utility vehicles.
Barofsky also wrote that he would look into the banking and legal fees for the GM stock sale, as well as GM's purchase in July of AmeriCredit Inc., a company that specializes in car loans to people with poor credit.
GM itself does not plan to sell any common shares as part of the IPO, but will sell preferred shares, it said in paperwork filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. It will use that money to pay off debt and to invest in the company.
Preferred shares behave more like bonds than stock because they pay a set dividend.