NEW YORK (AP) -- General Motors stock began trading on Wall Street again Thursday, signaling the rebirth of an American corporate icon that collapsed into bankruptcy and was rescued with a $50 billion infusion from taxpayers.
The stock rose sharply in its first minutes of buying and selling, going for nearly $36 per share -- nearly $3 more than the price GM set for the initial public offering. The stock traded for less than a dollar when the company filed for bankruptcy last year.
On the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, a crowd eight deep jostled around the company's trading post, adorned with its familiar blue-square logo with an underlined "GM." CEO Dan Akerson rang the opening bell as raucous cheers went up and the sound of a Chevrolet Camaro's revving engine echoed through the room.
The government hopes that the stock offering will be the first step toward ultimately breaking even on the bailout. For that to happen, the government needs to sell its remaining GM holdings for an average of roughly $50 a share over the next several years.
In the initial offering, the government reduces its ownership stake from 61 percent to 33 percent. The federal Treasury is unloading more than 400 million shares of the resurrected GM, which is smaller -- but cleansed of most of its debt. The company is making money.
"There's a lot of work to do, but today is the beginning of the new company," said Mark Reuss, GM's North American president.
The IPO could wind up as the largest in history. GM raised the initial price to $33 and increased the number of shares it was offering because investor demand was so high. Counting preferred stock issued by the company, the deal's value could top $23 billion.