Now out of bankruptcy, a leaner GM -- free of many of
assets (Hummer, Saab, Saturn) -- is cheered by news of improving
auto sales. States Chairman Whitacre, "It's conceivable we
could pay back some of the loans before the end of the year. We
have some momentum now; there's a lot of enthusiasm. We're all
cautiously optimistic. The board is fully behind Fritz; he's working
GM could seek to repay the government with a new
public stock offering. Those previously holding GM stock saw
their remaining holdings vanish with the bankruptcy.
of a GM stock offering would likely be high in the financial
community, despite emerging optimism on the markets. However,
GM's new look leadership is used to dealing with such doubts.
At an August 3 meeting of GM's board and the U.S. Treasury
Department, the Treasury officials reportedly estimated new CEO Fritz
Henderson's chances of turning around GM to be 40 to 60 percent.
government suggested that GM's over-reliance on insider executive
management led to a lack of accountability and a lack of urgency.
They suggested bringing in more outsiders. While Whitacre says
that GM isn't rushing to bring new blood onboard, he indicates that
the company is slowly bringing on outside talent. And though he
does not say it, he, himself is proof of this effort.
outlook for the near term is looking slightly more optimistic, with
sales in October rising for the first time since January 2008.
The company's marketshare also showed signs of life, capturing 20
percent of the market. Describes Whitacre, "One month does
not a trend make, but were hopeful about November. We're
pleased, but it's still pretty slow going out there."
remain for the automaker, though. It hasn't set specific
marketshare goals and doesn't want to add extra incentives, leading
to an uncertain picture of the company's direction. Still,
Whitacre says that the company is looking at various ways to improve
sales, "We are just looking at ways to sell more vehicles, and
it's a very competitive market. We need to strike a balance."
would be pleased to see GM be taken off the hands of taxpayers and
return to being a publicly held company. At this point, though,
it's unclear whether Whitacre's remarks are indeed a roadmap of what
lies ahead for GM or merely unrealistic optimism. It won't be
long, though, before we find out which they are.