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U.S. Treasury speeds up sell-off of GM stock
Washington —The U.S. Treasury is accelerating its sell-off of stock in General Motors Co., which likely will be free of the moniker “Government Motors” by spring.

The taxpayers’ ownership stake in the Detroit-based automaker, once more than 60 percent, is now down to 7.3 percent.

According to documents filed Tuesday on the Treasury’s website, the government has 101 million remaining shares, and it intends to sell them by March.

The pace of the sell-off has picked up: The government sold an average of 19 million shares in the early part of the year, but since May has sold more than 25 million a month — plus a one-time special sale of 30 million in June, worth more than $1 billion, to coincide with GM’s return to the S&P 500.

U.S. taxpayers acquired 912 million shares of GM in exchange for a $49.5 billion bailout that began in 2008, under President George W. Bush, and mushroomed the following year under his successor, President Barack Obama.

“We remain on track to complete our exit from GM by early next year,” Tim Massad, the Treasury’s assistant secretary for financial stability, said Tuesday.

GM’s stock closed Tuesday at $36.71. At current trading prices, the government’s remaining stake is worth about $3.7 billion. From previous stock sales, the Treasury has recovered $35.4 billion of its GM bailout, and at current stock prices, taxpayers would have lost about $10 billion on the bailout.

The Treasury estimates taxpayers will have lost $15 billion on their $85 billion auto industry bailout, which also included aid to bankrupt Chrysler. Auburn Hills-based Chrysler has repaid its debt.

“Our actions to save the American auto industry prevented the loss of an estimated 1 million jobs while costing the taxpayer far less than originally projected,” Massad said.

Gene Sperling, the White House National Economic Council adviser, said the bailout “has turned out far better than anyone could have dreamed of — not only terms of job creation and the economy and manufacturing, but in terms of those companies and their suppliers being poised to increase and take market share.”

Like the U.S. Treasury, the Canadian and Ontario provincial governments also bought GM stock to help keep the company afloat. The Canadians put up $10 billion toward a bailout, and acquired an 11.7 percent stake in GM. They sold 30 million shares in GM for $1.1 billion last week, and now hold about 110 million shares. Detroit News

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