GM Share Offer Bolts Out of Gate: $33 Per Share

Will the new GM be able to stay afloat after bailout?

ByABC News
November 17, 2010, 2:02 PM

Nov. 17, 2010— -- After bankruptcy, a high-profile delisting, and a controversial government bailout, the new General Motors Co. priced its initial public offering of 478 million shares at $33 each on Wednesday amid high demand.

The price tag makes it one of the largest IPOs in U.S. history, raising as much as $23 billion with preferred shares included. The shares begin trading Thursday.

The new GM has far fewer workers and car models, and despite the high interest in the share offer, there's still much to be done to call this a turnaround story.

"One-third of their product line is really good, but one-third of their product line is mixed and needs some work and is self-described as crappy," said Linda Killian, founder of Renaissance Capital in Greenwich Connecticut.

Senior administration officials called GM's IPO an "important major milestone" and said tonight the U.S. Treasury will sell 358 million government shares of the company to raise $11.8 billion. It would reduce the government's primary ownership stake in GM to about 37 percent. It had been 61 percent.

If an over-allotment option is exercised as expected, gross proceeds would grow to $13.6 billion and government ownership would drop to about 33 percent.

The officials called the IPO a "good and positive statement about the president's decision to back the company."

The White House declined to characterize the demand for GM shares and would not speculate on the future value of the stock. "We believe that the proper balance was found in the 358 million shares we sold."

Since the U.S. remains the primary shareholder it will continue the same oversight of GM as before, "though at a reduced level." Compensation limits for GM executives et al are still in place and are not being altered as a result of the IPO.

A source familiar with the GM situation told ABC News that after a $9.5 billion payment earlier this year and the IPO, GM's obligation to the taxpayer will be cut roughly in half. The government will still own about 470 million GM shares, about 25 percent of the company.

GM shares were originally expected to go public at $26 to $29 a share. But then investment banks got orders from professional investors at big institutions for much more than were up for sale. So they raised the offering price to $32 to $33 a share and the number of shares offered by one-third.

The news comes as other IPOs, such as those from the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton and the auto website Bitauto Holdings Ltd, generated respectable demand. Prices of both rose slightly.

Any time IPOs increase in size and price it is a good sign, said Reena Aggarwal, a professor of finance at Georgetown McDonough School of Business. "GM's ability to successfully come out with an IPO during choppy times demonstrates that investors are extremely interested in the deal," says Aggarwal.

And, if the markets are any indication, the economy is improving. After the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell below 7,000 in March of 2009 during the financial crisis, it has risen above 11,000.