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.
General Motors Makes Initial Public Offering
It's been a tough climb for the investors, and even harder for GM. The re-routed road to success was laced with potholes for the 102-year-old automaker, which was once one of the nation's most valuable companies. After filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009, the company was removed from the Dow Jones average, which is comprised of 30 companies. The stock was all but worthless when the government dished out TARP funds.
Despite the bailout by taxpayers, small investors may have a hard time getting the stock at the initial price. There's ownership by the U.S. government, the Canadian government and Chinese involvement in at least two different ways: investment banks in the deal are partly Chinese-owned and there's talk of SAIC, a part of the Shanghai city government, taking an ownership stake, says Aggarwal.
"It's fascinating that three countries are involved with this company," says Aggarwal. "This is the only time this has happened."
The U.S. Treasury will take a loss on its shares in the sale, and can break even only if they climb more than 60 percent, according to analsysis by Bloomberg News.
Additional reporting from ABC News' Aaron Katersky, Dan Arnall and Matthew Jaffe. The Associated Press also contributed to this story.