DETROIT — General Motors Co. on Wednesday filed the first batch of paperwork required to sell stock to the public, a step that brings the automaker closer to shedding government ownership.
The 700-page filing, submitted to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, laid out GM's business plan and the risks facing investors thinking of buying shares in the revamped company. But the document was thin on details about the stock sale itself.
GM didn't say how many shares would be sold or when, although experts say the IPO could come as early as October. It also didn't say how many shares GM's majority owner, the U.S. government, plans to unload. However, GM did say that its stakeholders initially will sell common stock, while GM will sell preferred shares.
The IPO would have to bring in $70 billion just to pay back all of the automaker's stakeholders. That kind of money would make it the largest U.S. IPO ever.
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The U.S. government now owns about 61 percent of the company, which it got in exchange for giving GM $50 billion in survival aid last year. GM has repaid $6.7 billion, and the remaining $43.3 billion was converted to the ownership stake. Other stakeholders include a United Auto Workers health-care trust and the Canadian government.
GM said in the filing that the U.S. government would continue to own a "substantial interest" in the automaker following the IPO.
Demand for GM's new shares isn't known. In the coming weeks, the company will pitch itself to big investors such as pension, mutual and hedge funds, looking to get buyers to commit.
There are risks. GM lost about $100 billion in the five years leading up to last year's bankruptcy.
However, a quick run through bankruptcy court cleansed GM of burdensome debt. It closed 14 factories and its labor costs were cut dramatically through deals with the UAW.
GM earned a healthy $2.2 billion in the first half of this year despite depressed U.S. auto sales, and it's set up to do better if sales rebound in the coming years.
Still, the company gave investors a lengthy list of risks on Wednesday.
For example, the Chevrolet Volt, its highly anticipated electric car due for release this year, requires battery technology "that has not yet proven to be commercially viable."
Even new executives were listed as risk factors. GM acknowledged that incoming CEO Daniel Akerson and Chief Financial Officer Chris Liddell have "no outside automotive industry experience" and said it was important for the management team to "quickly adapt and excel" in their new roles.