GM submits plan to Congress, asks for $12 billion in loans

Following Ford, GM has also submitted its long-term plan to Congress outlining how its plans to become a “leaner, more competitive company, one that is profitable and self-sustaining for the long term.”

GM said that it is requesting loans of up to $12 billion to provide liquidity through Dec. 31, 2009. GM is asking for at least $4 billion in Dec. 2008 and is also request a $6 billion line of credit in case industry conditions get worse. The automaker said that it plans on repaying the loans as soon as 2011 and said that any draws will be conditioned on achieving a restructuring plan that includes:

– Increased production of fuel-efficient vehicles and energy-saving technologies;
– Rationalization of brands, models and retail outlets;
– Reduced wage and benefit costs, including further reductions in executive compensation;
– Significant capital structure restructuring;
– Further consolidation in manufacturing operations. 

Following are highlights from GM’S plan:

Product Portfolio and Fuel Efficiency ““ GM has made significant progress in revamping its product lineup, with new GM cars like the Chevy Malibu, Cadillac CTS, Saturn Aura and Opel/Vauxhall Insignia earning car of the year awards.While remaining a full-line manufacturer, GM will substantially change its product mix over the next four years, and launch predominately high mileage, energy-efficient cars and crossovers.

In addition, the Chevy Volt, which can travel up to 40 miles on electricity alone, is scheduled for production in 2010, and GM is planning other vehicles using Volt”s extended-range electric drivetrain. By 2012, more than half of GM vehicles will be flex-fuel capable, and the company will offer 15 hybrid models. GM will continue development of hydrogen fuel cell technology, which, when commercially deployed, will reduce automotive emissions to just water vapor.

During the 2009-12 plan window, GM will invest approximately $2.9 billion in alternative fuels and advanced propulsion technologies, which offer fuel economy improvements ranging from 12 percent to 120 percent, compared with conventional gas engines. As a result, we expect GM to become a significant creator of green jobs in the United States, as well helping suppliers and dealers transform the U.S. economy.

Market and Retail Operations ““ In the U.S., GM will focus its product development and marketing efforts on four core brands ““ Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC. Pontiac will be a specialty brand with reduced product offerings within the Buick-Pontiac-GMC channel. Hummer has recently been put under strategic review, which includes the possible sale of the brand, and GM will immediately undertake a global strategic review of the Saab brand. As part of the plan, the company also will accelerate discussions with the Saturn retailers, consistent with their unique relationship, to explore alternatives for the Saturn brand.

Manufacturing and Structural Costs ““ GM will accelerate its current efforts to reduce manufacturing and structural costs, building on significant progress made over the past several years. GM currently has the most productive assembly plants in 11 of the 20 product segments measured by the Harbour Report, and it is a global leader in workplace safety. With the recently negotiated wage rates, turnover expected in our workforce, planned assembly plant consolidations, further productivity improvements in the plan, and additional changes to be negotiated, GM’s wages and benefits for both current workers and new hires will be fully competitive with Toyota by 2012.

Balance Sheet Restructuring ““ Under the plan, GM would significantly reduce the debt currently carried on its balance sheet. GM plans to engage current lenders, bond holders and its unions to negotiate the needed changes. GM”s plan would preserve the status of existing trade creditors and honor all outstanding warranty obligations to both dealers and consumers, in the U.S. and globally.

Compensation and Dividends ““ The plan calls for shared sacrifice, including further reduction in the number of executives and total compensation paid to senior leadership. For example, the chairman and CEO will reduce his salary to $1 per year. The plan also requires further changes in existing labor agreements, including job security provisions, paid time-off, and post-retirement health-care obligations. The common stock dividend will remain suspended during the life of the loans.

Temporary Federal Bridge Loans ““ GM is seeking a term bridge loan facility from the Federal government of $12 billion to cover operating requirements under a baseline forecast of 12 million U.S. industry vehicle sales for 2009. In addition, GM is seeking a revolving credit facility of $6 billion that could be drawn should severe industry conditions continue, resulting in sales of 10.5 million total vehicles in 2009. This bridge loan is expected to be fully repaid by 2012 under the baseline industry assumptions. Also, warrants issued as part of the loans would allow taxpayers to benefit from growth in the company”s share price that might result from successful completion of the plan.

Once GM has completed the restructuring actions laid out in the plan, the company will be able to operate profitably at industry volumes between 12.5 and 13 million vehicles. This is substantially below the 17 million industry levels averaged over the last nine years, so it is considered to be a reasonably conservative assumption for gauging liquidity needs.

Federal Oversight Board ““ Given the importance and urgency of this restructuring for GM, other domestic manufacturers and the U.S. economy as a whole, the company supports the formation of a Federal oversight board. The board would help facilitate restructuring negotiations with a range of stakeholders.