October 11, 2005
Kerkorian is Pressuring a Struggling GM
The Delphi bankruptcy puts as much as $11 billion in additional debt on GM's balance sheet, as GM had agreed to guarantee selected Delphi worker benefits in the 1999 spin-off. GM's shares dropped nearly 10 percent on the news of the Delphi pancreatic and ratings agencies further downgraded GM bonds to three notches below investment grade. Tracinda, Kerkorian's investment group, owns close to 10 percent of GM and those who follow GM as guessing that Kerkorian now will emerge to demand changes -- a board seat and to encourage GM to sell divisions (Saab?), spin off some of its financial business, and/or a stock buyback. My guess? GM currently has enough cash to stay solvent until 2007. An extraordinary stock dividend or large, one-time stock buyback would deplete the cash, hastened bankruptcy, enable GM to dump its pension plan and health benefits program on the government in Chapter 11, and end up with a leaner and meaner GM emerging from bankruptcy. Kerkorian, who holds stock (that would be worthless in Chapter 11), will push the dividend or buyback hard now.
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