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Flaherty Says Canada Won’t Be Long-Term GM Shareholder

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said the Canadian government doesn’t intend to be a long-term shareholder in General Motors Co.

Still, the government hasn’t decided when it will sell its GM shares and won’t hold a “fire sale” of its holdings, Flaherty told reporters today in Burlington, Ontario.

“We’ve always been clear about two things: One, that we will not have a fire sale, we will not sell the shares without getting the best value we can for Canadian taxpayers,” Flaherty said. “Secondly, we are a Conservative government, we are not interested in the long term in being shareholders in private corporations.”

GM said today it will buy 200 million shares of its stock from the U.S. Treasury as part of the department’s plan to sell its entire holding of the automaker’s stock within 15 months.

Flaherty said he spoke today with GM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson, and discussions have taken place regarding Canada’s shareholdings with the U.S. Treasury department and the company. He didn’t elaborate on the talks.

The federal and Ontario governments together hold just over 140 million common shares in Detroit-based GM, representing about 9 percent of the outstanding stock, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Canada is the third-largest shareholder in GM, behind the U.S. Treasury, which holds 32 percent, and the GM-UAW Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association with 10 percent.

GM rose 6.8 percent to $27.22 at 10:09 a.m. in New York.

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