U.S. Raised $489.9 Million From GM Share Sales Last Month

The U.S. Treasury, which is exiting its ownership stake in General Motors Co., accelerated its sell-down of the automaker in February, raising $489.9 million in proceeds from the sale of common shares.

The government disclosed the results yesterday in its monthly report to Congress on the status of the Troubled Asset Relief Program. A similar report last month said the Treasury received $156.4 million from selling GM shares in January.

The U.S. is moving to exit within the next 12 months its $50 billion investment in Detroit-based GM, the biggest segment of an auto industry bailout that was a centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s first term. The rescue drew criticism from Republican officials, with GM receiving the “Government Motors” label that Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson now is trying to shed.

“The story is moving on at GM,” Matthew Stover, an analyst with Guggenheim Securities LLC in Boston, who has a neutral rating on the shares. “They have to get on with the business of growing and moving past the crisis period, and one of the important pieces of all that is the government leaving the business.”

The number of GM shares sold and average price per share will be disclosed when each pre-arranged trading plan is completed, according to the Treasury report.

Share Buyback

GM in December purchased 200 million of its shares for $5.5 billion from the Treasury, moving the government a step closer to exiting the auto bailout. After that transaction, the Treasury was left holding about 300 million shares, or 19 percent on a fully diluted basis, and said that it planned to sell its entire holding within 15 months.

GM rose 0.2 percent to $28.37 at the close in New York. The shares have climbed 11 percent since Dec. 18, the day before the company disclosed the share purchase from Treasury. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has increased 7.3 percent during that span.

Akerson, 64, took command of GM in September 2010, overseeing the final stages of the company’s initial public offering in November of that year. The CEO is trying to boost GM’s profit margins, regain market share in its home market and break even in Europe by mid-decade as it competes with Toyota Motor Corp. and Volkswagen AG for global auto sales leadership.

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