GM’s ‘Garage Sale’

GM’s ‘Garage Sale’

Automaker Set to Unload Golf Course, Shuttered Plants and Other Less Profitable Assets

By CHRIS BURY

BEDFORD, Ind., July 16, 2009 —

 

On its speedy exit from bankruptcy, the new General Motors left behind another company containing all the stuff it no longer wants. The bankrupt old GM is now Motors Liquidation Company — and everything must go.

When GM emerged from bankruptcy this month, it kept only its most profitable assets. So everything else is being sold in a corporate version of a garage sale.

The discarded assets will be all that creditors have to satisfy their claims as GM starts to unwind liabilities of $172.8 billion — more than twice its reported assets.

"It’s a little like selling a house that your family’s owned for 100 years," said Tom Wilkinson, a General Motors spokesman. "You’d be kind of amazed at some of the things you can collect in the attic."

Among the relics is the Hyatt Hills Golf Complex in Clark, N.J., which was built on once-contaminated soil where GM demolished an old factory.

"We believe it’s one of the finest nine-hole golf courses in all of New Jersey," said Clark Mayor Sal Bonaccorso.

But GM is desperately trying to unload the golf course, even throwing in the driving range, miniature golf and grill. Not to mention any polluted ground water.

"The new GM doesn’t really need to be in the golf course business," said Wilkinson.

Much of what’s collecting dust at Motors Liquidation is not exactly beachfront property.

In Bedford, Ind., GM’s cluttered old attic includes an abandoned Pentecostal church. The church is among more than 50 properties GM is ditching in this small town alone.

After toxic waste leaked from its plant here, GM had to buy entire blocks of homes. They have since been cleaned up.

Real estate broker Barbara Wright said GM will have a tough time trying to unload its real estate holdings in a sagging property market. "With more properties coming on the market, when we already have an overabundance of homes for sale, it’s going to be a little difficult," she said.

The company plans to leave behind 16 plants and associated real estate in Delaware, Ohio, New York, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Michigan, as well as an industrial park in Anderson, Ind., a former Cadillac site in Detroit, parking lots in Flint, offices and an employee development center in Pontiac, Mich., and 76 acres of vacant land in Van Buren, Mich., among other discarded property.

GM’s attic is stuffed with odds and ends. Looking for a used crash test sled? How about an old robot? A closed factory or two? Hardly a gold mine for GM’s creditors.

"These assets are not going to produce a lot of money because they’re not the good assets," said Lynn LoPucki, a bankruptcy professor at UCLA. "They’re not the most valuable assets of General Motors."

Cleaning out the attic could take many years, experts said. But GM boasts of bargains galore at Motors Liquidation Company, including one slightly contaminated golf course.

 

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