Board will set the plan
In the next two months, executives will review GM’s business plan and budget with the board, Henderson said. The board will complete a plan for 2010 and 2011 in early December.
Henderson said an IPO will be governed by the automaker’s financial performance relative to investors’ expectations.
Investors will want GM to "set performance expectations for ourselves and ultimately for investors if we go [public] in 2010, and then perform against it," he said.
Henderson wants good numbers for earnings, operating cash flow and debt, among other things.
Through September, GM’s unit sales of 1.5 million were down 36 percent compared with the industry’s drop of 27 percent.
Auto market conditions late next year also will bear on a possible public offering, he said. But conditions are impossible to predict.
Said Henderson: "I think you can get your performance together and be ready to go. All of our shareholders want the company to go public."
The private company that emerged July 10 from federal bankruptcy is now 60 percent owned by the U.S. government. The other owners are the UAW, which owns 17.5 percent; the governments of Canada and Ontario, 12.5 percent; and unsecured bondholders, who own 10 percent.
The stigma of bankruptcy and a new nickname — "Government Motors" — is not lost on Henderson.
He thinks, though, that GM’s corporate image was damaged more than the image of the four surviving brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC.
Henderson said the brands have largely recovered.
"It’s kind of back to what’s the product?" he said. "What’s the value proposition? Are we delivering on the promise? Is it meeting the needs of the consumer? Is the brand something that’s desirable? It’s the basics of the business."