Whitacre: Treasury will make money on GM rescue

January 11, 2010 http://detnews.com/article/20100111/AUTO04/1110392

Whitacre: Treasury will make money on GM rescue

DAVID SHEPARDSON
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Edward Whitacre Jr. said GM will repay the balance of its $6.7 billion U.S. government loan by June and the government will make money.

"I think (the government bailout was) well placed and I think they’ll make a lot of money," Whitacre said. "GM’s on its way back. We’ll be back. The government’s made a good investment. We appreciate their support. We’re glad there here."

He also said GM is doing some limited hiring.

"We’re hiring a few now," Whitacre said. "We’re not (in) shrinking mode. We’re in a growing mode."

GM’s North American president, Mark Reuss, said Monday that GM could reopen some shuttered factories, but didn’t offer any specifics.

"I think we’re on our way and I think there are better days ahead," Whitacre told reporters at the North American International Show.

This was Whitacre’s first tangle with the 5,000 assembled journalists for the North American International Auto Show.

"I can’t breathe," he said at one point as the scrum of reporters tightened. Asked what made this show different than last year, he said: "I don’t know. I wasn’t here."

Whitacre didn’t beat around the bush. Asked how he fit inside the Chevrolet Camaro, the lanky Whitacre said "not too well" but quickly added it’s a "great car."

GM has shuttered plants, jettisoned thousands of white-collar and factory workers, and dropped Pontiac, Saturn and Saab as part of a major restructuring exacerbated by the global economic downturn.

GM’s U.S. sales dropped 30 percent last year, and its U.S. market share dropped to 19.8 percent from 22.2 percent in 2008, according to Autodata Corp.

Whitacre, a no nonsense Texan and former chairman of AT&T Corp., has installed a sense of urgency at all levels of GM by revamping top management to drive accountability and help spur revenue and market share gains.

GM is taking other measures to boost sales, including recent price cuts on the Chevrolet Malibu sedan and Cadillac CTS sport sedan.

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