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GM CEO Akerson Delivers Upbeat Assessment on Capitol Hill

“We’re fine,” he tells lawmakers as Treasury speeds up sell-off of GM stock.

by on Mar.21, 2013

GM CEO Dan Akerson.

General Motors is doing just “fine,” the maker’s chairman and CEO declared during a well-attended session with federal lawmakers at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington, today.

While it might have been a bit like asking a student to pencil in their own grade, Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson provided dozens of members of Congress what he billed as a report card of the company nearly four years after it emerged from bankruptcy as part of an $85 billion bailout of the nation’s auto industry.

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Asked whether there was anything GM still needs from the government, Akerson answered, “No, we’re fine,” pointing to the profits GM has delivered since its run through Chapter 11, its stream of new products and the thousands of new jobs it has been adding.

Nonetheless, that was probably a bit of an overstatement considering GM still has plenty of issues to deal with, including the sluggish recovery. But other issues are out of the control of Washington, anyway, especially the floundering European market where auto sales fell to their lowest level in nearly two decades during 2012 and are continuing to slip this year.

Nonetheless, Akerson was upbeat, telling the assembled lawmakers, “We’ve made tremendous financial progress. We’ve made great product progress. We’ve taken systemic risk out of the business and GM’s future today is much brighter than it had any right to expect four years ago.”

The U.S. Treasury invested a total of $49.5 billion into GM, starting in late 2008 under former Pres. George W. Bush, then ramping up when his successor Barack Obama entered the White House.  Both presidents said they acted to save an estimated 1 million jobs with the overall bailout including Chrysler and several automotive lenders.

However, critics scoffed, including some in attendance today such as California Republican House member Darrell Issa. Some dubbed the nation’s largest automaker “Government Motors,” and there were even calls for a boycott of the company.

The Obama Administration began selling down its stake in GM in a November 2009 IPO. It recently put another large chunk of its shares on the market and expects to complete the sell-off by early spring 2014. The latest progress report to Congress indicated that the Treasury would lost between $7 billion and $8 billion on the GM bailout if it received the same price it got in February, averaging under $29 a share, for the remaining holdings.

(For more on the new report, Click Here.)

Despite the former president’s involvement, the bailout became an issue Republicans tried to use against Pres. Obama during the 2012 campaign.

“We weren’t on any ballot last year, but we seem to be in every campaign,” Akerson said after his closed-door session at the Capitol Hill Club. “We’re a commercial enterprise and our job — this generation of management’s job at General Motors — is to transform the company into the 21st century.”

While Akerson’s words were meant to comfort lawmakers about GM’s progress, it appears what interested them most was the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray the maker parked outside the club.  Many looked inside and kicked the tires, undoubtedly wondering how to pay for the sports car on a government salary.

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2 Responses to “GM CEO Akerson Delivers Upbeat Assessment on Capitol Hill”

  1. Jorge M. says:

    Glad to hear that GM is doing fine. Now they need to re-pay tax payers the BILLIONS that tax payers have been cheated out of for helping GM survive so they could use the U.S. bailout funds to grow their Chinese sales. It’s simply unacceptable for tax payers to lose a dime from loaning GM money to survive.

  2. michaelsc1954@hotmail.com says:

    Its now time to give back to the workers all the money and benefits taken from them. Namely giving back the cost of living(cola)taken from the hourly workers to help save GM. Well GM is back on their proverbial feet now. The hourly workers deserve compensation and a return to wholeness too.