GM’s Whitacre sees IPO share price in $20-25 range

By Reuters
Posted Oct. 13, 2010 at 3:37 p.m.

Shares of General MotorsĀ  Co. are likely to be priced between $20 and $25 in the initial public offering by the automaker in November, Chairman Ed Whitacre said on Wednesday.

“It’s a little too early to say, but it is going to be somewhere in the $20 range…$20, $25, something like that would be my guess,” Whitacre said when asked what the price of the GM stock should be in the IPO.

“It’s a little too early to tell, but somewhere in there,” he said in response to a question from Reuters after a business event honoring him near his home in San Antonio.

Bankers familiar with preparations for the GM IPO have said that the automaker would conduct a share split in order to price the stock low enough to attract retail investors.

Sources with knowledge of the developing deal have said that price was likely to be near the $20 to $25 range.

But Whitacre’s comments represented the first time that GM has commented on the issue.

A pitch to retail investors is expected to be a major focus in the GM IPO, although the automaker and its advisers have been barred from discussing those preparations because of U.S. securities regulations.

Earlier this week, GM extended a deadline for its roughly 600,000 workers and retirees in the United States and Canada to register to buy shares in the IPO.

Whitacre said he could not say how large the GM IPO would be but predicted it would be successful in reducing the U.S. government’s 61 percent stake in the top U.S. automaker.

GM was restructured in a bankruptcy funded by the Obama administration and given $50 billion in U.S. taxpayer funding.

“I can’t say how much we’ll sell, but I can say we’ll have a successful IPO sometime in November,” Whitacre said. “It’s going to work and it was absolutely the right thing to save this company.”

Whitacre, who was replaced by Dan Akerson as GM chief executive on September 1, said he had stepped down from the top management post because he had not been prepared to stay on to lead the company’s turnaround effort over the longer term.

“Had I stayed through the IPO, I would have had to stay a long time,” Whitacre said. “Investors are going to buy the management of the company, as well as the cars they make. I was not prepared to stay another few years, so it is time for me to do it now.”

Whitacre, 68, acknowledged that there had been “a lot of speculation” about his health, but said that had no role in his decision. “I’m fine,” he said.

Whitacre, who has been driving a Cadillac CTS-V, said he expected to take delivery of one of the first Chevy Volts available next week.

The Volt, which is designed to travel up to 50 miles under battery power alone, represents an effort by GM to win back a reputation for innovation and win over the kind of affluent car shoppers that have been drawn to the Toyota Prius.

“I plan to drive the first one right here in San Antonio,” said Whitacre.

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