Bailout Watch 351: GM Running On Fumes. Again. Still.

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
bailout watch 351 gm running on fumes again still

Fritz Henderson is not a happy camper. Speaking at the Automotive News World Serious, GM’s Chief Operating Officer came off all emo, revealing a string of bad news without the usual spin. Of course, the event’s host chose to focus on the more, uh, upbeat side of Fritz’ speech. Henderson washed his hands of HUMMER, Saab and Saturn, albeit without announcing a “final solution.” And although “Pontiac is toast” isn’t the brand’s official tag line, it might as well be. “Henderson said the four core brands [Chevy, Cadillac, GMC and Buick] comprised 83 percent of GM’s total sales volume in the United States last year. Going forward, the Pontiac brand will ‘shrink substantially,’ Henderson said. But the fact that GM is investing heavily in the Buick brand in China will benefit that brand in the United States. ‘When you see the new LaCrosse, it will be very familiar to the one you’ve seen GM reveal in China,’ Henderson said.” And now, the real deal, brought to you by the MSM…

Yahoo! Finance:

‘”GM received an initial $4 billion in emergency funding from the U.S. Treasury on December 31 and had expected to receive its next $5.4-billion payment from the government last Friday.

“That payment was delayed, Henderson said, because the automaker was pressed to submit additional information and because Treasury officials were busy with other funding requests and the change in administration in Washington.

“‘If we don’t get the second installment of our funding, we’ll run out of cash. It’s that simple.”

The Wall Street Journal:

“‘The situation can always get worse,’ Mr. Henderson said, speaking at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit. ‘We need to accept responsibility for radical actions to address events that are outside our control.’

“Despite the foreboding tone, Henderson reiterated his confidence that GM’s recovery plan, presented to the U.S. government as a condition of winning up to $13.4 billion in federal loans. He said GM’s decision to ask for money to avoid a bankruptcy was a ‘sad day’ for the company.

“‘The happiest day of my career will be the day we repay the loan,’ he said…

“Mr. Henderson described a meltdown of global auto markets today in last year’s fourth quarter that took GM by surprise. Rising unemployment and a credit crunch in the U.S. combined with an economic slump that spread around, slamming the auto maker on all fronts, he said.

“‘We didn’t necessarily see this freight train coming,’ Mr. Henderson said. ‘2008 almost killed us.'”

Note the word “necessarily” and the idea that 2008 was responsible for GM’s precarious position. Fritz is still in denial. Perhaps the bondholders refusal to swap debt-for-equity will provide a wake-up call. But then it’s way too late for that.

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  • Runfromcheney Runfromcheney on Jan 21, 2009

    "Its tough times in the car buisness,I just read that Mazda is begging for money.Everybody everywhere is hurt." Mikey, that just gave me a good idea of what Obama should handle GM. What Mazda wants is for the Japanese government to pay the wages of the workers at the plants that have been idled. If you ask me, that is what they should do here. Just pull the plug at GM and let them go down, and then use the money to help out all the workers who will be put out of work due to GM's death. It makes more sense then propping up a dead company just for job security.

  • Tesla deathwatcher Tesla deathwatcher on Jan 21, 2009

    2008 did kill you, Fritz. You're a zombie company and you apparently don't even know it. You live only by sucking on the blood of those still living, and if you are not killed off, will pull many more down with you.

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  • ToolGuy Gut feel: It won't sell all that well as a new vehicle, but will be wildly popular in the used market 12.5 years from now.(See FJ Cruiser)