GM Outsources Its Pensions To China

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

General Motors pensioners should not worry about their underfunded pension plan. Its assets will be in safe hands. Those of the Chinese government. The Chinese government has agreed to buy large chunks of it, says Financial Times. According to the paper, China’s “State Administration of Foreign Exchange, which manages China’s more than $3 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, will pay $1.5bn-$2bn for GM’s positions in blue chip private equity funds.”

The FT quotes an investment adviser who said the deal was discreet, even by private equity standards, because “there is clearly concern about selling U.S. assets to China, especially in an election year.” Says the Financial Times:

“The private equity industry has emerged as a major issue in this year’s US presidential election. Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate and founder of Bain Capital, has had to fend off criticism that the companies it acquired actively outsourced US jobs.

Lexington Partners, a specialist investor in second-hand private equity stakes, is advising Safe and will administer the complex portfolio, one person briefed on the situation said. It may also buy some GM positions that Safe does not want. The New York-based investor was one of three firms mandated in 2010 to pick up $1.5bn of private equity investments for China Investment Corp, the country’s sovereign wealth fund.”

According to Reuters, China, which holds close to $1.2 trillion in U.S. treasuries, “has been looking to capitalize on the liquidity concerns of assets managers such as pension funds amid financial market volatility by snapping up their assets.”

GM’s underfunded pension plan and its floundering Opel units are seen as the two largest risks to the company. GM has $109 billion in assets in its global pension plan, which has Its obligations of $134 billion.

Says Reuters: “Pension funds and other institutional investors lock up their money for an average of 10 years when they invest in private equity. To exit these investments, they have to find someone willing to buy their private equity fund stakes, which could have gone up or down in value.”

That buyer was found in GM’s new home, China.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href=""> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href=""> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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2 of 19 comments
  • Dvdlgh Dvdlgh on Jul 19, 2012

    See the USA in your Chevroret

  • Todd512 Todd512 on Sep 04, 2012

    The title of the article is mis-leading/sensationalist at best, China is buying GM's position in certain blue chip equities for 1.5 to 2 billion dollars. The pension fund is currently funded at 109 billion with 134 billion dollars worth of obligations. So it looks like China will own around 1% of the pension fund and that does not appear to be a controlling interest in anything. And the point of the article was what?

  • ToolGuy Personally I have no idea what anyone in this video is talking about, perhaps someone can explain it to me.
  • ToolGuy Friendly reminder of two indisputable facts: A) Winners buy new vehicles (only losers buy used), and B) New vehicle buyers are geniuses (their vehicle choices prove it):
  • Groza George Stellantis live off the back of cheap V8 cars with old technology and suffers from lack of new product development. Now that regulations killed this market, they have to ditch the outdated overhead.They are not ready to face the tsunami of cheap Chinese EVs or ready to even go hybrid and will be left in the dust. I expect most of their US offerings to be made in Mexico in the future for good tariff protection and lower costs of labor instead of overpriced and inflexible union labor.
  • MaintenanceCosts This is delaying an oil change for my Highlander by a couple of weeks, as it prevented me from getting an appointment before a business trip out of town. Oh well, much worse things have happened.I also just got a dealership oil change for my BMW (thanks, loss-leader prepaid plans!) and this didn't seem to affect them at all.
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Gonna need more EV fuel.