At this point, the only thing we know for sure about the General Motors initial public offering is that it will happen... eventually. With the United States government holding a 61-percent equity stake in the automaker, the political pressure is huge to make a stock sale occur sooner rather than later.
However, until GM CEO Ed Whitacre spoke at the Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, MI this week, the presumption was that only about one-third of the company's stock would be offered up in the IPO. Whitacre, however, seems to be indicating that the entire company would be offered up in a single sale. The rationale for doing the stock sale in stages would be to maximize the return on the government's investment. A single sale might result in a lower per-share price and lower overall return. By selling a smaller stake and then timing further sales with a hopefully rising stock price, the return could be improved.
Following Whitacre's comments, other GM representatives told CNBC that the final decision would be made by the current shareholders, the U.S. and Canadian governments, the UAW health care trust and former bondholders.