GMAC remaining mum on final hurdle of bailout
Posted: Monday, December 29, 2008 11:46 am
By: The Associated Press
The Messenger 12.29.08
By BREE FOWLER
AP Auto Writer
GRAND BLANC, Mich. (AP) — Days after the passage of a key deadline, the financing arm of General Motors Corp. remained silent today on if it cleared a final hurdle to become a bank-holding company and gain access to billions in federal bailout money.
Analysts have speculated that if GMAC Financial Services LLC doesn’t obtain financial help it would have to file for bankruptcy protection or shut down, which would be a serious blow to parent GM’s own chances for survival.
GMAC had received the Federal Reserve’s approval to become a bank-holding company last week, but the approval was contingent on the auto and home loan provider completing a complicated debt-for-equity exchange by 11:59 p.m. EST Friday.
In e-mails Saturday, GMAC spokeswoman Gina Proia did not provide any specifics but said GMAC planned to announce the results of the debt swap soon.
“The offer did expire yesterday at 11:59 p.m. as planned. We have not yet issued final results but intend to in the near term. I have no further comment on the exchange until then,” she wrote.
Becoming a bank-holding company would both qualify GMAC to access the government’s bank rescue funds and support GMAC loans to car buyers and GM dealerships.
GM owns 49 percent of GMAC.
The Federal Reserve apparently needed to see that bondholders were willing to inject more capital into GMAC. The bondholders needed reassurance that the Fed would approve GMAC’s application to qualify for federal aid.
If the financing company failed to meet the exchange deadline, it could mean severe consequences for automaker GM.
General Motors’ ownership of GMAC has kept the finance arm lending to dealers and car buyers, even as credit from traditional banks has dried up.
If GMAC goes under, other institutions aren’t likely to step in to replace the credit lost by GM’s dealers and customers.
The Fed’s action Wednesday came as GMAC was struggling to get bondholders to convert 75 percent of their debt into equity of the company.
GMAC’s goal is to reach $30 billion in capital, the majority of which would come from the exchange of debt. Another part of the equity requirement included a demand from the Fed that $2 billion of the total come from new equity. So far, GMAC has received a commitment of $750 million from GM and private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, which owns the majority stake in GMAC.
It’s unclear whether that funding would come from the bridge loans the U.S. Treasury granted GM and Chrysler LLC — which is owned by Cerberus— earlier this month.
GMAC has not said publicly how much it was requesting from the $700 billion bank bailout fund. CreditSights analyst Richard Hoffman estimated in a research note Friday that GMAC “could have applied for up to about $6.3 billion.”
The Fed order says GM will reduce its stake to less than 10 percent of the voting and total equity interest of GMAC. GM’s remaining equity interest in GMAC will be transferred to an independent government-accepted trustee who must dispose of the equity held in the trust within three years of the trust’s creation.
Cerberus, which led an investment group that bought a 51 percent stake in GMAC from the automaker for $14 billion in 2006, will reduce its stake in GMAC to no more than 33 percent of total equity.