WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Treasury on Wednesday said it will sell its investment in General Motors Co. (IW 500/4) over the next 12 to 15 months.

The announcement came as GM said it will buy 200 million shares of GM common stock held by the Treasury for $5.5 billion, or $27.50 per share.

The Treasury, which currently holds 500.1 million shares of GM common stock, said the move is part of its "continuing efforts to wind down its investments in the Troubled Asset Relief Program."

"The auto-industry rescue helped save more than a million jobs during a severe economic crisis, but TARP was always meant to be a temporary, emergency program," said Timothy Massad, assistant secretary for financial stability.

"Moving to exit our investment in GM within the next 12 to 15 months is consistent with our dual goals of winding down TARP as soon as practicable and protecting taxpayer interests."

GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson called the development "an important step in bringing closure to the successful auto industry rescue."

In October, GM posted a 12% drop in year-over-year profit for the third quarter, hit by losses in Europe.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012