GM Sees Profit, Possible IPO

New CFO says a number of factors will affect the timing of an IPO, but it could still happen the second half of 2010.

General Motors could be ready for an initial public stock offering as early as the second half of this year, the automaker's new chief financial officer said on March 17.

"I think we have a reasonable chance of being profitable this year," Chris Liddell said.

"The pre-conditions for success are extremely good," Liddell said, noting that GM's cost structure is "in much better shape" as a result of a government-funded bankruptcy restructuring and its balance sheet "is relatively strong for what the company has gone through in the past couple of years."

Liddell cautioned that a "number of factors" will affect the timing of an IPO, but said a stock offering in the second half of 2010 is "still possible."

"We need the right conditions. The economy needs to look reasonably strong and the market needs to be good," he said. "You don't want to go into a market that's not receptive."

Liddell, who joined GM in January after stepping down as the CFO of Microsoft, said he doesn't want to be "driven by a timetable" and cautioned that "the timing has to be right."

The U.S. government holds a 61% stake in the nation's largest automaker and has said it does not want to hang onto that stake indefinitely. Liddell cautioned that it could take "a number of years" to wind down the government's stake in GM and that "an IPO is only the first step in the government selling down its share."

Liddell said the government has not tried to get involved in the day-to-day operations of the automaker or dictate GM's strategy beyond the reporting requirements specified under the terms of the federal bailout. "I haven't received any guidance from them," he said. "I don't treat them any differently than I do any other shareholder."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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