GM Activists Want Board Seat, Billions in Share Buybacks Joe Raedle/Getty Images

GM Activists Want Board Seat, Billions in Share Buybacks

Strong auto sales, especially in the US and China, have made up for weakness in some other regions and offset the effects of a costly recall of cars with faulty ignition switches linked to at least 52 deaths.

NEW YORK - Activist shareholders are seeking $8 billion in share buybacks and a board seat at General Motors, the US auto giant said Tuesday.

GM said Harry Wilson, a corporate reorganization specialist who worked on the Obama administration's auto task force, told GM he intends to nominate himself as a candidate for the board at GM's 2015 annual shareholders meeting, representing a group of investors who hold about 2.1 percent of GM shares.

Wilson also plans to bring before shareholders a proposal calling for the $8 billion share buybacks to be completed within a year of the meeting.

GM said its board would evaluate the proposal and offer a recommendation to stockholders. The largest US automaker typically holds its annual meetings in June.

GM last week announced it was hiking its dividend by 20 percent following a 21 percent rise in fourth-quarter earnings to $1.1 billion. Strong auto sales, especially in the US and China, have made up for weakness in some other regions and offset the effects of a costly recall of cars with faulty ignition switches linked to at least 52 deaths.

GM's dividend hike last week "reflects the confidence the company has in the growing strength of the business," the automaker said Tuesday.

"As the company gets more clarity on several business open items related to recalls, it expects to continue to evaluate further return of capital to shareholders as soon as the second half of this year."

The US government invested about $50 billion to save GM, part of an auto industry bailout amid the 2008-2009 financial crisis. GM emerged from a government-backed bankruptcy reorganization in July 2009 and became a publicly traded company again in 2010.

Wilson is representing Taconic Parties, Appaloosa Parties, HG Vora Parties and the Hayman Parties, GM said.

GM shares rose 2.4 percent to $36.86 in mid-morning trade.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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