GM aims for investment grade rating in 2013: CEO
By Ben Klayman
DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Co (GM.N: Quote) aims to achieve an investment grade credit rating this year, the company's top executive said, adding that he wants to see all five of the automaker's business units post profits or break-even by mid-decade.
Chief Executive Dan Akerson said on Wednesday that he wants GM's margins to be among the industry's best by roughly 2015, when GM has said it expects to break-even in Europe.
GM is struggling to stem losses in the depressed and highly competitive European market where its Opel unit competes. GM has made inroads in restructuring its European operations, but Akerson said he is not yet satisfied with GM's current position.
"We're going to make our best efforts to achieve break even by matching our cost structure with our likely revenue flow," Akerson said during a roundtable with reporters in Detroit.
"That is the, as they say in the US, the $64,000 question," he added. "Are we going to get it right? Are we going to be too optimistic? Are we going to be too pessimistic?"
GM expects its new models will help make modest share gains in the U.S. market this year, Akerson said. But he added that the government's exit of its stake in GM was critical to comforting investors that the automaker has turned a corner since its federal bailout in 2009.
U.S. Treasury sold part of its stake in GM to the automaker last month, reducing the government's stake in the U.S. automaker to about 19 percent.
Treasury plans to exit the rest of its GM stake over the next 12 to 15 months, a move that will all but lock in a multibillion-dollar loss for the government.
The GM sale increased the proceeds that Treasury has recovered to $28.6 billion of the $50 billion bailout GM received. With $20.9 billion left from the original bailout, the government would have to sell its remaining shares at an average price of $69.72 to break even.
(Reporting by Ben Klayman; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Sofina Mirza-Reid)
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