GM targets investment grade rating 'within the year'

Wed Jun 12, 2013 4:07pm EDT
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By Ben Klayman

DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Co (GM.N: Quote) on Wednesday said it is targeting an investment grade credit rating "within the year" as the automaker works to distance itself from the stigma of its 2009 bankruptcy.

GM disclosed the goal in slides posted online ahead of presentations by Chief Executive Dan Akerson and Chief Financial Officer Dan Ammann, who are meeting with analysts at the company's test track in Milford, Michigan.

Ammann did not use the words in the slide and referred questions about when GM would achieve its goal to analysts for the rating agencies in the audience.

"We're obviously targeting an investment grade rating as soon as possible," Ammann said. "We're obviously working toward that ... and something that we hope to achieve in the near term."

Smaller U.S. rival Ford Motor Co (F.N: Quote) achieved an investment grade credit rating last year, allowing it to get lower rates on borrowing and expanding the number of potential buyers for its bonds. GM would be able to do the same.

In January, Akerson said he hoped GM would achieve an investment grade credit rating in 2013. That same month, treasurer James Davlin said GM was "trending toward investment grade.

GM went public in the autumn of 2010, after its 2009 bankruptcy restructuring and $49.5 billion U.S.-taxpayer bailout. The bailout led some critics to call the company "Government Motors" and executives said the stigma has hurt sales some.

GM executives have often boasted of the Detroit company's "fortress balance sheet," but investors are more focused on a return to profitability in its money-losing European unit and the exit of the U.S. Treasury as a shareholder.   Continued...

The General Motors world headquarters is seen in downtown Detroit, Michigan May 31, 2009. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook