GM's CFO says not just yet on hoped-for dividend

Thu Aug 8, 2013 11:56am EDT
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By Joseph R. Szczesny

TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan (Reuters) - General Motors Co's (GM.N: Quote) financial chief said on Thursday that the U.S. automaker has no current plans to pay a dividend on its common shares, a move that many investors have longed for.

"We're not paying a dividend at this point," Chief Financial Officer Dan Ammann told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in northern Michigan. "It's something we expect down the road." He gave no time frame.

Chief Executive Dan Akerson said in June that the Detroit company would consider a dividend and further share buybacks going forward. He cited GM's December repurchase of a block of U.S. Treasury shares for $5.5 billion and said GM might take a similar approach again.

GM last paid a dividend on common shares in May 2008 and two months later said it would suspend such payments. Weak industry demand then drove the company to seek bankruptcy protection in 2009 and it emerged as a leaner operation with more cash on hand with the help of a $49.5 billion U.S. taxpayer bailout.

GM does pay a dividend on preferred stock. Rival U.S. automaker Ford Motor Co (F.N: Quote) resumed paying a common dividend in March 2012 after suspending it for more than 5-1/2 years.

GM ended the second quarter with almost $35 billion in total automotive liquidity, and analysts said it could begin paying a dividend to common shareholders again once the U.S. government has exited its stake, which it has said will happen by April 2014. Treasury still owns a stake in GM of about 13.8 percent.

Ammann also said the decline in the value of the Japanese yen has created competitive challenges for GM in such markets as Southeast Asia and Australia.

"We're seeing more pressure in those markets than in the U.S.," he said.   Continued...

General Motors Chief Financial Officer Dan Ammann speaks during an interview with Reuters at GM's proving ground in Milford, Michigan June 25, 2012. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook