UPDATE 2-Canada unlikely to sell GM stake soon, experts

Wed Dec 19, 2012 4:00pm EST
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* No near-term catalysts for Canada to sell GM stake

* Finance Minister says there will be no "fire sale"

* Says stake will be sold eventually

By John Tilak and Susan Taylor

BURLINGTON, Ontario, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Political considerations are likely to keep Canada from following Washington's lead and selling its stake in General Motors Co , industry experts say, potentially until after the next general election, scheduled for 2015.

While Finance Minister Jim Flaherty on Wednesday repeated that Canada has no interest in being a long-term shareholder, experts say that the government's decision on when to sell will primarily hinge on political, rather than economic, factors.

The U.S. Treasury said on Wednesday that it plans to sell its entire stake in GM over 15 months, all but assuring a multibillion dollar loss.

The Treasury became a GM shareholder in 2009, when it contributed about $50 billion to a bailout to keep the company afloat. It will initially sell 200 million shares back to GM for $5.5 billion and sell its remaining stake, of about 300.1 million shares, through "various means."

The poor performance of automotive stocks suggests that Canada would also face a sizeable loss if it sold GM shares over the next two years, said Tony Faria, auto industry expert and professor at University of Windsor in Ontario.   Continued...