November 30, 2012 / 3:44 PM / in 5 years

Minister calls on Canada and Ontario to sell GM stake -report

* Canada and Ontario became GM shareholders in 2009 bailout

* Ontario minister says not job of gov’t to be shareholder

* Paper says sale would help reduce gov’t deficits

Nov 30 (Reuters) - The Canadian and Ontario governments should sell their stake in General Motors Co, which is equal to about 9 percent of GM’s shares, sooner rather than later, the province of Ontario’s finance minister is quoted as saying in a report in the Globe and Mail newspaper on Friday.

The two governments became shareholders in GM in 2009 when they contributed a combined C$10.8 billion ($10.89 billion) to a bailout to keep GM afloat.

“There’s certain restrictions on how many (shares) we can move at once and so on, but the sooner we’re out of the stock the better,” Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan told the newspaper.

“I just don’t think governments should be buying and holding stocks in private-sector companies,” he said.

Selling the stock would give an immediate boost to the coffers of both governments, which are both trying to reduce their budget deficits, the Globe said. The governments’ stake in GM, made up of around 140 million common shares and 16.1 million preferred shares, was worth C$3.5 billion at the end of September.

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has said Ottawa intends to sell its remaining shares in GM over time but that it will ensure that it gets a good deal for taxpayers.

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