Ex GM CEO Ed Whitacre was shown the door after he claimed in a national television commercial that GM had repaid its government loans. This was word parsing at its worst, as GM had only returned unused loans it didn’t need. The commercial implied, even though it did not specifically state, that GM was no longer in hock to the government and U.S. taxpayers, which was certainly not true. Some might argue that GM is using tax payer money to buy back taxpayer stock, a move similar to the claim that sank Whitacre.
What would another 18 to 24 months hurt? The President won his second term. What can the political pressure be? Why not give the stock the chance to improve? Is GM actually claiming that the cap on compensation is why they have had high velocity executive churn since the restructuring?
Has the government been “heavy handed” in its ownerships of GM, except for the jets and executive compensation? Recalling the previous bailout of Chrysler in the 1980s, Lee Iacocca chafed under the government supervision he had to live with during that era, ESPECIALLY the one that kept his jet grounded. In addition, the Feds were pushing Chrysler to divest itself of its truck division. All it took was for Ronald Reagan to make a crack to Iacocca at a Statue of Liberty restoration event about how Iacocca should be grateful that Carter was in the White House, and not Reagan, when the bailout was approved and signed, and the Chrysler CEO was more than incensed. He took a huge risk and paid the Feds off early, forgoing over $300 million in interest savings to do so. Iacocca put Chrysler at risk from a cash position perspective, even though the gamble ultimately paid off, but he saved the truck division, which has been the largest source of profits for Chrysler since. And he got his jet back and stuck it to Reagan. So is it ego or legitimate business considerations driving this current GM stock buyback move?