DETROIT, Michigan - General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM) today announced it would reduce its equity stake in Suzuki Motor Corp. from 20.4 percent to 3.0 percent, by selling 92.36 million shares. The strategic alliance between GM and Suzuki will continue.
GM plans to sell these Suzuki shares, representing 17.4 percent of the shares outstanding, through the Suzuki open-market buyback program and through market sales if necessary.
GM currently holds a total of 108.66 million Suzuki shares, which had a closing price of JPY 2500 per share on March 3 on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Based on this market value, GM expects to realize cash proceeds of approximately U.S. $2 billion from the sale of 92.36 million Suzuki shares, which will enhance the strength of GM’s balance sheet and liquidity position.
“GM has a great deal of respect and admiration for Suzuki based on our long and productive history of working together,” said Rick Wagoner, GM chairman and CEO. “Our relationship is strong, and we look forward to our continued partnership. This transaction will allow us to preserve our business relationship, while further building up GM’s already significant liquidity position during this critical phase of our turnaround.”
GM has held an equity stake in Suzuki since 1981, when it purchased approximately 5.3 percent of the Suzuki shares outstanding. GM’s stake was diluted to 3.5 percent in subsequent years, but in 1998 GM increased its holding in Suzuki to 10 percent, and to slightly over 20 percent in 2001. During this time, the companies have been involved in various joint projects in product development, advanced technology, global purchasing and supply chain management, and product distribution. Specific projects including collaboration in fuel cell and hybrid systems development, joint operation of CAMI Automotive, Inc. in Canada, the manufacture of a new medium-size SUV at the joint venture facility, and the cross-supply of OEM vehicles will continue. In addition, GM and Suzuki plan to work together on a proposed new automatic transmission program.
The sale by GM of a 17 percent equity stake in Suzuki, including cash proceeds received and any potential gain on sale, will be recorded in the first quarter. Based on current market value, GM expects a pre-tax gain on the sale in the range of US $550-$750 million. The tax rate on the Suzuki transaction is expected to exceed statutory rates largely as a result of certain tax credits that the transaction will eliminate.