Shareholders to settle GM’s fight with activist investor » Manila Bulletin Business

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By Associated Press

General Motors’ normally tranquil annual meeting could be a contentious affair this year, as an activist investor targets GM’s stagnant stock price.

The nation’s No. 1 automaker has posted more than $42 billion in profits over the past seven years. Yet the stock has stubbornly hovered near its $33 initial offering price from November 2010.

In this Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013, file photo, the logo for General Motors decorates the entrance at the site of a GM information technology center in Roswell, Ga. Shares of General Motors rose slightly Tuesday, May 30, 2017, as a proxy fight escalated between the company and a hedge fund that wants to split its shares into two classes. David Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital said Tuesday it’s sending a letter to shareholders emphasizing that the stock price has barely grown since GM’s initial public offering at $33 seven years ago. GM says two independent evaluation firms are against the proposal that it calls too risky | AP Photo/David Goldman, File | Manila Bulletin

That’s led investor David Einhorn to propose splitting the stock into two classes: One for capital appreciation, the other for those who want dividends. Einhorn’s Greenlight Capital hedge fund owns 3.6 percent of GM. The automaker’s management opposes the proposal as too risky.

The fight will be settled Tuesday at the annual meeting when shareholders vote on the proposal and also elect all 11 company directors. Greenlight has nominated three of its own candidates to the board.

Greenlight argues that its plan unlocks tens of billions in stock value that’s stuck in the current structure. Despite GM’s profits, cost cuts and investments in future technology, the stock has risen only 4.5 percent since the 2010 IPO.

“If shareholders do not insist on action, GM’s incumbent board will continue to do nothing to fix GM’s valuation problem,” Greenlight said in a statement.

But GM CEO Mary Barra said in a letter to shareholders that there’s no evidence that Greenlight’s plan will work and there may not be any demand for the new stock.

The split also could cause GM to lose its investment grade credit rating, increasing costs for the company and its auto financing arm, Barra wrote.

The company also says two independent evaluation firms have analyzed the plan and recommended against it.

Barra has been cutting fixed costs, shedding unprofitable businesses, raising quality and developing products for the future such as the Chevrolet Bolt, a fully electric car that goes 238 miles per charge and costs under $30,000 with a federal tax credit. GM also has returned $18 billion to shareholders in dividends and stock buybacks from 2012 to 2016, with another $7 billion expected this year

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