Although much of today's news regarding General Motors has been focused on brand elimination, layoffs, plant closures and dealer reductions, there is another major component of company's new "Viability Plan" that has, potentially, even more significant implications. If GM's plan to reduce its debt is successful, the U.S. government will end up with a 50 percent stake in GM, while the UAW will hold 39 percent of the company.
So far, the U.S. Treasury has lent GM over $15 billion. At least half of that debt will be converted to equity, giving the government a 50 percent stake in GM. Meanwhile, cash obligations to the UAW could also be turned into equity, giving the union's Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA) a 39 percent slice of the company.
GM is hoping bondholders will accept equity, too. These debtors could end up with a 10 percent share collectively, assuming they're willing to make the concessions.
Perhaps hardest hit will be current common stockholders, who will be left with just 1 percent of the company if the plan succeeds.