Gm to Allow Top Execs Trade Companys Shares

By: Mike Bartley

The General Motors Corp. will let its Chief Executive Officer Rick Wagoner along with 20 other top executives to buy and sell the company's shares. This decision is made after a two-year ban because of concerns about unintended insider trading.

The executive trades will be allowed until May 31, spokeswoman Renee Rashid-Merem said in an interview. The Detroit-based automaker banned such trading in 2005 at about the same time it shunned financial forecasts on fears over insider trading. The automaker does not intend to begin forecasts again, Rashid-Merem said.

"We have resolved a lot of significant matters and provided a lot more detail on pending matters," such as the sale of a stake in its finance unit and labor issues such as health care and buyouts, Rashid-Merem said in an interview. Executives with significant future financial information not available to the public may still be prevented from trading, she added.

Experts said that resuming the trading is another sign of growing confidence at GM, the largest Detroit automaker. The increase in confidence is pointed to the fact that Wagoner and his top two deputies regained half of a 2006 pay cut last month. In March, they received their first restricted stock grants since 2003.

Wagoner reiterated last week that he expects automotive operations to improve this year from a $2 billion loss last year. "If you saw executives buying now, if Rick Wagoner buys some shares, that would probably be a positive signal to the market," said John Novak, an analyst at Morningstar Investment Service Inc. in Chicago who rates GM shares the equivalent of a sell. "These people have had their hands tied for two years, some people at lower levels may need to sell."

It can be recalled that GM has precluded top executives to buy and sell its shares since the first quarter of 2005, just before it ceased giving profit estimates in April. The company said it wanted to shun those with internal financial information from inadvertently engaging in insider trading.

The information on executive trading was divulged by the automaker in an internal announcement last Tuesday. The ban is being lifted after Wagoner narrowed GM's loss to $2 billion in 2006 from $10.4 billion in 2005. The automaker paid 34,400 union workers to leave. It also then closed plants and sold assets that will yield about $16 billion.

Last week, the largest Detroit automaker said that the first quarter profit declined by 90 percent because of losses related to home loans at a finance unit and continued North American losses. On April 25, Wagoner reassured employees that his plan to end losses is working after the Toyota Motor Corp. passed GM in the first quarter global sales. Wagoner's last share activity was in March 2005, when he bought 50,000 shares valued at $1.5 million.

Last week, GM said it expects to sell 9.2 million cars and trucks worldwide this year, while Toyota forecasts sales of 9.34 million. GM has been No. 1 in global sales for 76 years. GM today employs about 284,000 people around the globe. With global headquarters in Detroit, the automaker manufactures its cars and trucks in 33 countries.

GM shares were the best performers in the Dow Jones Industrial Average last year, increasing 58 percent. In 2005, they tumbled down by 52 percent. The shares dropped by 14 cents last Tuesday to close at $29.77 on the New York Stock Exchange and fell 3.1 percent this year. But the shares have to rise once more like the high-performing . Otherwise, its long-term reign as the largest automaker worldwide will be snatched by Toyota, the fast-rising Japanese automaker.

Car Focus
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 

» More on Car Focus
 



Share this article :
Click to see more related articles