The latest goss out of Detroit courtesy of Reuters is that General Motors is in "intense" and "earnest" preparations for a bankruptcy filing.
Apparently, the beleaguered company may seek to split itself in half, keeping the most successful sellers and models under a revived GM banner, and flog the rest of it to the best bidder.
GM has declined to comment, and Reuters' two sources refused to go on record as nothing has yet been filed or even decided. But GM shares fell almost 12 percent on the New York Stock Exchange as a result of the gossip, after a brief rise and temperate stability through the recent restructuring period.
Obama mentioned the dreaded 'B word' in his recent speech regarding the viability of GM and Chrysler; right before giving the company a deadline of June 1 to meet even stricter obligations to pay back its US$13.4 billion government loan, and prove it can operate on its own two feet. Bankruptcy must seem like a good idea right now...
"If a company of this size files for bankruptcy, they have to be preparing for it now as time is running out and bankruptcy becomes more real," said Van Conway, a turnaround expert at Conway MacKenzie.
"But I think they should attempt to avoid it because emerging out of bankruptcy would be very difficult. Given its very large, global operations and various stakeholders, the process will take a lot longer than what people think," Conway said.
Moody's Investor Service predicts that the Detroit Three face a 70 percent risk of bankruptcy, given the difficulty of restructuring out of court.
Bankruptcy would force contractors and even the mighty union into renegotiating contracts and costs, making the mass restructuring of the company much easier, and rid the manufacturer of much of the debt that currently stalls its unsteady heartbeat.
But the cost to GM bonds and shareholders, the company's many current creditors, the 45,000 GM employees, and the American economy would probably make 13 billion bucks look like loose change.
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