GM Says Bankruptcy Is Not an Option

By Reuters -  |  Posted 2008-10-10

DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Corp said it was not considering bankruptcy protection as market turmoil continues and Barclays Capital said on Friday that the company's cash needs were increasing.

Barclays cut its share-price target on GM to $4 on Friday, renewing potential pressure on the largest U.S. automaker.

GM shares fell as much as 16 percent to $4 in early New York Stock Exchange trade, their lowest price since 1949, before recovering. They had plunged 31 percent on Thursday following news of a potential credit ratings downgrade and a forecaster's report that global auto markets could be in danger of an "outright collapse" in 2009.

The company, which posted a second-quarter net loss of $15.5 billion, announced plans in July to improve its liquidity by about $15 billion by the end of 2009, about two-thirds through cost cuts and the rest through asset sales and new borrowing.

"Clearly we face unprecedented challenges related to uncertainty in the financial markets globally and weakening economic fundamentals in many key markets," GM said in a statement on Friday.

"But bankruptcy protection is not an option GM is considering," it said. "Bankruptcy would not be in the interests of our employees, stockholders, suppliers or customers."

On Thursday, Standard & Poor's said it might cut the credit ratings of GM and rival Ford Motor Co deeper into "junk."

Ford shares also dropped on Thursday, closing down 22 percent and setting a 26-year low on the NYSE after the S&P release.

The ratings statement followed influential industry forecaster J.D. Power and Associates' warning that U.S. auto sales would be even lower in 2009 than in 2008 and that global auto markets in 2009 were in danger of an "outright collapse."

Barclays said on Friday that heightened risks of a sharper decline in worldwide auto sales would also increase GM's cash needs.

"With auto sales stalled in the (United States) and beginning to contract in the rest of the world, we believe GM's cash needs are increasing," Barclays analyst Brian Johnson said in a note for clients.

Johnson said he estimated that GM would need to raise $10.3 billion to maintain liquidity of $14 billion through 2009. That figure was up from his earlier estimate that put GM's cash-raising need at $7.3 billion over the same period.

GM shares were down unchanged at $4.76 in morning trading, while Ford rose 10 cents, or 4.8 percent, to $2.18.

(Reporting by David Bailey and Kevin Krolicki; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)