Billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian has reduced his stake in General Motors to 7.8%, taking a loss on his investment in order to qualify for a tax break, according to a regulatory filing cited by The Associated Press (AP).

AP noted that Kerkorian - who has lobbied for more say in GM's operations and a seat on the automaker's board - owned nearly 10% of the company's shares at the beginning of December, according to the filing this week by his private investment firm, Tracinda, with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Los Angeles-based Tracinda reportedly said it sold the shares so that it can end its fiscal year with a capital loss, making it eligible for certain federal and California income tax breaks. This loss will offset certain gains from an unrelated transaction, the company said in the filing, according to the report.

According to The Associated Press, GM shares dropped to their lowest point in more than 15 years on Tuesday, and closed down 5.7% at US$19.85 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Kerkorian reportedly sold his shares at $22.02 each in the first transaction and $20.21 in the second sale - realising $251.6 million in all. AP said he had paid $31 each, or a total of $585.9 million, for the 18.9 million GM shares he bought in June, a purchase that raised his stake in the company at that time to 7.2% from 3.89%.

He paid $460 million for an additional 13.1 million shares in three transactions in September, AP added.

The Associated Press noted that GM and Kerkorian said last week that discussions about a possible board seat for the investor had stalled.

Auto market intelligence
from just-auto

• Auto component fitment forecasts
• OEM & tier 1 profiles & factory finder
• Analysis of 30+ auto technologies & more