General Motors seems unlikely to reach key agreements ahead of a 31 March deadline after its union and bondholders went public with a dispute over concessions, an analyst has said.
“We don’t think GM will be able to meet certain objectives by the deadline,” Standard & Poor’s Equity Research Services analyst Effraim Levy wrote in a research note cited by Reuters.
The United Auto Workers union and bondholders were “playing cat and mouse about accepting equity in lieu of cash until they see what the other stakeholders get,” Levy said.
GM must neogitate a deal with unions and bondholders by the end of March under terms of the US government’s bailout loan deal.
Levy expected a union agreement by then but said there was “resistance from GM bondholders with nearly US$30bn in debt (principal amount) to swapping that debt for GM shares worth about one-third that amount.”
A union source close to the talks told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that negotiations with GM were being delayed by a lack of sufficient sacrifices by bondholders.
The source also said “time is an issue” and noted it takes about seven to 10 days to get an agreement ratified by members.
The disagreement was publicised last week by UAW legislative director Alan Reuther complaining in a letter to lawmakers that bondholders were demanding additional sacrifices from retirees that go “beyond those called for by the terms of the loan agreements.”
GM bondholders responded by suggesting pensioners were at the root of GM’s problems, Reuters noted.
Bondholders then wrote to the presidential auto task force saying the government’s proposal would not be accepted by a sufficient number of bondholders.
“The result of such a failed exchange would likely be a bankruptcy that would have dire consequences for the company, the tens of thousands of hard-working Americans that GM employs and the economy as a whole,” the committee wrote.
GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson would say only that “GM remains committed to concluding its balance sheet restructuring on an expedited basis.”
Industry observers told the news agency it was unlikely that the government would let the country’s largest automaker fail.
Task force lead adviser Steve Rattner appeared to back off the 31 March deadline in a series of recent interviews in which he criticised bondholders for being “difficult” and warned that GM and Chrysler could need “considerably more” aid than they have already asked for, Reuters noted.