US: Kerkorian offloads more GM shares

By just-auto.com editorial team | 1 December 2006

Dissenting GM shareholder Kirk Kerkorian is offloading more GM shares. His Tracinda Corp said Thursday it will sell the shares today (Dec 1) in a private transaction for US$28.75 each, or a total of US$402.5m.

The move reduces Kerkorian's holdings to 28m shares, or 4.95%, half of what it was about a week ago.

Kerkorian, 89, was GM's second-largest shareholder with 56m shares; now he will be its fifth-largest shareholder - if he has not fully relinquished his GM position yet..

The stake may well be lower than that. The Wall Street Journal, quoting an unnamed source, reported in its online edition Friday that Tracinda subsequently sold its remaining 28 million GM shares - taking the stake to zero. The newspaper reported that the shares were sold to Bank of America, a key lender to Kerkorian.

That report remains unconfirmed. But by reducing his stake to less than 5%, Tracinda no longer faced disclosure requirements for intentions on GM. Kerkorian would therefore be able to sell off his remaining shares without filing with the SEC.

Analysts say that Kerkorian was unhappy with the outcome of GM's discussions with Renault-Nissan over GM joining the alliance - the talks broke up amid disagreement over compensation for GM for the considerable volume benefits it would bring the alliance.

Kerkorian was instrumental in bouncing GM's management into the talks in the summer. But GM's fortunes subsequently improved and the management was able to claim that the existing restructuring plan is on track.