GM's Share Offering Mostly Sold in North America

Thursday, 18 Nov 2010 09:17 AM

 

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If General Motors shares rise when they begin trading on Thursday, it will be investors in North America who stand to benefit the most, two sources familiar with the situation said on Wednesday.

GM's initial public offering was upsized primarily on demand from big North American mutual and pension fund investors, the sources said.

North American investors will account for more than 90 percent of the IPO, one source said.

GM pulled off the biggest initial public offering in U.S. history on Wednesday, raising $20.1 billion after pricing shares at the top of an increased range in response to huge investor demand.

GM sold 478 million common shares at $33 each, raising $15.77 billion, as well as $4.35 billion in preferred shares, more than the initially planned $4 billion. Including an option that would allow underwriters to sell more shares, expected to be exercised in coming days, GM looks set to raise $23.1 billion, making it the biggest IPO ever.

Sovereign wealth funds in the Middle East and Asia and other large international investors will account for less than 5 percent of the total GM offering including common and preferred shares and the overallotments, the second source said, adding that the proportion of GM shares allocated to overseas investors decreased as the IPO grew.

Several of the larger sovereign wealth funds were price-sensitive and decided not to invest when GM raised its IPO price range, the first source said.

GM earlier this week raised the price range for the common stock part of its offering to $32 to $33 per share from $26 to $29 per share. Five percent of the total GM IPO is equivalent to about $1.2 billion. The identities of individual investors, including sovereign wealth funds, are not public.

GM in October met with Singapore-based GIC and Temasek Holdings, Kuwait Investment Authority, Qatar Investment Authority and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, sources previously told Reuters. It is unclear which, if any, of those funds invested.

It is also unclear whether GM's China partner, state-owned SAIC Motor was able to move beyond a last-minute regulatory hurdle that threatened its plans to take a 1 percent stake in GM. GM is majority owned by the U.S. Treasury after a $50 billion U.S. taxpayer-funded bailout.

Potential investments by overseas entities have remained a touchy subject for government-owned GM throughout the IPO process because of the possibility for any such investment to trigger a political backlash.

The U.S. Treasury in September even went so far as to post guidance online that IPO investors would be sought primarily in North America and would include U.S. retail buyers, but that the investor pool would be large and diverse and investors would be sought "across multiple geographies."

In the final accounting, more than 20 percent of the IPO — or more than $3 billion worth of stock — will go to individual investors, one source said.

While it is typical to allocate about 20 percent of a U.S. IPO to retail investors, because of the size of the GM IPO, the dollar value of the GM retail placement is the largest ever, the source said.

GM took advantage of excess market demand to decrease the coupon on the preferred stock offering portion of its IPO to 4.75 percent and upsize it to $4.35 billion in order to further decrease its financial liabilities, the sources said.

The only proceeds GM will receive from the IPO will come from the preferred stock offering. It plans to use some of those proceeds to help fund its pension plans. Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Citi led the underwriters on the IPO.

Lazard and Boston Consulting Group served as advisers to the U.S. Treasury while Evercore Partners advised GM. GM shares are expected to begin trading on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges on Thursday.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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