Business - Ex-auto task force head optimistic about GM IPO

By Ken Thomas

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The former head of the Obama administration's auto task force said Monday that investment bankers underwriting General Motors Co.'s expected initial public stock offering are optimistic about the auto company's future as a public company.

Steve Rattner said following a Washington book event that Wall Street firms preparing for the deal "feel pretty good" about the upcoming GM IPO, which is expected to take place sometime in November.

"Something crazy could happen," Rattner said when asked about whether the offering could be derailed. "My sense from the underwriters is they feel pretty good about it."

GM has not yet announced a price range for the offering and has been waiting for U.S. regulators to allow its plan to sell shares to move forward.

Rattner said there had been some questions about the Detroit automaker's long-term relations with the United Auto Workers union, "whether that's really a stable relationship or not. But I think they're feeling very good about it."

The former auto industry czar has been promoting "Overhaul," his first-person account of the Obama administration's rescue of General Motors, Chrysler and the U.S. auto industry.

GM became a private company last year after filing for bankruptcy protection. The U.S. government became the largest shareholder when it gave the company $50 billion to help it survive. The government hopes to recoup that investment by selling its 61 percent stake over time.

Rattner called the automotive rescue "an incredibly historic time in American capitalism" and said the bailouts helped avert "an economic catastrophe."

He declined to discuss an ongoing investigation of an influence-peddling scandal involving New York state's $125 billion public pension fund. The Securities and Exchange Commission has been investigating whether Rattner and his private-equity firm Quadrangle Group paid kickbacks to get access to business from the fund.

Published: Wed, Oct 20, 2010


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