WASHINGTON -- The General Motors bailout may have cost the government
$10 billion, but GM CEO Dan Akerson rejects any suggestion that the
company should compensate for the losses.
He says Treasury officials took the same risk assumed by anyone who purchases stock.
would not accept the premise that this was a bad deal," Akerson said
during a question-and-answer session at the National Press Club in
Washington. He also said the government's $49.5-billion aid to GM helped
save billions of dollars in tax revenue and government social services.
spoke in the wake of Treasury announcement last week that it sold its
last shares in GM and Akerson's decision to retire in January. The
automaker's board of directors named Mary Barra, the company's first
CEO, to succeed Akerson.
The speech also came as GM announced it
is investing $1.2-billion in five U.S. plants, which Akerson said is a
recognition that after 15 straight profitable quarters the automaker
can't rest on its success.
"We are in a capital-intensive business
that demands steady and significant investment," Akerson said, as he
discussed many of the changes that had to be made to the automaker's
corporate structure after exiting a "quick rinse" bankruptcy in 2009.
said it fell to him and his team to restore GM's good name, transform
operations and "put quality and the customer back at the center" of the
company's decision-making, a process he called "the biggest cultural
change we've been able to infuse into the new GM."
He said GM's
bloated and overly complex operations have been streamlined, products
are better and, with the government's help, a crushing debt was reduced.
"We've been trying to fix this airplane while in the air," he said.
said that GM repaid all the debt issued by the government beginning in
December 2008 when George W. Bush was still president and extending into
the first year of Barack Obama's presidency. He added that it was the
Treasury's decision -- though one he clearly supported -- to take an
ownership stake in the form of company shares.
Asked whether GM
should pay the difference between the amount the government provided the
company and the return from the sale of the shares, Akerson said the
"die was cast" by Treasury when it decided to take shares. For GM to
make up for any shortfall could result in lawsuits from other
shareholders. Those investors expect the company to resume paying a
dividend for the first time since it exited bankruptcy in July 2009.
He also defended the deal as one that saved millions of jobs, saying "net-net, it was a positive for the U.S. economy."
it will be up to Barra to continue GM's success. Monday's news that the
automaker is upgrading and expanding facdtories in Flint,
Detroit-Hamtramck and Romulus; as well as others in Toledo, Ohio, and
Bedford, Ind., was meant to demonstrate that momentum.
bring the four-year total of investments in our U.S. plants to more than
$10 billion," Akerson said. He said about 7,500 people already work in
those five plants and today's announcements will create or retain more
than 1,100 jobs.