U.S. sold $489.9 million in GM shares in February
DETROIT (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Treasury, which is exiting its ownership stake in General Motors, accelerated its sell-down of the automaker in February, saying it received $489.9 million in proceeds from the sale of common shares. The government disclosed the trading results Monday in its monthly report to Congress on the status of the Troubled Asset Relief Program. A similar report last month said the Treasury received $156.4 million from selling GM shares in January. The number of GM shares sold and average price per share will be disclosed when each pre-arranged trading plan is completed, the report said. The United States invested about $50 billion in GM, the biggest portion of an auto industry bailout that was a centerpiece of President Barack Obama's first term. The investment drew criticism from Republican officials and GM received the label "Government Motors" that CEO Dan Akerson now is trying to shed. "The story is moving on at GM," Matthew Stover, an analyst with Guggenheim Securities LLC in Boston, who has a neutral rating on the shares. "They have to get on with the business of growing and moving past the crisis period, and one of the important pieces of all that is the government leaving the business." GM in December purchased 200 million of its shares for $5.5 billion from the Treasury, moving the government a step closer to ending the auto bailout. After that transaction, the Treasury was left holding about 300 million shares, or 19 percent on a fully diluted basis and planned to sell its entire holding within 15 months. GM shares have climbed 11 percent since Dec. 18, the day before the company disclosed the share purchase from Treasury, through Monday. The Standard and Poor's 500 Index increased 7.6 percent during that span. GM shares closed Tuesday at $28.37, up 6 cents from Monday's close, on the New York Stock Exchange . Akerson, 64, took command of GM in September 2010, overseeing the final stages of the company's initial public offering in November of that year. He is trying to boost GM's profit margins, regain market share in the United States and break even in Europe by mid-decade as it competes with Toyota Motor Corp. and Volkswagen AG for global auto sales leadership.