GM Works to Cut Spending in Light of Economy and Weak Auto Sales
General Motors announced today announced it is taking further steps to adapt its business to rapidly changing market conditions, marked by the weak U.S. economy, record high fuel prices, shifts in consumer vehicle preferences and the lowest U.S. industry sales volumes in a decade.
"We are responding aggressively to the challenges of today's U.S. auto market," says GM Chairman and CEO, Rick Wagoner. "We will continue to take the steps necessary to align our business structure with the lower vehicle sales volumes and shifts in sales mix. We remain committed to bringing to market great products that target changing consumer preferences for more fuel-efficient vehicles."
At the end of the first quarter 2008, GM had liquidity of $23.9 billion, with access to U.S. credit facilities of an additional $7 billion. While the company has ample liquidity to meet its 2008 funding requirements, it is taking additional measures to bolster liquidity to protect against a prolonged U.S. downturn, according to a press release issued by the company this morning. The actions include a combination of operating and related actions, as well as asset sales and capital market activities. The cumulative impact on cash through 2009 is projected to be approximately $15 billion.
Through a number of internal operating changes and other actions, GM expects to generate approximately $10 billion of cumulative cash improvements by the end of 2009, including the following:
These benefit changes, salaried headcount reductions and other related savings will result in an estimated reduction in cash costs of more than 20 percent, or $1.5 billion in 2009, according to GM.
Additional structural cost reductions of approximately $2.5 billion are expected in GM North America (GMNA), including a reduction in truck capacity by 300,000 units by the end of 2009.
In addition, company officials say GM will reduce and consolidate sales and marketing budgets, with a focus on protecting launch products and brand advertising.
GM is revising its capital spending plan and reducing approximately $1.5 billion in expenditures versus prior plans. Capital expenditures are now estimated to total $7 billion in 2009 versus prior plans of $8.5 billion (these figures do not include the $1 billion in capital spending planned in both 2008 and 2009 in China, which is self-funded by the GM joint ventures, to support growth in that market). A major part of the reductions is related to the delay of the next-generation large pickup and SUV program, as well as V-8 engine development and associated capacity.
Spending for non-product programs will also be significantly reduced, while powertrain spending will be increased to support the development of alternative propulsion and fuel economy technologies and small displacement engines. The revised 2009 capital spending plan is higher than the average capital expenditures in 2005-2007, excluding large pickup and SUV-related spending. Excluding China, GM expects capital expenditures to run in the $7-7.5 billion range beyond 2009, with the following actions planned:
In addition to the operating changes and other actions, GM expects to raise additional liquidity of $4-7 billion through asset sales and financing activities, such as these:
"The actions announced today are difficult decisions, but necessary to respond to the current auto market conditions," said Wagoner. "Even under conservative planning scenarios, GM is well-positioned to withstand the U.S. market downturn and emerge a stronger company. We have a solid position in the rapidly growing emerging markets, a global operating framework that allows us to respond to changes in the U.S. market, a commitment to technology leadership, and an ever stronger and competitive product line-up."
Officials at PPG Industries, which is believed to be one of GM's largest auto glass suppliers, were unavailable for comment today. However, with the recent announcement that PPG plans to sell its auto glass business and services unit to Kohlberg & Co. LLC, the effects on the company of GM's cutbacks likely will be reduced.
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