David Kirkpatrick

October 23, 2009

TARP recipients to get White House mandated pay cut

I’m no fan of the government telling a business how much it’s going to pay executives, but you have to say the major TARP recipients brought this on themselves. After the forced bailout (most of these players had no choice but to go along with the bailout) the situation became no longer business as usual. Somehow that point was lost on the C-level at Citigroup, BoA, GM, Chrysler, GMAC, Chrysler Financial, and especially AIG. The end result? The pay packages of 175 top executives are going to start seeing much lighter pay checks.

Cue an entire chorus of nanoscale violins.

From the link:

The Obama administration will soon order the nation’s biggest bailed-out companies to drastically cut the pay packages of 175 top executives, a senior administration official confirmed to CNN Wednesday.

Kenneth Feinberg, who was named the White House’s pay czar in June, will demand that each of the seven largest bailout recipients lower the total compensation for their top 25 highest paid employees by 50%, on average, the official told CNN.

And here’s the big number:

Under the plan, which is expected to be officially released by the Treasury Department next week, annual salaries for executives at those seven firms are expected to fall 90%, on average, the official said.

May 15, 2009

Car companies dumping dealerships

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:49 am

In a very necessary move from both General Motors and Chrysler — they each have many, many more dealerships than the Japanese manufacturers — the number of dealerships out there is being cut. The exact numbers differ depending on the source, but in the near future there will be fewer GM and Chrysler lots out there.

From the link:

The next auto businesses on the chopping block will be 2,600 General Motors dealerships.GM Chief Executive Fritz Henderson said Monday that the company would by the end of the week start notifying dealerships it wants to eliminate over the course of the next year. The company said last month that it planned to eventually eliminate 42% of its 6,250 dealer locations, which employ more than 300,000 workers among them.

On Thursday, Chrysler LLC’s announced that it is dropping nearly 800 Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep dealers, or about a quarter of its network, as part of its bankruptcy restructuring.

GM (GM, Fortune 500) is not yet in bankruptcy court, although Henderson has said such a filing is “probable.” The company has until the end of the month to win agreement from creditors, unions and dealerships on a turnaround plan or the Treasury Department, which has been bankrolling GM’s ongoing losses, has said it will force the company to file for bankruptcy.

May 11, 2009

GM closer to Chapter 11

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:06 pm

Looks like General Motors will be declaring bankruptcy at some point. Despite all the noise to the contrary, this is — and has been for a while — the only real solution to what is going on in the Rust Belt. If done correctly GM will reemerge much leaner and ready to do business in today’s world. It’s been playing by its own unsustainable rules since the 80s.

From the link:

To remake itself outside of court, GM must persuade bondholders to swap $27 billion in debt for 10 percent of its risky stock. On top of that, the automaker must work out deals with its union, announce factory closures, cut or sell brands and force hundreds of dealers out of business — all in three weeks.

“I just don’t see how it’s possible, given all of the pieces,” said Stephen J. Lubben, a professor at Seton Hall University School of Law who specializes in bankruptcy.

GM, which is living on $15.4 billion in federal aid, faces a June 1 government deadline to complete its restructuring plan. If it can’t finish in time, the company will follow Detroit competitor Chrysler LLC into bankruptcy protection.

Although company executives said last week they would still prefer to restructure out of court, experts say all GM is doing now is lining up majorities of stakeholders to make its court-supervised reorganization move more quickly.

“If we need to pursue bankruptcy, we will make sure that we do it in an expeditious fashion. The exact strategies I’m not getting into today, but we’ll be ready to go if that’s required,” CEO Fritz Henderson said last week.

April 29, 2009

Chrysler to file Chapter 11

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:12 pm

It’s not totally done, but looks immanent. So Chrysler wins the dubious distinction of being the first of the big three to declare bankruptcy.

From the link:

Last-minute efforts by the Treasury Department to win over recalcitrant Chrysler debtholders failed Wednesday night, setting up a near-certain bankruptcy filing by the American automaker, according to people briefed on the talks.

Barring an agreement, which looked increasingly difficult, Chrysler was expected to seek Chapter 11 protection on Thursday, most likely in New York, these people said.

Update 4/30/09 — It’s done. More on the filing here and here.

April 1, 2009

Peeking into the looming GM bankruptcy

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:04 pm

It ain’t over ’til it’s over, but it looks more and more likely that Genernal Motors and Chrysler will both do some flavor of bankruptcy protection in the coming months. Particularly since it seems that’s the preferred outcome at the White House.

Here’s some tea leaf reading on the GM version:

A possible bankruptcy plan being discussed for General Motors (GM.N) includes quickly forming a new company of the automaker’s most profitable parts, while a group of other units would remain under bankruptcy protection for a longer period, a source familiar with the plans told Reuters on Tuesday.

GM also would seek to have a new deal in place with the United Auto Workers union prior to any bankruptcy filing, the source said.

GM warned earlier on Tuesday that there is a rising chance it could file for bankruptcy by June, as the company has 60 days to reach deeper concessions with bondholders and unions after its previous restructuring plan was rejected by the U.S. government as insufficient.

While the automakers would still prefer to avoid bankruptcy, advisers to both GM and Chrysler LLC have been working to prepare for potential bankruptcy filings that would aim to preserve, or sell off, the best parts of the companies.

Under the plans being considered, GM would seek to quickly move its most profitable units into a new company separate from its other units in the early days of the bankruptcy filing, said the source who asked to remain anonymous because the person was not authorized to speak to the media.

The aim would be to show consumers, taxpayers, and the government that the new GM can survive and compete in the autos sector as a viable company, the source said.

March 3, 2009

Auto sales way down

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:43 pm

The Ru, st Belt just keeps taking body blows and crushing shots to the jaw. It’s hard to see how these companies can remain afloat without the government simply stepping in and taking over for the time being. Is GM too big to fail? Ford? Is the auto part supply chain so weak that if any of the onetime “big three” collapse, the whole system breaks down?

We may find out before long. Talking to a group of businessmen last night, the general consensus on the unemployment aspect of this financial crisis is the rate will slow, but rising unemployment will likely continue unabated through the end of 2010 if not longer.

From the link:

The three largest automakers, including Toyota, each said their sales declined at least 40 percent from February 2008.

Sales were down 53 percent at General Motors, 48 percent at the Ford Motor Company and 40 percent at Toyota. Chrysler sales fell 44 percent.

Honda reported a 38 percent drop, while Nissan said its sales fell 37 percent.

“The February numbers are clearly a step down from where we’d been running the last four months,” said Michael C. DiGiovanni, G.M.’s chief sales analyst. “It’s unsettling to our business. These are obviously unsustainable levels which are causing almost every auto manufacturer across the world to look for government aid.”

G.M., of course, has gotten $13.4 billion from the federal government to help it avoid seeking bankruptcy protection, while Chrysler, which will report its sales later Tuesday, has received $4 billion.

January 6, 2009

Toyota turns the lights off for 11 days

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:00 pm

GM and Chrysler may have shut factories down this month to save money and prep for an uncertain future. Toyota has followed-suit because of slumping sales.

The credit crunch hit automakers hard, and now that hard times are settling in it’s an easy bet the market for new cars will become very soft. Not many people are going to trade-in a working car, and less likely still, a paid-off car under this economic climate.

From the link:

Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) is to halt production at its Japanese plants for 11 days in February and March as a sharp slide in U.S. sales has left dealers’ lots full of unsold cars.

A 37 percent slump in December sales in Toyota’s biggest market was its sharpest fall in more than a quarter of a century and worse than declines at struggling U.S. rivals General Motors (GM.N) and Ford Motor (F.N).

“I never expected the crisis to spread this fast and leave this deep a scar,” Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe told reporters at a Tokyo event hosted by Japan‘s top business lobbies.

Toyota had already announced a three-day production halt for this month at its 12 directly operated Japanese plants — four car assembly plants and eight for engines, transmissions and other components.

A sweeping suspension of domestic production is almost unprecedented. In 1993, Toyota halted output for one day as a strong yen hammered sales.

Japanese-built cars make up around 40 percent of Toyota’s sales in the United States, where foreign-made cars and trucks have been piling up at ports and dealers’ yards.

December 23, 2008

If the UAW won’t deal let the Puny Two crater

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:55 pm

The US auto industry has a lot of problems and the UAW is right up there.

A line in the sand? More like an unemployment line.

From the link:

If General Motors (GM) and Chrysler executives want federal loans beyond the initial $17.4 billion provided by President Bush and the Treasury Dept. on Dec. 19, they will need to wring concessions from the United Auto Workers. And that means dealing with Ron Gettelfinger.

As became clear in mid-December, Gettelfinger, the 64-year-old union president, is no pushover. With the fate of an industry hanging in the balance, he refused to back down when Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) demanded that the UAW commit to cutting wages to secure a bailout of Detroit’s Big Three. Gettelfinger’s stance—critics call it intransigence—pushed a government rescue to the brink until the Bush Administration stepped in.

But even after the Administration released funds for GM and Chrysler, Gettelfinger bristled at the labor concessions that Treasury is insisting on. In response to the Administration’s demands for wage and benefits cuts, he said: “We are disappointed that he [Bush] has added unfair conditions singling out workers.” Gettlefinger even said he would go to the Obama Administration—which promises to be more labor-friendly—to work out a deal.

December 22, 2008

Is the auto bailout throwing good money after bad?

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:29 pm

Probably.

From the link:

General Motors and Chrysler LLC are finally getting the money they need to avoid an imminent collapse. But will the bailout actually get them back on the road to profits?

The $13.4 billion in federal loans announced by President Bush Friday morning should be enough to get the automakers through the next few months. Then the fate of Detroit will become a problem for President-elect Obama and the newly-elected, much more Democratic Congress to tackle.

But this lifeline won’t solve the immediate problems dogging the entire U.S. auto industry. Tight credit and a weakening U.S. economy have left industrywide auto sales at their weakest point in 26 years.

Chrysler’s North American production is essentially shutting down for at least a month at the end of the day Friday due to weak demand for its vehicles. The North American assembly lines at GM (GM, Fortune 500) will be closed for the entire month of January.

Ford Motor (F, Fortune 500), which benefits from having more cash on hand than its U.S. rivals, only looks good by comparison. It is keeping 10 of its 15 assembly lines idle one week longer than the normal holiday shutdown.

December 19, 2008

Bush bails automakers

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:06 am

For now Chrysler and General Motors stave off bankruptcy. Their alms come from the $700 billion set aside for the financial bailout.

From the link:

President Bush announced a rescue plan for General Motors and Chrysler LLC Friday morning that will make $13.4 billion in federal loans available almost immediately.

A senior administration official briefing reporters said he expects that GM (GM, Fortune 500) and Chrysler LLC will be signing the loan papers to access the cash later Friday morning.

December 18, 2008

Chrysler stops all production

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:19 pm

Hot on the heels of GM’s decision to “temporarily” shut down 20 plants, Chrysler announces a similar plan. Of course not to be outdone by GM, the automaker is going to stop all production for at least an entire month starting this week.

If these Puny Two are playing chicken with legislators who have yet to vote in an auto industry bailout package, I’d say that game might be deadly. Congress wants to bail the auto makers out, but the public is sick of this corporate socialism. The votes may just not be there because incumbents fear retaliation at the ballot box for a “yea” bailout vote.

From the link:

Chrysler is the third of the Big Three automakers to suspend operations for January. Last week, General Motors announced it was idling 30% of its North American manufacturing capacity during the first quarter of 2009 in response to deteriorating market conditions. That move will take 250,000 vehicles out of production. On Wednesday, a Ford spokeswoman confirmed for CNN that the automaker is adding a week to its normal two-week seasonal shutdown at a number of its plants.

Chrysler would not say how many fewer vehicles would be produced because of this shutdown. A total of 46,000 employees will be affected. They will be paid during the time off through a combination of state unemployment benefits and Chrysler contributions, but they will not receive the full amount of their working pay, a Chrysler spokesman said.

December 12, 2008

Is Ford the Big One?

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:26 pm

The Rust Belt bailout failed in the Senate. Looks like the union scuttled the deal. General Motors and Chrysler are prepping for bankruptcy.

From the link:

Last-ditch efforts to forge an agreement to rescue the U.S. automakers fell apart late Thursday, Dec. 11, when union officials refused fast and deep cuts in worker pay. The collapse created the real possibility that General Motors (GM) and Chrysler will face bankruptcy in a matter of weeks, unless the Treasury Dept. acts to prevent it.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor Thursday night that a refusal of the United Auto Workers, headed by Ron Gettelfinger, to agree to lower wages and benefits at parity with workers at Toyota (TM) and Honda (HMC) in the U.S. by a date certain in 2009 was the last sticking point preventing Republicans from supporting the bill.

November 21, 2008

Dems want to bail out the Big Three

I guess the threat of a Chinese takeover of the US auto industry is going to drive more corporate socialism. Looks like elected Democrats want to fork over cash to the failing businesses.

Isn’t it time someone pointed out no one — no one — has any clue what is happening financially right now? Our treasure is being spilled and spent in the Middle East and now on Wall Street and the Rust(ed out) Belt. Main Street will eventually turn to garbage can fires and gunplay if this keeps up.

From the second link:

Democratic congressional leaders, seeking to salvage a bailout of the Big Three automakers, demanded executives provide a business survival plan in exchange for their support of up to $25 billion in loans.

The ultimatum came on Thursday after the Democratic leaders failed to persuade the White House and congressional Republicans to use part of a $700 billion financial rescue fund to prop up the auto industry.

Hanging in the balance is the future of General Motors, Ford Motor and Chrysler LLC, whose losses have mounted during a severe economic downturn that has prompted Americans to largely stop buying cars.

Shares of GM and Ford rebounded from multi-decade lows as the developments in Washington kept bailout hopes alive.

While many lawmakers are anxious to see the companies survive, Republicans have been more wary of whether the money would really help, and Democrats have been more inclined to be generous to the huge employers of unionized labor.

Democratic leaders acknowledged on Thursday a growing public resentment over government bailouts of U.S. business in slowing the automakers’ demands, saying they will take a look after the auto industry provides a roadmap to its survival.

November 20, 2008

Big Three about to be Big Red?

Maybe so. Well at least two of the three.

From the link:

Chinese carmakers SAIC and Dongfeng have plans to acquire GM and Chrysler, China’s 21st Century Business Herald reports today. [A National Enquirer the paper is not. It is one of China’s leading business newspapers, with a daily readership over three million.] The paper cites a senior official of China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology– the state regulator of China’s auto industry– who dropped the hint that “the auto manufacturing giants in China, such as Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) and Dongfeng Motor Corporation, have the capability and intention to buy some assets of the two crisis-plagued American automakers.” These hints are very often followed with quick action in the Middle Kingdom. The hints were dropped just a few days after the same Chinese government gave its auto makers the go-ahead to invest abroad. And why would they do that?

 

A take-over of a large  overseas auto maker would fit perfectly into China’s plans. As reported before, China has realized that its export chances are slim without unfettered access to foreign technology. The brand cachet of Chinese cars abroad is, shall we say, challenged. The Chinese could easily export Made-in-China VWs, Toyotas, Buicks. If their joint venture partner would let them. The solution: Buy the joint venture partner. Especially, when he’s in deep trouble.

At current market valuations (GM is worth less than Mattel) the Chinese government can afford to buy GM with petty cash. Even a hundred billion $ would barely dent China’s more than $2t in currency reserves. For nobody in the world would buying GM and (while they are at it) Chrysler make more sense than for the Chinese. Overlap? What overlap? They would gain instant access to the world’s markets with accepted brands, and proven technology.

October 24, 2008

I don’t like all the corporate handouts …

… going around, and I certainly don’t like the fact automakers are right there on hands-and-knees, but the issue of auto loans to consumers is a real problem (I blogged on that issue here) so this proposal might not be all that bad.

From the second link:

Michigan’s Congressional delegation is urging the Treasury secretary and the Federal Reserve chairman to use their authority as part of the $700 billion bailout package to help more consumers obtain car loans, warning that the tightened credit markets were endangering millions of jobs.

The effort, led by Representatives John D. Dingell, a Democrat, and Fred Upton, a Republican, comes amid plunging vehicle sales as auto lenders struggle to find financing.

 

In addition, two of Detroit’s automakers, General Motors and Chrysler, are considering a merger to combine their cash reserves and cut costs.

”In this current economic environment, it is imperative that the government ensures that liquidity is restored so that the U.S. auto industry is able to function until normalcy is restored to credit markets,” the lawmakers say in a draft of a letter to the Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., and the Fed chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, that was obtained by The New York Times.

Automakers say that a lack of financing has compounded a weakened economy and kept consumers out of showrooms. The industry says that more than 90 percent of new-vehicle purchases are financed.

As of late Wednesday, all but three of Michigan’s 17-member delegation had signed the letter, and the others are expected to join as well, according to a person involved in the effort, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the letter was not intended to become public until Thursday.