UPDATE 1-GM has repaid U.S., Canada $5.8 bln
* GM confirms pays Treasury, Export Development Canada
* Loan repayments a sign plan working: CEO in WSJ Op-Ed
* Repayments important step to reducing gov't stakes-CEO
DETROIT, April 20 (Reuters) - General Motors Co [GM.UL] has completed repayments totaling $5.8 billion to the U.S. and Canadian governments for loans that helped fund the U.S. automaker's bailout last year, the company said on Tuesday.
GM, which emerged from bankruptcy in July 2009, had pledged two weeks ago to repay the balance of loans from the U.S. Treasury and Export Development Canada "in full by June at the latest."
"Our ability to pay back these loans less than a year after emerging from bankruptcy is a sign that our plan for building a new GM is working," GM Chief Executive Ed Whitacre said on Tuesday in an opinion piece posted on the Wall Street Journal website.
The loans had outstanding balances of about $4.7 billion to the United States and $1.1 billion to Canada after accounting for exchange rates.
"It is also an important step toward eventually reducing the amount of equity the governments of the U.S., Canada and Ontario hold in our company," Whitacre said.
GM received about $50 billion of U.S. government support in its bailout, much of which was converted to common and preferred stock in GM unaffected by the loan repayments.
The U.S. Treasury holds a 60.8 percent stake in the common stock of GM, Export Development Canada 11.7 percent, the United Auto Workers healthcare trust 17.5 percent and old GM, now known as Motors Liquidation, holds 10 percent.
The automaker has been preparing for an eventual public offering that would allow the governments to reduce their stakes in GM and earlier in April released the first full accounting of its balance sheet as a restructured company.
GM reported a net loss of $4.3 billion for the period from its emergence from bankruptcy in July through the end of 2009, including a $3.4 billion net loss for the fourth quarter. (Reporting by David Bailey; editing by Carol Bishopric)