NEW YORK (Reuters) - General Motors Co’s landmark initial public offering has already garnered $60 billion in orders, six times the amount it had planned to raise, in a sign of healthy investor interest for the massive automaker that was in desperate straits just over a year ago.
The robust demand for shares in GM, the American industrial icon which filed for bankruptcy in June 2009, underscores growing investor confidence that the auto industry has come through the punishing downturn of the past two years with sharply lower costs and higher profit potential.
The landmark IPO will likely price around the top end of the $26 to $29 per share range and the full overallotment option — additional shares underwriters can sell to help stabilize the stock after it begins trading — will likely be exercised, three people familiar with the matter said.
There is also “excess demand” for the $3 billion worth of preferred shares GM plans to sell, the sources said.
The strong response also bodes well for upcoming initial public offerings by other auto industry companies that restructured in bankruptcy, such as Chrysler and auto parts suppliers Delphi and Visteon, analysts said.
Just over a year after a politically unpopular $50 billion bailout that left the U.S. Treasury with a 61 percent stake, GM filed to sell about $10 billion worth of common stock and $3 billion of preferred shares. Such an offering would mark the second-biggest U.S. IPO ever after Visa Inc and one of the largest, globally.
The full overallotment could take the total IPO amount to as much as $15.65 billion. It would also cut the U.S. Treasury’s stake to just over 40 percent.
Pricing at the top end of the range would value GM at $43.6 billion based on 1.5 billion common shares. Assuming exercise of warrants that are in-the-money, the share count jumps to 1.8 billion and GM’s value rises to more than $52 billion.
For U.S. taxpayers to break even, GM needs a market value of roughly $70 billion.
GM is still accepting investor orders for shares in the IPO and is not expected to close the order books until early next week, the sources said. The sources did not have permission to speak publicly and declined to be named.
“There’s already a tremendous amount of interest because (GM) restructured themselves completely,” said Mirko Mikelic, a fixed-income portfolio manager at Fifth Third Asset Management, who plans to buy GM’s preferred shares.
GM is in the final stage of talks to sell equity to Chinese partner SAIC Motor Corp as part of the IPO and is likely to reach an agreement over the weekend, three sources said. The stake is expected to be less than $2 billion, two of the sources said.
Middle Eastern and Asian sovereign wealth funds have also committed to a combined $2 billion stake, the sources said.
In October, GM held meetings with Singapore-based GIC and Temasek Holdings, Kuwait Investment Authority, Qatar Investment Authority and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority as a precursor to the funds potentially buying into its IPO.
While selling a big chunk of shares to overseas state-backed investors such as SAIC could trigger a political backlash, GM’s advisers and underwriters have argued those investors could help provide long-term stability to the price of GM’s stock.
The U.S. Treasury will remain the largest shareholder after the IPO. The governments of Canada and Ontario and the UAW VEBA healthcare trust will also continue to hold shares, leaving some to wonder whether the IPO will allow GM to shed its “Government Motors” nickname.
“The market will obviously price all that in. Some investors are going to say the investment is still worth it now and others will say stay away. I think investors who stay away will probably end up regretting that,” said David Whiston, an analyst at Morningstar.
“I think at $26 to $29 the shares look very cheap. I would not be surprised to see the final pricing come up a little bit. My own valuation is currently $44 per share.”
Retail investors are expected to account for about 20 percent of the IPO, two sources said. There is currently retail demand for $2 billion to $3 billion worth of shares, one source said.
GM was initially planning to allocate as much as 30 percent of the IPO shares to retail investors but shifted some of that allocation to institutional investors, one source said.
GM’s IPO is expected to price on Wednesday. The shares are expected to start trading on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges on Thursday.
Reporting by Clare Baldwin and Soyoung Kim in New York and Philipp Halstrick in Frankfurt and Kevin Krolicki in Detroit, editing by Matthew Lewis and Gerald E. McCormick