Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bang it goes again?

In the thunderous collapse of GM, one detail seems to have gone almost unnoticed. The old GM's US pension fund, with its near-$100bn of liabilities, is being transferred lock, stock and barrel to the new entity. As a direct result, the new GM could be bankrupt again in a very few years. GM's US fund is, of course, in deficit, but the company has made no contributions since 2003. Back then, it put in $18.5bn, which it raised through a bond issue. Since this counted as a pre-payment, GM is not obliged to pay any more for the next year or two. However, it will then have to start plugging the gap, under the new rules set down by the Pension Protection Act of 2006. This, Mr Ralfe calculates, would involve diverting $1bn to $2bn annually from operating cash flows. If GM cannot do that, bang it goes again. [Source: Financial Times]

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