A recent Wall Street Journal piece (sub. req.) by John D. Stoll, Lee Hawkins Jr. and Neal E. Boudette delivers a great roundup of recent events surrounding General Motors (NYSE:GM). I've noticed over the months that Lee Hawkins in particular does a standout job reporting on GM, whether writing as a contributor or filing stories solo.
This paragraph -- halfway down the article -- stands out:
Mr. Wagoner has the support of several board members and top management at the company, but a handful of board members, including Mr. York, have grown impatient with the company's steady loss of market share and are disappointed with managerial missteps, including accounting irregularities being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
I'd be interested to know which GM board members -- and how many -- have been persuaded by Jerry York (and by extension, Kirk Kerkorian).
If anyone knows or has seen any solid reporting naming names, post a comment or shoot me an email.
If no such reporting yet exists, perhaps we'll see some shortly.
The Wall Street Journal piece continues with this towards the bottom of the article:
Charles Lemonides, chief investment officer of ValueWorks LLC, which owns GM stock, said GM can't afford to get distracted. "I think companies in this situation are well served sticking to the basics ... not engaging in financial engineering as a way to find a silver bullet." He said it is hard to rationalize a massive three-pronged alliance that includes GM. "It's not like GM does not have enough scale," the investor said. "They operate all over the world."
I also saw a quote from another GM shareholder yesterday pretty much saying the same thing, in that it was cool on the proposed alliance with Nissan and Renault. I can't recall the name of that particular institution offhand, but I do remember the report stated they were one of the company's top 50 shareholders.
The WSJ article doesn't report where ValueWorks ranks in GM stock ownership.
I'm wondering if the upcoming days will reveal more opinions about the proposed alliance from even more GM shareholders. Especially since the top six shareholders account for 63.5% of the company.
But I doubt the top six will say too much publicly for now. Especially Mason Hawkins and Staley Cates. The Southeastern Asset Management folks are most likely to offer their thoughts to GM management privately.
And remember, their Longleaf International Fund owns Renault stock. Other accounts at Southeastern may own even more. So these guys and gals probably have useful insight into the pluses and minuses of any alliance.
P.S. Speaking of news reports on the proposed alliance. I've seen at least a couple speculating on Kerkorian gaining control of GM. The idea is this: If the alliance goes through, Nissan/Renault will own 20% of GM stock, adding Tracinda's 9.9% gives Kerkorian almost 30% of GM. The speculation is that that could give Kerkorian effective control of the company.
But he can get that NOW if -- if -- he can swing enough major shareholders to go along with him. And 63.5% packs a lot more punch than 30%.