GM Said to Study Shedding Saturn, Saab, Pontiac to Win U.S. Aid

GMIn an attempt to save money and reduce overlap, General Motors Corp, the biggest US automaker, is studying whether to shed its Saturn, Saab and Pontiac brands in addition to Hummer. The automaker is struggling to avoid running out of operating cash by year's end - it said on November 7 it may be short of the $11 billion minimum in cash needed to pay monthly bills.

Bloomberg reports that Pontiac's sales peaked in 1978 and are down 21% this year compared to an industry wide 15% decline. Saturn's sales peaked in 1994 and are down 19% this year, while Saab sales peaked in 2003 at roughly 48K units and declined 31% this year.

Declines across GM's brands are adding to losses of almost $73 billion since the end of 2004. After burning through $6.9 billion in cash last quarter, GM said that it had $16.2 billion as of September 30. The company has said a bankruptcy filing would be a "disaster."

The plan under consideration is aimed at cutting costs to win $12 billion in government loans. Members of Congress, such as Republican Senator Bob Corker Jr. of Tennessee, have suggested the automakers might benefit from being able to shed some of their dealers.

Though a GM spokesman, Steve Harris, declined to comment on what may be included in the Detroit-based automaker's plan, people familiar with the proceedings said the directors are scheduled to review a proposal November 30 and December 1. The automaker will prepare a 10- to 12-page public document and a private, more detailed plan of about 80 pages with background material.

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