The Detroit News has reported that General Motors Corporation, the icon of American industrial power, has died at 103 years old. The final gasp came after shuttering Saturn, Pontiac, Hummer and Saab, closing 1700 dealerships and terminating thousands of workers.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Gerber confirmed the company’s liquidation plan in March, and set Dec. 15 as the deadline for it to go out of business. Known in the end simply as “Old GM” but officially renamed Motors Liquidation Co., it is survived by General Motors Company, born after the bankruptcy filing in 2009.
The Old GM’s remaining assets were transferred to the new company along with a 49.5 billion dollar government bailout. The cost to GM was $120 million with 400 lawyers working 70,000 hours to finalize the bankruptcy. It sold factories to Tesla and Fisker, but it could take years to offload the rest of the real estate holdings of the Old GM.
In 1955, GM once employed over 600,000 people, the equivalent of the populations of Delaware and Nevada at the time. It was also the first company to make a billion dollars in one year and as recently as 1997, GM was larger that Microsoft, Dow Chemical, Boeing and Coca-Cola combined.
Now that GM is lean, mean and unencumbered by its old industrial footprint and legacy costs, let’s hope it can return to its former glory. Its off to a good start as it made 7.1 billion dollars in the first 9 months of this year.