美國汽車製造商並非唯一受到金融危機影響的汽車企業。日本本田公司11月份的銷售額較前一年降低32%，豐田則降低34%。 同時瑞典政府也已經表示即使福特無法找到買家接手沃爾沃公司，瑞典政府也不會將沃爾沃收歸國有。 與此同時，白宮對出巨資拯救汽車業仍持謹慎態度，白宮發言人佩裡諾表示，當局的政策是，只會把納稅人的錢投入到不會崩潰的企業中去。
美 國眾議院議長佩洛西(Nancy Pelosi)週二晚間暗示﹐破產並不是陷入困境汽車製造商的好出路﹐破產重組所需要的漫長時間是其中原因之一。她還表示﹐國會是否出手救助將取決於對三 大汽車公司扭虧為盈計劃的評估。佩洛西說﹐民主黨領袖會協同布什政府、美國聯邦儲備委員會(Fed)以及美國政府問責局(GAO)共同評估這些扭虧計劃。
通用汽車總裁亨德森(Frederick 'Fritz' Henderson)在與記者舉行的電話會議上表示﹐該公司沒有考慮破產﹐正集中精力從華盛頓獲取救助。他說﹐公司沒有B計劃。
就 在通用汽車和福特汽車提交救助申請的細節之際﹐汽車業又傳出了另一波不利消息﹕汽車製造商估計美國11月份新車銷量下滑了大約35%。11月經季節因素調 整後折合成年率的銷量(SAAR)為1,050萬輛﹐低於10月份的1,080萬輛﹐更遠遠低於行業內認為健康的1,600萬輛。
通用汽車的銷量下滑41%﹐至154,877輛﹔福特汽車的銷量下滑30.6%﹐至123,222輛。豐田汽車(Toyota Motor)的銷量下滑34%﹐至130,307輛﹔本田汽車(Honda Motor)銷量下滑31.6%﹐至76,233輛。
福 特汽車公司在其33頁的情況介紹中說﹐雖然它並不急需聯邦救助資金﹐但希望獲得90億美元的信貸額度﹐以備本輪衰退如果比預期的更長、程度更深時應急之 用。該公司預計自己會在2011年前扭虧為盈﹐並表示自己將加速開發新型混合動力和電池驅動汽車﹐減少汽車經銷商的數量﹐並重新調整工廠的設備﹐以便在美 國生產目前能夠盈利的小型轎車。
通 用汽車計劃從本週開始與持有其債券的人和UAW展開談判﹐以圖將自己的債務負擔削減300億美元﹐即一半左右。它提出的建議將包括允許其債券的投資者將債 券轉換為該公司股票﹐並重組該公司欠UAW一個醫療保健信託基金的債務﹐該基金按計劃將從2010年起向通用汽車的退休員工支付福利金。
John D. Stoll / Matthew Dolan
Pursuing U.S. Aid, G.M. Accepts Need for Drastic Cuts
WASHINGTON — General Motors, increasingly desperate for a federal bailout to stave off financial collapse, told Congress on Tuesday that it was willing to drastically shrink every aspect of its operations to ensure its long-term survival.
What brands or models should U.S. automakers cut as they reorganize?
On the same day that the industry reported its worst sales month in 26 years, the three Detroit automakers delivered new business plans to lawmakers in the hope of winning support for $34 billion in federal loans.
Their combined loan request was substantially higher than the $25 billion that the three companies had initially hoped to get from Congress two weeks ago.
The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, said on Tuesday that she had spoken with President Bush by phone on Monday about the need to help the auto industry and that she believed some sort of rescue would be provided, either legislatively or by the Bush administration.
“I think it’s pretty clear that bankruptcy is not an option,” Ms. Pelosi said. But she said that the companies’ revamping plans must first pass muster among skeptical lawmakers who sent executives of the Big Three home from Washington empty-handed last month.
But G.M., the world’s largest automaker for decades, said Tuesday that it was in such dire straits that it would deeply cut jobs, factories, brands and executive pay as part of its plea to get $12 billion in federal loans and an additional $6 billion line of credit. G.M. also promised that it could be competitive on labor costs with Toyota by 2012.
G.M.’s president, Frederick A. Henderson, said the company would be insolvent if it did not receive federal assistance, including an infusion of $4 billion in cash before the end of the year.
“Absent support, frankly the company simply can’t fund its operations,” Mr. Henderson said in a call with reporters.
Chrysler, the smallest of the Detroit companies, is in similar difficulty, and asked Congress for a $7 billion loan before the end of December to ward off a potential bankruptcy.
Ford said in its plan that it could survive through 2009 with its current cash levels and by tapping its credit line with private banks, and that it could return to profitability by 2011. Even though it is better prepared for the downturn, Ford said it wanted $9 billion in loans to draw upon if necessary.
Ford’s chief executive, Alan R. Mulally, said the prospect of a failure of G.M. would cascade through the entire domestic auto industry and put millions of jobs at risk.
“We are very, very concerned, and that’s why we went with G.M. and Chrysler to Congress even though we think we have sufficient liquidity,” he said in an interview.
Together, they will try to persuade lawmakers to act quickly on the loan requests at a special lame-duck session of Congress next week.
There is only a narrow window for Congress to settle on any aid package for the automakers. Democratic leaders have said that they will not let the debate become a prolonged procedural fight, and they have little interest in keeping lawmakers in town past next Friday.
Senior Democratic aides say that if a deal cannot be sealed by then, they have little choice but to wait until after the new Congress is sworn in and, if there are still disagreements with the Bush administration, until after Barack Obama’s inauguration.
Congressional leaders were still reviewing the plans Tuesday. Ms. Pelosi said the companies had clear benchmarks that they needed to meet.
“We want to see a commitment to the future,” she said. “We want to see a restructuring of the approach, that they have a new business model, a new business plan. There has to be compensation reform.”
The White House so far has resisted calls for any new taxpayer aid for the automobile industry but instead has pushed for Congressional action to speed up $25 billion in federally subsidized loans that were authorized in an energy bill last year to encourage advanced fuel efficiency.
But in an apparent hint of flexibility in the Bush administration’s stance, Tony Fratto, the deputy White House press secretary, said on Tuesday that the White House would examine the proposals from the automakers.
“We’ll want to take a look at their plans in detail and see if they meet a credible test for viability,” Mr. Fratto said. “We’re pleased to see that everyone is now on board with what we’ve been saying for some time — that a credible plan for financial viability is necessary if we’re even to consider taxpayer assistance.”
The revelation that G.M. is on the verge of running out of cash will lend new urgency to the discussions.
While Mr. Henderson declined to say whether G.M. would file for bankruptcy protection if the loans were not approved, he made it clear that in a few weeks’ time, the automaker would fall below the minimum levels of cash it needed to operate.
“The first $4 billion is crucial,” he said. “We wouldn’t have asked for the $4 billion if we didn’t need it.”
To make its case for the loans, G.M. said it would make top-to-bottom cuts in its money-losing North American operations.
G.M. said it planned to focus on four core brands — Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC — and sell, eliminate or consolidate the Saturn, Saab, Hummer and Pontiac brands.
Despite having downsized its operations in the last three years, G.M. said it would cut more than 20 percent of its remaining jobs, shut nine factories, seek to renegotiate the terms of $66 billion in debt, and push to reopen contract talks with the United Automobile Workers to reduce labor costs.
The cutbacks will extend into the executive ranks as well. Mr. Wagoner and G.M.’s board members will reduce their compensation to $1 in 2009, and the company will sell its corporate jets. Despite widespread speculation about Mr. Wagoner’s job security, his board gave him another vote of support on Tuesday.
Mr. Wagoner is scheduled to drive to Washington in a Chevrolet Malibu hybrid vehicle, a concession to criticism from lawmakers who chided the Detroit executives for flying on private aircraft to last month’s hearings.
Mr. Mulally was en route to Washington on Tuesday in a Ford Escape hybrid, and Mr. Nardelli was set to leave drive in one of Chrysler’s hybrid S.U.V.’s.
The criticism from Congress about jet travel and big executive paychecks hit home, Mr. Mulally said during a telephone interview from the road, as he was traveling through the state of Ohio.
“Its all part of a learning experience for me,” he said. “I think it’s really important that I drive to Washington to show that Ford gets what Congress is saying.”
In their companies’ plans, both Mr. Mulally and Mr. Nardelli said they would take $1-a-year salaries if the loan packages were approved. Ford also said it would sell off its corporate aircraft.
In its plan, G.M. acknowledged “that it had made mistakes in the past,” but said its revamping costs since 2006 had consumed “a substantial portion of its resources.”
Still, the company said it would have been able to survive on its own if not for the continued deterioration of the United States vehicle market, because of the weakening economy and tight credit, which has made it difficult for consumers who do wander into dealerships to get loans.
“The company would not require government assistance were it not for the drastic collapse of the U.S. economy which has devastated the company’s current revenues and liquidity,” G.M. said.
G.M. said its plan would create a “new General Motors,” that will be significantly smaller and more competitive.
The company said it would sell off its Hummer and Saab brands, shrink its Pontiac brand into a niche vehicle division, and explore opportunities to sell, close or consolidate the Saturn brand that — when it was started in the 1980s — was supposed to be G.M.’s answer to the smaller, fuel-efficient cars sold by Japanese competitors.
G.M. also said it planned to reduce the number of salaried and hourly workers in the United States workers from 96,000 currently, to 65,000 to 75,000 by 2012. It will also reduce its North American factories from 47 to 36, and its dealers from 6,450 and 4,700.
While it moves to downsize its operations, G.M. is setting up tough negotiations ahead with its bondholders and the U.A.W.
Mr. Henderson said that G.M. would try to negotiate a reduction in its debt from $66 billion, to about $35 billion. While he would not elaborate, the company was expected to ask bondholders to take equity in exchange for reducing their payout on long-term bonds.
G.M. will also seek to cut its labor costs by reopening its contract with the U.A.W. Possible cost cuts in the contract include eliminating job security provisions, including the so-called jobs bank that pays idled workers when their plants close.
The union’s president, Ron Gettelfinger, is scheduled to meet Wednesday with top U.A.W. officials in Detroit to consider how to negotiate the concessions that G.M. says it needs to survive.
Both Ford and Chrysler will likely want similar concessions from the union.
Mr. Gettelfinger has said he is willing to go back to the bargaining table to help the companies survive the economic downturn.
In its request for $7 billion in loans, Chrysler said it would continue to cut costs through negotiations with its suppliers and unions. The company, which is privately owned by Cerberus Capital Management, expects to reduce its structural costs by another $4 billion next year.
In their plans, all three companies said they would accelerate their timetables to make more fuel-efficient vehicles, with Ford saying for the first time that it would bring out all-electric models within two years.
以通用汽車(General Motors)為例。對該公司唯一可行的商業計劃是大刀闊斧地重組。這也是德意志銀行(Deutsche Bank)汽車業分析師羅德•拉奇(Rod Lache)預想的結果。
UAW Concessions Are Critical to GM's Survival
To avoid bankruptcy, GM needs federal money—and a guarantee that the UAW will accept a weaker health-care plan
General Motors (GM) is in a real catch-22. The company has a credible plan to get government funding and transform the company. The problem is that the fastest way to make some of those changes would be a bankruptcy filing that could also ruin it.
For GM to really compete, the company needs to greatly reduce its debt burden (BusinessWeek.com, 11/25/08) and long-term health-care costs. Together, interest payments and retiree medical costs add up to roughly $8 billion a year in cash.
Bankruptcy Risks and Rewards
In a bankruptcy, GM could force the union and its retirees to accept less expensive health-care plans, which would slash its $47 billion long-term medical liability. Creditors would also take a hit. In court, GM could drop its debt burden of $42 billion by half or maybe less.
Outside of bankruptcy, it all has to be negotiated. It's no slam dunk that creditors will take a deep discount on their bonds and accept equity in the company. "Unless you have the power of the bankruptcy court, the union and creditors don't have to give anything," says Maryann N. Keller, an independent auto analyst who is on the boards of Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group (DTG) and car dealer chain Lithia Motors (LAD).
But going into bankruptcy poses the huge risk that consumers will simply shun GM's cars. Then revenue falls so fast that even court protection won't be enough. "I firmly believe that bankruptcy would be a disaster," says George M. C. Fisher, the lead director on GM's board. "You can't restructure fast enough to handle dramatic drops in market share."
Signs say that Fisher, a senior adviser at buyout firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, is right. Already GM has seen its sales drop at a rate of more than 40% for the last two months, which is a steeper decline than most other carmakers have endured. Says HIS Global Insight analyst John Wolkonowicz: "The bad press is already hurting sales."
That's why it will be vital that all of the parties involved put aside self-interest and take big concessions.
Fisher said in an interview that GM already is working on a plan to get creditors to take a haircut on their debt holdings. In the GM's plan filed with Congress on Dec. 2, the company calls for reducing its total debt and long-term liabilities from $63 billion to $30 billion. That's essential to reducing further calls on its cash and reducing the annual $3 billion GM currently pays in interest.
GM wants to convert some of that debt to equity, which forces bondholders to gamble on a GM recovery by taking stock. But even Fisher, who calls himself an optimist, says it won't be easy to do. "That is a big job and has yet to be done," he said. "There's no silver bullet. It will be a lot of work."
But creditors may prefer to hold their bonds and gamble that they will do better than taking stock. Or they could even see if they can get a better deal in bankruptcy court. Very little of GM's debt is secured, so unsecured creditors will have a real voice in bankruptcy proceedings, says Keller.
Getting the union to budge might be easier. United Auto Workers' President Ron Gettelfinger said on Dec. 3 that the union is willing to make other concessions. Health care may have to be one of them, but Gettelfinger declines to say what GM and the union will be negotiating.
Last year, the UAW agreed to take over medical benefits in 2010 (BusinessWeek.com, 9/26/07). GM and the other automakers will give the union enough cash to cover 68% of the liability, which in GM's case is $32 billion. That will start an independent Voluntary Employee Benefits Assn., or VEBA, which the union will use to cover medical plans for the workers.
GM has already set aside a big chunk of the money, but has to give $7 billion in early 2010. Gettelfinger says he will let GM, Ford Motor (F), and Chrysler defer those payments. But they are still going to come due.
One solution is for union workers to accept a weaker health-care plan. Right now, UAW workers and retirees have a great plan. They pay in premiums and co-pays about 5% of their annual medical costs, according to the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. GM picks up the rest. Union workers in other industries pay about 30% of their costs.
If the UAW accepted a greater share of the costs, GM's long-term liability (that $47 billion) would shrink. As a result, GM, Ford, and Chrysler would be required to put less money into the VEBA trusts. It would work the same way as reducing long-term debt payments.
But the UAW has to play ball. Gettelfinger didn't say he would make bigger health-care concessions. But he indicated a willingness to alter the UAW's contract. "We will immediately engage our bargaining committees to review our agreements," Gettelfinger told the press on Dec. 3. "We will consider modifications."
To really make GM competitive, the union may have to consider some bigger moves than it has already made. Fisher says the union appears game. "I don't intend to be an apologist for the union, but in the past couple of years the union has worked pretty well with management," Fisher said. "The world has changed. Now we and they have to make sacrifices. Everything is on the table."
A Bridge to Solvency
Fisher also said that even if there is a bridge loan from Congress, the UAW, GM, and other constituents may have to revisit the plan to keep the company's cash position moving toward break-even should the car market turn even more sour.
One thing is certain: GM needs a bridge loan that gets the company at least into late January when the new Administration gets into the White House. President-elect Barack Obama has said he wants to help Detroit, and there is a widespread feeling among members of both parties that the issue should wait until he assumes office. That would give Congress time to draft a response more thoughtful than what would come out of a rushed, lame-duck session. Says Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.): "Let's get a small amount of money needed for transition to get the companies into the New Year, and then we can build a structure of oversight over the larger necessary package."
It appears likely that Congress will give GM and Chrysler enough money to make it until the inauguration. Then the new President could use Treasury funds—instead of the Energy Dept. money earmarked for fuel-economy improvements—to fund a long-term lending plan.
For GM's sake, something close to that has to happen. Otherwise, it's bankruptcy. GM doesn't have a plan B to get the company into next year. "If we don't get help immediately," Fisher says, "there won't be much left for the Obama Administration to work with."