General Motors Corp., which was 103 years old and was once America's largest company quietly died on Dec. 15, 2011. There were no ceremonies or anyone present to mark the company's passing.
General Motors Corp. was founded in 1908, acquired more than 20 other companies in its life, including Oldsmobile, Chevrolet, Opel, and Oakland. It would become the world's largest Automaker from 1931 until 2008 when it was eclipsed by Toyota. For much of the century it was the world's largest company, and at one point employed more than 600,000 people.
In its final years it was known as "Old GM", although it had been been officially renamed "Motors Liquidation Co. when it went into bankruptcy in 2008. "Old GM" became the bad assets and debts of General Motors Corp. Some assets were sold to startup automakers Tesla and Fisker. The remaining assets, including some 65 building spanning 14 states and 40 million square feet are being transferred to four trusts, which includes The Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Trust (owner of those 65 buildings).
In some ways the passing of Old GM is more symbolic than it is substance. General Motors Co., born from the bankruptcy, and free of the debt and bad assets still uses the same trademarks, brand names, and email addresses.
In other ways it was a painful end of an era. Once having over 1 million stockholders in the 1960s, Old GM canceled stock during bankruptcy and made significant cuts on pension plans recipients Bondholders were only paid part of what they were owed and GM walked from with many bills.
However, while the chapter closes on General Motors Corp. and new one is being written for General Motors Co. New GM earned 7.1 billion in the first nine months of 2011, and is a leaner, more efficient company than it was before.
"It's the end of an era," said David Cole, chairman emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research. "But new GM is a phoenix rising from the ashes."