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GM takes over the NYSE


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GM takes over the NYSE

David Shepardson / Detroit News Washington Bureau

New York- Before General Motors could go public, it had one last thing to get right: parking six cars.

The front of the New York Stock Exchange, where GM had traded as the largest company in America for 75 years before its bankruptcy last year, was covered in a giant General Motors sign.

Before 7 a.m. in cool, clear fall weather, GM employees practiced a half-dozen times driving a fleet of six GM cars to the front of the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street: a Chevrolet Volt, Chevrolet Camaro, Buick Regal, Chevrolet Cruze, Cadillac CTS and GMC 2500 pickup. The drive was for a photo-op, held after GM's stock opened.

GM CEO Dan Akerson also arrived early at NYSE through a back entrance, spending nearly two hours shuttling between TV interviews.

The 17-member GM team led by Akerson had an 8:45 a.m. breakfast in the exchange boardroom with NYSE CEO Duncan Niederauer, who told him it was a great day for America.

"A lot of people would have bet against GM and the NYSE a couple of years ago and now we both go into 2011 ready to rock and roll," Niederauer told The News. GM is a "an iconic company that took a few missteps that is now well on the road to recovery."

United Auto Workers President Bob King flew to New York late Wednesday. He ditched his customary UAW jacket for a suit and tie today, calling this "the birth of the new General Motors."

Akerson rang the bell to signal the start of trading, seconds before 9:30 a.m. After the bell rang, the sounds of a Camaro SS engine roared through loudspeakers - though some had trouble hearing it over the din of the trading floor.

At 9:36 a.m., a roar went up as GM common stock opened at $35.40: 7.3 percent over the $33 IPO price.

About 40 reporters from around the world attended the opening, watching from an exchange mezzanine.

"It couldn't have gone better if you had drawn it up on paper," said Niederauer, who acknowledged owning a Toyota pickup, but said he would consider buying GM.

"I said to the (GM executives), I came home in a Chevy convertible and I crashed my mom's Chevy Impala when I was 17," Niederauer said.

Akerson made his way to the trading floor as more than 100 brokers and others crowded to buy or sell stock at GM's opening. Akerson bought some of the first shares. "I think about 800 - whatever everybody else got." He said he intends to hold onto them.

Six members of the GM board and many of its top executives attended the opening. They included North American President Mark Reuss, manufacturing chief Tim Lee, Chief Financial Officer Chris Liddell and Tom Stephens, vice chairman of global product operations. They all wore gold-colored name badges with GM NYSE on them.

"A year ago, would you have thought we would have made the transformation?" Stephens asked The Detroit News. "It's an amazing day for General Motors."

But Stephens was eager to get home. "We need to get back to Detroit and get all of our people together - the people that have worked so long."

When Akerson headed outside for the car photo-up, at 10:30 a.m., the cars were already parked - all of the driving tests were unnecessary.

Some traders checked out the cars, with most opting to look at the Volt or Camaro.

Even though GM didn't show off any SUVs in front of the exchange, they weren't entirely left out. Akerson left for the airport in a black Chevrolet Suburban, and many of the other GM execs rode in a custom-made Chevy conversion van - a "turtle top luxury" modelThey were heading to the airport to get to Detroit to attend a private employee celebration of the IPO.

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20101118/AUTO01/11180448/GM-takes-over-the-NYSE#ixzz15gS5WWrl

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