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GM's AmeriCredit Plan Puzzling to Investors

Stocks in this article: ACF

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Toward the end of last month, GM announced that it would acquire subprime lender AmeriCredit (ACF) for about $3.5 billion in cash, in a move that both pleased and angered TheStreet users, as we discovered in a weeklong poll last week.

Shortly after this GM plan was revealed, TheStreet released a poll posing to readers the question: "Should GM have agreed to buy AmeriCredit?" The results? Most survey takers are, apparently, puzzled by GM's move.

More than 62% of the survey takers say that GM shouldn't be buying into subprime lending, when subprime lending is what led, indirectly, to the automakers' collapse. About 38% of voters believe that GM needs to sell more cars to pay back the taxpayers, and this plan will bolster its performance.

Credit research company CreditSights believes that this move can benefit GM in a number of ways. "By owning a captive auto finance company again, GM has now regained the ability to execute a number of strategies that it was constrained from employing before," CreditSights analyst Adam Steer writes in a recent note.

"Most importantly, GM can offer more leasing options to its customers." GM could use a lift in this area of the market.

CreditSights notes that in the first half of 2010, 7% of GM's U.S. retail sales were leases -- down from 18% in 2007 -- noticeably lower than 21% for the rest of the industry.

CreditSights points out that one of the main reasons for GM's lower lease penetration was the decision by Ally -- formerly known as GMAC -- in 2008 to significantly pull back from the lease market. The pullback was accelerated as oil prices spiked to more than $140 a barrel in the summer of 2008, causing Ally to take large impairment charges.

The news comes as Reuters reported that GM is planning to file for an IPO during the week of Aug. 16. Two Reuters sources say that the IPO registration papers will be filed right after the company reports second-quarter earnings, which falls in the week of Aug. 16.

GM to File for IPO in August
Click here for GM IPO story

-- Reported by Andrea Tse in New York


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