Approaching a likely bankruptcy filing,
says it will consider anything to reduce costs, even a headquarters move from the towering Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit.
Asked if a move is possible during a Monday morning conference call with reporters, GM CEO Fritz Henderson responded: "We're looking, frankly, at everything within our business, but it's not like we have that cued up at the top of our list. Our headquarters is here, we've got a fairly large compliment of people here and we're proud to be here.
"We don't have any such plans (to move), but if we did it would be motivated by business rationale, which would be cost, efficiency and speed," Henderson said.
The automaker faces a June 1 deadline to restructure its debt or file for bankruptcy. "Today, it's more probable that we would need to resort to a bankruptcy process," Henderson said, although the possibility remains that it will not be necessary. GM remains solvent only because it has received $15.4 billion in federal loans this year.
In general, Henderson indicated openness to whatever proposal stakeholders present to GM, which unveiled a stepped-up restructuring plan last month.
For instance, he said the company has been considering the sale of its Saturn distributor network but would be open to Saturn's retention of manufacturing capability, if a potential buyer were to surface. He said GM has been "supporting the distribution channel in terms of looking for alternative sources of product to buy" and a number of potential buyers have emerged.
"If a buyer was interested in building in the U.S. we would strongly encourage that," he said. "We've certainly indicated an openness to discuss (it) as part of the dialogue with interested parties."
As for the United Auto Workers' objections to increasing amounts of offshore production for the North American market, Henderson said GM's plan foresees that by 2014 about 7.5% of production for the U.S. market would take place outside of North America. But "this is something we would want to have a discussion with them about," he said. "We have the philosophy of building where we (sell). Not only is that the right thing to do, it's the most profitable thing to do historically."
In terms of negotiations for sale of its Opel unit, Henderson said GM would be willing to accept a minority position and to consider other changes a potential partner such as
might seek. "You need to respect the rights and the interest of the partner in any such agreement," he said.
Meanwhile, GM will begin this week to inform select dealers this week that they will lose their franchises.
"We will start notifying dealers a little bit later this week of our game plan," Henderson said. The company plans to reduce its dealer count by 42% to 3,605 from 6,246 by the end of 2010.
"We would try to work with our dealers to effect an orderly wind-down of their inventory positions," he said, noting the process will be orderly. "It's work that would take place through '09 as we would wind down and handle the distribution of cars, make sure customers are taken care of."
In trading late Monday morning, GM shares were down 16 cents to $1.45. Shares in
were down 8 cents to $6.16.