says it is looking closely at the tentative deal between the United Auto Workers and
to modify terms of their agreement on the
Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association
health care trust.
Were it to apply at GM and
, the deal would remove a major stumbling block as the companies seek to restructure outside of bankruptcy court, under terms laid out when they borrowed a combined $17.4 billion from the U.S. Treasury.
"We're analyzing the Ford agreement right now," said GM CFO Ray Young, during the company's earnings conference call Thursday. "We want to make sure we arrive at an agreement with the UAW that helps us achieve the targets in our restructuring plan. We need to understand it and then to enter into a dialogue with the UAW."
The Ford deal enables the company to fund 50% of its VEBA obligation with stock instead of cash. Membership and court approval are required. Now, GM and Chrysler are seeking to negotiate similar deals with the UAW, a source said.
Initially, GM was to provide $24.1 billion in funding, with $13.2 billion from Ford and $8.8 billion from Chrysler for the VEBA. The VEBA was created in 2007 as a way for the Detroit Three automakers to clear billions of dollars in health care obligations from their books by transferring funds and health care obligations to the trust.
Since the Ford/UAW deal was announced on Monday, the prices for shares in the automakers have trended up. Ford closed Thursday at $1.98, up 20% since Monday's opening. GM closed Thursday at $2.38, up 27% over the same period.