General Motors ( GM) says its position has not changed: It remains strongly opposed to a bankruptcy filing. The company sought to rebut a story in Friday's Wall Street Journal suggesting that top GM executives have changed their position and are now open to a speedy bankruptcy for which the government would provide financing. No way, says GM. "Contrary to today's story in The Wall Street Journal, GM has not changed its position on bankruptcy," the company said in a press release. Two days of bankruptcy speculation has pummeled GM shares. Shares were trading Friday afternoon at $1.43, down 43 cents. GM shares closed Wednesday at $2. But on Thursday, in a regulatory filing, the company said that its auditor has raised "substantial doubt" about its ability to continue as a going concern. The Journal story appeared on Friday before the market opened. It now seems certain that for the first time in decades, GM shares will close lower than Ford ( F) shares. Ford was trading Friday afternoon at $1.76, down 5 cents. In its response to the Journal story, GM said that "restructuring the business out of court remains the best solution for GM and its constituents" and that it is following "a clearly-defined plan to restructure its business and restore GM to long-term viability. "As a prudent business measure, the company has analyzed various bankruptcy scenarios," GM said. "However, the company firmly believes an in-court restructuring would carry with it tremendous costs and risks, the most significant being a dramatic deterioration of revenue due to lost sales."
In the Journal story, a source maintained that after months of research, including analysis done by top bankruptcy advisers, GM has determined it could emerge from a prepackaged bankruptcy, under which various constituents -- unions, suppliers and bondholders -- would agree in advance to concessions. Top GM executives have pushed aside "earlier concern that such a move would scare away so many customers the company wouldn't survive," a source told the Journal. The newspaper concluded that GM appears to have moved closer to the possibility of filing, given the change in its thinking combined with the disclosure Thursday.