February 12, 2015 / 4:41 PM / 3 years ago

Exclusive - GM turns to banks to help deal with activist investor group

DETROIT/NEW YORK (Reuters) - General Motors Co (GM.N) has turned to two investment banks to help it come up with a response to a shareholder group demanding $8 billion (5 billion pounds) in stock buybacks and a seat on the board of the No. 1 U.S. automaker, the company told Reuters.

An unsold 2015 General Motors Cadillac ATS vehicle is seen in an auto dealership in Warren, Michigan in this February 8, 2015 file photo. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/Files

The automaker is working with Morgan Stanley (MS.N) and Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) for advice on how it should deal with former U.S. auto task force member Harry Wilson and four hedge funds that are pushing for the company to dip into its $25 billion in cash, GM said on Thursday.

Under the proposal by the activist group, Wilson would be elected to the board at GM’s annual meeting in June.

“We are working with a set of advisors including Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley,” GM said in a statement in response to Reuters.

Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs declined to comment.

The General Motors world headquarters is seen in downtown Detroit, Michigan in this file photo taken on May 31, 2009. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Wilson, 43, has joined with David Tepper’s Appaloosa Management and three other hedge funds: Taconic Capital Advisors, Hayman Capital Management and HG Vora Capital Management, which together own about 31.2 million shares, or 1.9 percent of GM stock.

Shareholders have been pressing GM to return more capital to them, and the automaker responded last week by announcing plans to boost its dividend by 20 percent.

    GM Chief Financial Officer Chuck Stevens also indicated more could be coming, telling Reuters on Feb. 4 that the company would look at returning more capital to investors as early as the second half of this year once it resolves legal issues tied to the recall of a defective ignition switch.

    Both Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs have historically worked closely with the Detroit automaker.

    Morgan Stanley helped GM during bankruptcy restructuring in 2009 and its initial public offering the following year, and GM President Dan Ammann is a former Morgan Stanley banker. Goldman Sachs advised GM on its partnership with French automaker PSA Peugeot Citroen. (PEUP.PA)

    GM shares were up 0.7 percent at $37.93 on Thursday afternoon.

    Editing by Matthew Lewis

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