General Motors Corp. is reported to be mulling some cutbacks across its white-collar workforce, as well as trimming its brand portfolio.
The Wall Street Journal today reported that General Motors is preparing to cut thousands of more jobs and possibly unload one or more of its marquee brands in its plan to return to profitability by 2010.
Amidst steep declines in its vehicle sales, and at a time of soaring gas prices and low consumer confidence, GM could be mulling presenting job cuts and other cash-saving steps to its board of directors by early August, said the WSJ. These measures could potentially be part of a much broader re-evaluation that would have the eventual goal of returning the company back into black by 2010, the WSJ said citing internal projections.
The report said that GM is likely to approve the white-collar job cuts at company's board meeting in August. The company has faced criticism that GM still had too much fat in its middle management, despite eliminating 12,000 white-collar jobs to 32,000 last year from 44,000 in 2000.
The company has also been criticised for its high engineering, manufacturing and marketing costs that make it dificult to sustain all its eight brands.
The WSJ report said that all the company's brands, with the exception of Chevrolet and Cadillac, are potential candidates for elimination, with Buick, Saturn and Saab being the most likely divestitures.
In what has been termed as one of the worst runs in the automaker's history, its share price has been languishing at levels not witnessed since the 1950s, and brokerage firms such as Merrill Lynch have advised clients to offload their positions, going as far as suggesting a potential candidate for bankruptcy, saying that it was ''not impossible''.
Though the company is reported to have enough cash to outlive this crisis, GM will still have to rediscover ways to bring buyers back to its showrooms, given its 18 per cent drop reported in June US vehicle sales, with month end sales promos failing to stem the decline.
The world's largest automaker is also expected to bring forward its plans to introduce small cars from other markets, even as it mulls every option to cope with falling demand due to consumer preference for more fuel efficient smaller cars with fuel prices hover near $4 per gallon. (See: General Motors to introduce small, fuel efficient car in the US)
Some time ago, GM put its Hummer division up for sale. Reports now suggest that it could also be considering a similar move on another of its eight remaining brands that would save it billions of dollars in development costs for a range of vehicles that is slow to move off its inventory. A potential shut down could also be a possibility for one of the brands, though it is most unlikely to happen to the core brands Chevrolet and Cadillac, according to the WSJ.
However, the Detroit-based auto giant said that Hummer is the only brand of its eight US brands that is under a formal review for a possible sale, or shutdown. In June it had announced plans to divest its Hummer brand and shut down four truck plants (See: GM to sell Hummer SUV brand; close four truck plants) and decided to go slow on trucks and SUVs, while concentrating on cars.
GM's domestic market share is presently at an 83-year low, and its shares are trading at 54-year lows. Its US sales are down 16 per cent during the first half of the year, with record gasoline prices evaporating demand for Chevrolet and GMC pickups and SUVs.
GM is said to have $24 billion in cash and $4.6 billion in credit on hand taking care of immediate requirements. However, some analysts have predicted that it would try to raise $10 billion in the third quarter of this year by mortgaging trademarks, international operations and other assets.
GM could well take a hint from rival Ford Motor Co, which is facing similar fortunes, and has cut taken similar actions, eliminating 2,000 salaried jobs, and selling off its Land Rover, and Jaguar brands to Indian auto major Tata Motors, as well as selling off Aston Martin earlier.