DETROIT—With the clock ticking on a June 1 government deadline to restructure, General Motors Corp. worked feverishly Sunday to shore up its global businesses to clear the way for a speedy reorganization in bankruptcy court.
A majority of the Detroit automaker's unsecured bondholders announced they had accepted a deal viewed as crucial to reorganization, and Germany agreed to loan $2 billion to GM's German unit, Opel, as part of its acquisition by a Canadian auto parts supplier.
The moves don't change much for GM, but shore it up for a bankruptcy protection filing, said Rebecca Lindland, an auto analyst for the consulting firm IHS Global Insight.
"The more agreements GM has with its interests, the better the bankruptcy is going to go," she said. "It's not a game changer at all."
GM, part of American life for more than 100 years and once the country's largest employer, is expected to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at 8 a.m. EDT Monday, according to people familiar with the company's plans. They declined to be identified because the plans haven't been officially announced.
It would be the largest industrial bankruptcy in U.S. history, and the fourth-largest overall. In addition, a GM bankruptcy would be unprecedented as the federal government would pump billions more into the company, and take a 72.5 percent interest in the automaker.
On Sunday a group of large, institutional bondholders, representing 54 percent of GM bondholders, agreed to exchange their unsecured bonds for a 10 percent stake in a newly restructured company, plus warrants to purchase a greater share later. They had balked at an earlier offer, that gave them 10 percent of the company without the warrants.
The Treasury, which has been guiding the Detroit automaker toward a rescue plan, notified the company Sunday the response was sufficient to move forward with a pre-packaged bankruptcy filing. In a previous exchange offer, the Treasury demanded participation of 90 percent of bondholders, representing unsecured debt of $24 billion.
President Barack Obama is expected to give a speech addressing the Detroit automaker's future just before noon Monday. GM Chief Executive Fritz Henderson has scheduled a news conference in New York to directly follow the president's remarks at 12:15 p.m. EDT.
GM already has received about $20 billion in government loans and could get $30 billion more to make it through what is expected to be a 60- to 90-day reorganization in bankruptcy court.
Beyond the bankruptcy announcement Monday, GM is expected to reveal 14 plants it intends to close and name the buyer of its Hummer division.
In Germany on Sunday, the government agreed to loan GM's Opel unit $2.1 billion, a move necessary for Magna International Inc. to acquire the company.
The Canadian auto parts supplier Magna will take a 20 percent stake in Opel and Russian-owned Sberbank will take a 35 percent, giving the two businesses a majority. GM retains 35 percent of Opel, with the remaining 10 percent going to employees.
The German funds are available to Opel immediately, as it attempts to shield itself from cuts if GM files for bankruptcy protection. Opel employs 25,000 people in Germany, nearly half of GM Europe's work force. Under the deal, four factories in Germany would stay open saving jobs.
But jobs in other European countries may not be safe, Lindland said.
"As those (German) jobs are becoming protected, other jobs in other parts of Europe are put at risk," she said.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who was traveling to China, followed the developments closely. The Treasury on Thursday offered bondholders 10 percent of a newly formed GM's stock, plus warrants to buy 15 percent more to erase the debt. Last week, GM withdrew an offer of 10 percent equity after only 15 percent of the thousands of bondholders signed up.
The current 54 percent acceptance represents only $14.6 billion, but by lining up support in advance of a bankruptcy protection filing, GM is likely to find it easier to persuade a judge to apply terms of the sweetened offer to the rest of its unsecured debt.
It could also help the automaker get through the court process more quickly, said Robert Gordon, head of the corporate restructuring and bankruptcy group at Clark Hill PLC in Detroit.