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3. What growth strategies might your company pursue?
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Case study: General Motors
On January 9, 2013, Daniel Akerson, the chief executive of General Motors, pointed out that his firm had shown profits on a consistent basis over the past eight quarters (see Exhibits 1 to 3). He expected GM to show even better performance in the coming year, largely because it was expecting to launch new models of many of the cars in its lineup. At the same time, Akerson acknowledged that the firm still had a long way to go before it completed its turnaround. “Obviously we still have a lot of work to do in some areas and we’re taking the necessary corrective actions to get the ball over the goal line,” he recently told analysts and reporters.1
GM was forced into bankruptcy in 2009 by the U.S. government when it received shares in the firm in return for providing $50 million in emergency funding. GM emerged from bankruptcy as a smaller, leaner competitor with fewer brands, fewer employees, and less production capacity. It revamped most of its management team, which was eventually taken over by Akerson. Soon after he took over, GM offered shares in the new company, in one of the nation’s largest initial stock offerings ever, and the federal government sold most of its 60 percent stake after shepherding the firm through bankruptcy.
There were some signs of progress under Akerson after three years. He had made some headway in dealing with GM’s notorious internal bureaucracy. The firm had also managed to cut costs, particularly in its long-term obligations with health care costs and pensions. GM had successfully introduced new cars in the U.S., such as the Chevrolet Cruze and the Cadillac ATS, and was set to unveil a redesign of its Corvette sports car. Partly as a result of these actions, the firm was also generating profits in most regions with the exception of Europe (see Exhibits 4 and 5).
In spite of these positive developments, there were still many questions about the strength of the firm’s comeback from its bankruptcy. In 2012, GM experienced a sharp decline in its domestic market share, dropping to its lowest level in more than 50 years. It continued to search for answers to its long-standing problems in Europe, where its yearly loss, mostly from its Opel and Vauxhall brands, deepened from $700 million in 2011 to $1.8 billion in 2012. Finally, even as it had persuaded the U.S. government to sell back to the firm a large chunk of shares, GM was still struggling to overcome the lingering, politically charged stigma of being “Government Motors.”
*Case developed by Professor Jamal Shamsie, Michigan State University, with the assistance of Professor Alan B. Eisner, Pace University. Material has been drawn from published sources to be used for purposes of class discussion. Copyright © 2013 Jamal Shamsie and Alan B. Eisner.
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