General Motors on Monday announced a share buyback program and a new “disciplined capital allocation framework” as part of a deal with dissident shareholders. The auto giant pledged to “return all available free cash flow to shareholders while [maintaining] an investment-grade balance sheet underpinned by a target cash balance of $20 billion.”
According to Reuters, GM Chief Financial Officer Chuck Stevens said the $20 billion cash cushion would be enough to manage through a recession. That minimum cash level may also be reduced over time.
The Detroit automaker said that the framework would also include future capital spending in the range of 5% to 5.5% of annual revenue. The company plans to reinvest in its business “with the objective of driving [a] 20% or higher return on invested capital through investments in world-class vehicles and leading technology.” For 2015, GM said it would invest $9 billion to grow the company, which includes “a more aggressive vehicle launch cadence in the coming years.”
The GM board authorized the repurchase of $5 billion in GM shares, a program which would be completed by the end of 2016. In addition, the company reiterated that it would increase its quarterly dividend to 36 cents a share, which would result in an expected dividend payout of roughly $5 billion through the end of 2016.
The dissident shareholders were led by Harry Wilson, a former member of the Obama administration’s auto industry task force. A Reuters article Monday said GM’s deal with Wilson averted a proxy fight to give Wilson a seat on the company’s board. Wilson reportedly voiced optimism over GM’s new capital plan.
According to Reuters, “GM had built up roughly $25 billion in cash as its sales and profits rebounded following its 2009 government-led bankruptcy.” The new capital allocation framework, however, “depends on GM maintaining an investment grade balance sheet.”