GM Looking to Boost Auto Loans



General Motors is in negotiations with financial institutions in a bid to broaden the availability of auto loans, a strategy that for now pushes off any plans for the company to acquire its own lending arm, people familiar with the situation said Wednesday.

The automaker sees the difficulty of providing loans to more consumers, particularly those with weaker credit, as a barrier to winning back U.S. market share at a time when the company is looking to become more attractive on Wall Street ahead of an initial public stock offering.

GM sold control of its GMAC finance arm three years ago, making it one of the few major auto makers in the U.S. market without an in-house lender. Auto makers can use captive finance arms to make credit available to boost sales of cars and trucks.

GM executives believe that entering into deals with other lenders such as major banks won't provide the same boost GM would have received with its own finance company, but see it as a step toward eliminating the disadvantage, these people said.

GM expects to continue its relationship with GMAC, but the automaker will look to other outside lenders to fill gaps where it feels GMAC has not been willing to free up loans, including in subprime lending and leasing, these people said.

The approach for now diminishes the possibility that GM will start its own finance company or try to regain control of GMAC's auto-lending business, two options the auto maker studied in recent months.