GM Planning to Lay Off Thousands, May Sell Brands

Bruised by a deep sales slump and a half-century-low in its stock price, General Motors Corp. is preparing to cut thousands more white-collar jobs and is considering whether it should sell or shutter more of its brands, people familiar with the matter said.

Both moves are part of a broader re-evaluation of GM's strategy and of its ability to meet an internal projection of returning to profitability in 2010, these people said.

The job cuts are likely to be approved when GM's board of directors meets in early August, these people said. Management may also present the board with options for raising additional cash to help GM make it through the downturn, they said. The board will probably also hear management's latest thoughts on whether GM should trim the number of brands it offers in the U.S.

A company spokesman declined to comment on either the job or brand cuts.

The company currently sells vehicles under eight different brands, but most, including Buick, Saturn and Saab, struggle to attract buyers despite offering new models that cost GM billions of dollars to develop. The company has already decided to put its Hummer division up for sale.

Discussions among top executives about the number of brands have intensified in recent weeks, and signal a potential major shift in thinking by the company — especially by Chief Executive Rick Wagoner. As top executives review future cars and trucks earmarked for various brands, "nothing is off the table," several people said. All but Cadillac and Chevrolet, which GM considers core to its business, are undergoing close scrutiny, other people said.

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