DETROIT – General Motors Corp. may miss a $1 billion bond payment due June 1 if it doesn't complete a debt-for-equity exchange by then, the company said Wednesday.
The troubled auto giant plans to make the exchange offer soon to bondholders, perhaps as early as next week. GM has $28 billion in unsecured bond debt and is under government pressure to reduce that debt and solidify its balance sheet.
GM said in a statement that it will not make the payment if the exchange is still in progress June 1, which is also its deadline to reduce debt, cut labor costs and complete other restructuring steps to the government's satisfaction. If it can't meet the deadline, GM will go into Chapter 11, which could also make the company miss the payment.
Chief Financial Officer Ray Young told reporters about the possible skipped payment after speaking at a Chinese auto industry conference Wednesday in Detroit.
Company spokeswoman Renee Rashid-Merem would not disclose the terms of the exchange offer, nor would she say when it would be made other than in the short term. The company would not pay off the bonds because they would be subject to the terms of the exchange offer, she said.
"You wouldn't pay on something that you're in the process of exchanging," she said.
GM is living on $13.4 billion worth of government loans and could get up to another $5 billion to last through May as it tries to negotiate debt reductions and concessions from its unions.
The company also is accelerating previously announced factory closures and may close additional plants as it tries to save money and shrink itself to adjust to a smaller share of the U.S. market.
GM this week said it is completing the layoff of 3,400 white-collar workers in the U.S. The company plans to cut a total of 47,000 jobs worldwide by the end of the year.
The company also is planning to close most of its factories for up to nine weeks this summer as it tries to reduce large inventories of unsold cars and trucks, according to two people briefed on the plan.
GM and other automakers are in the midst of the worst U.S. sales slump in 27 years.