NEW YORK – General Motors Corp. said Tuesday that it has tentatively agreed to sell its Hummer brand, a day after the U.S. automaker filed for bankruptcy protection with hopes that it will transform its most profitable assets into a new company within just 30 days.
The Detroit-based company did not name the proposed buyer or the price, but said the sale will likely save more than 3,000 U.S. jobs in manufacturing, engineering and at various Hummer dealerships.
"We're not today in a position to be able to identify a buyer. it was part of the agreement," GM Chief Executive Fritz Henderson told CBS's "The Early Show." ''We believe the buyer is quite capable of closing."
Critics had seized on the rugged but fuel-inefficient Hummer as a symbol of excess as GM's financial troubles grew and gas prices rose. Sales at Hummer, which is known for hulking sport utility vehicles like the H3, have been in a steep slide since gasoline prices rose to record heights last summer. For the first four months of this year, Hummer sales are down 67 percent.
GM and other automakers will report May auto sales later Tuesday.
A sale of the Hummer brand had been expected. Chief Executive Fritz Henderson had said in April that the automaker was expecting final bids from three potential buyers within the month.
Other terms of the transaction, which is currently tied to a memorandum of understanding, were not disclosed.
The unnamed buyer is planning to "aggressively" finance Hummer's future product programs, according to GM.
"I'm confident that Hummer will thrive globally under its new ownership. And for GM, this sale continues to accelerate the reinvention of GM into a leaner, more focused and more cost-competitive automaker," Troy Clarke, president of GM North America, said in a statement.
GM is also trying to sell its Saab and Saturn brands and will phase out its Pontiac brand as it concentrates on its Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC nameplates.
In advance of Monday's bankruptcy filing by GM, the automaker had agreed on a deal to sell a majority interest in its Adam Opel GmbH unit in Europe.
Under that plan, Canada's Magna International Inc. would get a 20 percent stake in Opel and state-controlled Russian lender Sberbank would take a 35 percent stake. GM will retain a 35 percent holding, while the remaining 10 percent will go to Opel employees.
The proposed deal for Hummer will allow it to continue to contract vehicle manufacturing and business services from GM during the transition process.
The Hummer sale is expected to close by the third quarter's end.
GM sought court protection from its creditors on Monday under Chapter 11 of the U.S. bankruptcy code. The company said it hopes to reshape the company within a month and emerge from reorganization in 60 to 90 days as a profitable entity with fewer employees, factories and dealers.