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DETROIT-As has been suspected for months, General Motors finally filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this morning in the US Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan. Under the current plans for the world’s largest automobile maker, the US government will become its largest shareholder. “Today marks a defining moment in the reinvention of GM as a leaner, quicker, more customer-focused, and more cost-competitive company that, above all, can quickly generate winning bottom line results,” GM president and CEO, Fritz Henderson, said in a press conference this morning.

During a press conference this morning, President Barack Obama told the American public that with the new plan the US government will own 60% of the new GM once the government invests $30 billion to jump start the automaker. “We’re acting as reluctant shareholders,” he said, assuring the public that the government would not run the restructured company.


The filing is the largest ever by a US manufacturer. GM claims to have $82.3 billion in assets and $172.8 billion in debt, according to the filing. After the 60 to 90 days that it will take to restructure GM, the company plans to be much smaller, Henderson said the company would move quickly through the process. “We need to move through bankruptcy with pure unadulterated speed,” he said.

Although the President said it would take GM significantly longer to restructure than Chrysler, which will resurrect from its bankruptcy filing in the next several days.

To achieve this leaner company, GM will sell or close its Saturn, Saab, Hummer and Pontiac brands, shutter 2,600 dealerships and 11 manufacturing assets in the US.

By October both the plants in Pontiac, MI and Wilmington, DE will shutter. Additionally, the stamping plants in Grand Rapids, MI; Indianapolis; and Mansfield, OH will close sporadically over the next two years. By December 2010, six Powertrain plants will be closed. Those are located in Livonia, Flint, and Willow Run, MI; Parma, OH; and Fredericksburg, VA.

Service operations in Boston; Jacksonville, FL; and Columbus will be closed by December. The plants in Orion, MI; Spring Hill, TN; and Pontiac, MI will close temporarily.

The United Auto Workers will need to agree to more concessions, President Barack Obama said in a press conference this morning. These compromises will include 21,000 additional layoffs and salary cuts.

Those in the Detroit market have been watching the auto industry closely for the last several months. But the experts here don’t foresee an huge fallout as a result. “Market values in Detroit have fallen in anticipation of the current events so we are already close to the bottom, meaning the impact of the potential Chrysler sale and GM bankruptcy will not drastically change the current dynamics; however, there is some uncertainty around Chrysler’s headquarters and the long-term prognosis for this site is unknown,” says Jim Becker, market director in Detroit for Jones Lang LaSalle.

While the market might not shift much as a result, a revival of the market is a long way off. “The commercial real estate market has been near-frozen from the first mention of a potential automaker bankruptcy several months ago,” Fred Liesveld, EVP in Detroit for Grubb & Ellis, tells GlobeSt.com. “For the market to thaw, we must first see the new shape of Chrysler and GM when (they) emerges from bankruptcy. After all this, we will be assessing the shape of the automotive supply base. The CRE market will not begin to see movement until The Big 3 and their supply base start showing their new form.”

The local Detroit government has been looking to attract other businesses to the area in order to fill the void. “Officials have programs in place to aggressively court new business opportunities and there is legislation that will further enhance the state’s goal of bringing new and diversified industries and jobs to the state,” Becker tells GlobeSt.com. “Industries that may grow in the state include sustainable energy solutions such as wind power and solar panels and the battery business. Additionally, pending affirmation of existing legislation, the movie business is a strong target.”

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