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First General Motors Loan Installment is Money in the Bank

The U.S. Treasury Department has acknowledged receiving its first $1 billion repayment from General Motors, taking the repayment from theoretical, "check's in the mail" status to for-real.

I'm glad to be wrong about this. I was afraid that when it really came down to it, GM would always be able to find some reason for delay. It's been more than a month since GM started talking about repaying the GM bailout sooner than strictly necessary, but only recently did the company get more specific about timing.

GM Chairman and acting CEO Ed Whitacre has made repaying the bailout a priority. He now promises to have the loans repaid by the end of the first half of 2010. Whitacre announced on Dec. 18 that GM would pay $1 billion to the U.S. Treasury and $192 million to Export Development Canada.

"We are grateful for the support the governments have provided us. We look forward to continuing repayments through June 2010, at which time the balances will be paid in full, assuming no downturn in the economy or business," Whitacre said in a written statement.

Treasury said that including GM's $1 billion, it had received repayments to its Troubled Asset Relief Program of $119 billion, mostly from banks, with $45 billion more expected soon.

"The Administration's Automotive Industry Financing Program (AIFP) prevented a significant disruption of the American automotive industry, which would have posed a systemic risk to financial market stability and caused broader economic harm," Treasury said in a written statement.

"After emerging from bankruptcy in July, General Motors is on a path to stability and poised to return additional taxpayer investments," the department said.

Before the $1 billion repayment, GM owed the U.S. Treasury close to $7 billion, according to a company report. In addition, Treasury owns 60.8 percent of GM. The governments of Canada and Ontario also own 11.7 percent.

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