Kerkorian selling 14 million GM shares

/ Source: The Associated Press

Dissident General Motors Corp. shareholder Kirk Kerkorian said Wednesday that he will slash his stake in the troubled automaker by selling 14 million shares of its stock this week.

The sale, announced in a regulatory filing, came on the same day that Kerkorian’s Tracinda Corp. announced plans to offer $55 a share in cash for up to 15 million shares of MGM Mirage Inc. The transaction would boost Kerkorian’s stake in the owner of the Bellagio in Las Vegas and other casinos to more than 60 percent.

In the GM filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Tracinda said it had agreed on Monday to sell the shares at $33 each in a private transaction. The agreement will close on Friday, the filing said.

Kerkorian now owns 56 million shares, or 9.9 percent of GM, according to the financial Web site. The sale would reduce his stake to 42 million, or 7.4 percent of the company’s 565.5 million outstanding shares.

Tracinda spokeswoman Carrie Bloom said she could not comment on the GM transaction beyond the SEC filing.

Burnham Securities analyst David Healy said the two transactions may be related, but Kerkorian likely has the resources to buy the MGM stake without selling GM stock.

“He’s giving them the Chinese water drop torture instead of bailing out all at once,” Healy said of the GM sale. “He’s still trying to stir the pot.”

MGM Mirage shares rose $5.06, or 10.33 percent, to $54.06 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange. GM shares fell $1.80, or 5.52 percent, to $30.81.

Last month, Jerome York, a key adviser to Kerkorian, resigned from the GM board, citing a board room environment unreceptive to extensive probing and “grave reservations” about GM’s abilities against Asian competitors.

The move came after GM decided against joining an alliance with Renault SA of France and Nissan Motor Corp. of Japan. The three companies began talks on the alliance at the behest of Tracinda.

Healy, who owns GM stock, said investors should stop following Kerkorian and pay more attention to gains made by GM in its turnaround plan.

Tracinda — which is solely owned by Kerkorian — already holds 158.4 million shares of MGM Mirage, or 56.3 percent of the company’s outstanding stock.