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GM CEO sees potential for sales turnaround

/ Source: The Associated Press

General Motors Corp. Chief Executive Fritz Henderson said Tuesday that U.S. and global markets are stabilizing, which could indicate a turnaround in auto sales.

Speaking to reporters during an online chat on the company's "GM Blogs" Web site, Henderson said stability is at an "anemic" level but is consistent with assumptions made in the viability plan GM submitted to the government.

He said sales are improving and have been on an uptick since March. GM is currently under bankruptcy protection as it reorganizes with $50 billion in aid from the U.S. government.

"Still, better to not be falling, and the levels we are seeing are generally consistent with the assumptions in our plan," he wrote.

A U.S. cash-for-clunkers program being weighed by Congress could further help the market, Henderson said.

"Our best estimate would be a 10 percent lift in retail sales based on the program under consideration today," he said.

Henderson reiterated the company's plan to reduce executive employees 34 percent by the end of the year, adding that there will be "significant" changes in GM's structure.

Henderson's remarks came on the same day its Saab Automobile unit was acquired by a consortium led by Koenigsegg Automotive AB, a Swedish custom car maker.

"Based on the preliminary plan, we expect the buyer to ask GM to build the 9-4x," Henderson told reporters during an online chat Tuesday. "We will also provide support in terms of powertrain and other technologies."

GM sold off its Hummer and Saturn brands as well, but will eliminate Pontiac. Henderson said there was no potential to sell the unit.

"In the end we did not see the same potential, to be honest, for Pontiac," he said.