What Would It Take For Taxpayers To Break Even On GM? : Planet Money For the government to get its bailout money back, GM's stock would have to do really, really well.
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What Would It Take For Taxpayers To Break Even On GM?

Soon, you'll be able to buy a piece of the new GM: The company just registered for an IPO.

Of course, if you're a taxpayer, you already own GM. As part of a $50 billion bailout, the government became the owner of 61 percent of the company.

As we noted recently, GM has been doing pretty well lately. So how high would the company's stock have to rise for taxpayers to break even on the bailout?

Here's some quick math:

We got that 61 percent ownership GM for about $40 billion (the rest of the bailout money is loans, most of which have already been paid back).

That suggests that if the value of GM (i.e. its market cap) hits $66 billion, we break even. By comparison, Ford, whose revenues were comparable to GM's in the most recent quarter, has a market cap of about $42 billion.

But there's a twist: The United Auto Workers retiree health-care fund, as well as some investors who held bonds in the old GM, have the right to exercise warrants that would also give them an ownership stake in GM.

If everybody were to exercise their warrants, the government's share of the company would fall to about 50 percent, according to Bloomberg News. If that happens, the company's market cap would have to rise to about $80 billion for taxpayers to break even.

When GM's stock was at an all-time high back in 2000, its market cap was about $56 billion, according to CNBC.