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GM’s Stock Offer: Goldman Sachs Undercuts Rivals as it Loses Top Role

NEW YORK – Wall Street banks led by JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley stand to make a combined $120 million on General Motors Co.’s initial public offering. If it weren’t for Goldman Sachs Group Inc., they could have made four times as much, Bloomberg reported.

In a pitch to the U.S. Treasury in May, Goldman Sachs offered to accept a fee of 0.75 percent, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter. That’s a fraction of the 3 percent banks typically charge on the largest IPOs and well below the 2 percent offered by Bank of America Corp. and other banks that presented to Treasury, said the people, speaking anonymously because the matter is private.

Goldman Sachs, which had just been sued for fraud by federal regulators and has ties to GM competitor Ford Motor Co., didn’t get a top role in the IPO. The government imposed the fee pitched by Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn and his five-person team on all underwriters, angering the banks, the people said.

“The fact the other banks are furious at Goldman is not surprising,” said Samuel Hayes, a professor emeritus of investment banking at Harvard Business School in Boston. “They feel it gave the government a real lever to force down fees on the underwriters. But the deal still has a lot of marquee value.”

Banks involved in the deal include lead managers JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley, as well as Bank of America and Citigroup Inc., among others. Some banks made different concessions in their pitches to the Treasury. Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America and Zurich-based Credit Suisse Group AG offered to use some of their fees to buy GM vehicles or to subsidize employee purchases of GM cars and trucks, according to the people with knowledge of the matter.

Goldman Sachs spokeswoman Andrea Rachman and spokespeople for the other banks declined to comment. Treasury spokesman Mark Paustenbach also declined to comment.

Goldman Sachs will have a role in the offering, as will Credit Suisse, said the people. Five U.S. banks pitched GM and the Treasury on May 19 in Washington, and non-U.S. lenders made presentations in early June. All sent top executives, such as JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon and John Mack, chairman of Morgan Stanley.

Treasury officials including Ronald Bloom, chief of the auto task force, and GM executives were concerned that if it became public the government hadn’t picked Goldman Sachs’s low bid, they would face criticism for wasting taxpayer money because of a bias against the firm, the people said. The officials and executives decided, in conjunction with Lazard Ltd., which is advising Treasury, to use the Goldman Sachs bid and impose it on other banks.

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