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Government-Owned GM Makes A Big Move Into Subprime -- Will It Boost The Company's IPO?

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That helps explain the timing of General Motors' biggest deal since it emerged from bankruptcy in July 2009. Two weeks ago, the company agreed to buy AmeriCredit, a subprime lender, for $3.5 billion. At the time, industry insiders whispered, not so quietly, that it was meant to dress up G.M.'s sales numbers before an I.P.O.

Last week, Mr. Whitacre appeared to acknowledge as much. "It strengthens the I.P.O. because it shows we have a credit organization just like Ford and Toyota," he told The Detroit News, suggesting that AmeriCredit would substantially increase vehicle sales.

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