Thursday, November 18, 2010

GM's IPO — Hit It, Dinah!

For the first time since it entered bankruptcy reorganization in June 2009, a new high-flying General Motors stock returns to Big Board trading today. Its IPO was priced swimmingly yesterday, looking to be the second-largest IPO in U.S. history, according to preliminary reports.

Who better to greet the return of GM from the dead than Dinah Shore, with her serenade of "See the USA in Your Chevrolet" in the clip above.

I am showing my age here, but I well remember Dinah singing this advertising ditty in her television show in the 1950s, although my remembrance of this goes back to the late '50s and not 1952, the date of this clip. A superstar entertainer during that decade, Dinah had a long and close association with GM and its Chevrolet brand. "The Dinah Shore Chevy Show" ran from 1956-1963. According to this detailed account:

A GM spokesman told Time magazine in December 1957 that the company considered its link with Dinah to be "one of the most enduring love affairs in TV." Indeed, Dinah Shore was helping to make Chevrolet the most popular automobile brand in America. In the 1950s, Chevy sales in the U.S. averaged 1 million or more cars and trucks a year. . . . She became the "queen of General Motors" in its heyday — a super-salesman and more.

So, welcome back GM. For most of my 30 years at Directors & Boards, the GM board has been held in fairly — and, in many cases, unfairly — low esteem. There have been many good people who served on the GM board, which has been inordinately defamed over the decades. But rightly or wrongly, just saying "GM board" has been a kind of shorthand for a board that fiddled while Rome burned.

Perhaps now, as trading gets underway in this resurgent automaker (that is actually making enviable profits again), we relegate to the junkyard GM's reputation as a lemon in the world of corporate governance.