GM IPO: Automaker's shares open at $35 a share, beating expectations

General Motors returned to the New York Stock exchange today with shares opening at $35 per share and rising to about $36 in early trading, marking an end to the U.S. government's role as a major shareholder.

That's above the initial public offering price, which was set yesterday at $33. And it's $10 more than analysts had predicted a just a few days ago.

GM's IPO is the second-largest in U.S. history.

American taxpayers still own a stake in the company - though much less of it - about 25 percent down from 60 percent post-bailout.

They lost about $4.5 billion in the sale, because the Obama Administration sold its shares for about $33 dollars a piece. The government rescued GM last year by purchasing those shares for $44. To recoup the bailout money now, the shares taxpayers still own would have to rise to $53.

This is only the beginning of the automaker's journey on Wall Street.

"I'm not worried about today, I'm worried about the three months and the six months and the nine months" from now, Chief Financial Officer Chris Liddell said in an interview this morning on CNBC. GM simply can't revert to its old ways, he said, referring to how the company used its pension plan as a "piggy bank."

The company's main financial goals: zero debt and a fully funded employee pension plan, he said.

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