United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams, whose union indirectly controls the largest single block of General Motors Co. shares, told Reuters an investor group's proposal that GM buy back $8 billion of its stock is premature, and the amount too high for the company's long-term health.
An investment firm controlled by Harry Wilson, a former member of the U.S. government task force that restructured GM through bankruptcy in 2009, together with four other hedge funds, is urging it to return part of its roughly $25 billion cash trove to shareholders.
Williams, who said he met Tuesday with Harry Wilson to discuss the proposal, left open the possibility that he could endorse a smaller share repurchase.
"I personally don't have a problem with Harry, but that doesn't mean I necessarily agreed with his total analysis of the company," Williams told Reuters on Friday. He described his meeting with Wilson as "informative and frank."
The UAW, through a retiree medical trust, controls about 8.7 percent of the automaker's shares, according to government filings. The voluntary employees benefit association, or VEBA, trust, designed to fund UAW retirees' medical care, has influence with other funds that it hires to manage its investments.
Williams has a seat on the VEBA's board.