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Ontario plans to unload remaining stake in GM

TORONTO (Bloomberg) -- The Canadian province of Ontario plans to sell its remaining shares of General Motors Co. in the next year as part of a review of its state-owned assets.

“Some assets may no longer serve a public good,” Finance Minister Charles Sousa said in the text of a speech today in Toronto. “One good example is our shares in GM.”

Sousa said the government will evaluate market conditions and sell the shares when appropriate over the next year or so.

The province will also assess its liquor monopoly, known as the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. Other assets to be reviewed include utilities Hydro One Inc. and Ontario Power Generation Inc., Sousa said. The province will set up a panel to advise on its state-owned assets, to be led by Tororonto-Dominion Bank CEO Ed Clark.

The Canadian and Ontario governments in September agreed to sell 30 million GM shares worth about $1.1 billion to Bank of America Corp. and Royal Bank of Canada in a block trade, reducing their stake by 21 percent to 110 million shares. The two governments are the second-largest shareholder in the Detroit-based automaker.

“To maximize the value of these assets to the province, they will look at measures such as efficient governance, growth strategies, corporate reorganization, mergers, acquisitions, and public-private partnerships,” Sousa said. “The council will give preference to continued government ownership of all core strategic assets.”

Ontario is Canada's most populous province and home to many of the country's largest financial institutions and the heartland of the country's auto sector.

The Canadian and Ontario governments became shareholders of GM in 2009 when they contributed more than C$10 billion ($9.13 billion) to a bailout to keep GM afloat.

The U.S. Treasury completed the sale of its GM stake in December.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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