DETROIT -- General Electric Co. on Tuesday said it had not withdrawn a $2 billion loan facility from General Motors, but it will stop funding a program that sends early payments to the automaker's suppliers.
GE and GM said in a joint statement that GE Commercial Finance will continue to fund the program, which makes payments to GM suppliers ahead of the due date, while it transitions to financing from GM's unit GMAC Commercial Finance.
GE said in a statement that it made the decision because it had decided to exit the trade payables business. GE did not return phone calls seeking further information.
But a GM spokesman said GE's decision was unrelated to cuts in the automaker's debt ratings to near "junk" status, and GE earlier terminated a similar program with DaimlerChrysler AG.
"They no longer considered the business to be core for them," GM spokesman Jerry Dubrowski said. "It has absolutely nothing to do with the credit rating. GE's decision was made some time ago."
The Financial Times reported on Tuesday that GE Capital had withdrawn the $2 billion loan facility, days after debt rating agencies warned GM could be downgraded to "junk" bond status.
However, GE Capital notified GM last year that it intended to stop funding the payment program by the end of 2005, the automaker said in a government filing last week.
The program includes a trigger, permitting GE Capital to immediately stop the program if Standard & Poor's or Moody's Investors Service cut GM's long-term debt ratings to one step above "junk" status, with a negative outlook. Last week, both S&P and Fitch cut their debt ratings on GM to that level, warning that a move to "junk" could occur at any time.