GM to pay first dividend since 2008

General Motors Tuesday announced plans to begin paying a quarterly dividend for the first time since the company's 2008 government rescue.

GM will begin paying a common stock dividend of 30 cents per share in March, according to a statement released after the stock markets closed.

GM chief financial officer Dan Amman said in the statement that an "ongoing payout" was possible thanks to the company's "fortress balance sheet, substantial liquidity, consistent earnings and strong cash flow."

"This return to shareholders is consistent with our capital priorities and is an important signal of confidence in our plans for a continuing profitable future."

A GM spokesman confirmed that the dividend is the reborn company's first since its initial public offering in November 2010. The prior company suspended its dividend in July 2008.

Earlier Tuesday, GM said it sold 9.71 million cars last year, a four percent gain. Sales grew seven percent in the United States and 11 percent in China, the world's leading markets.

GM's fortunes have risen in recent years after the US government took control of the automaker with a $50 billion injection in 2008 and the company exited bankruptcy restructuring in July 2009.

In December, the US Treasury announced that it had sold its last shares in the company.

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