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GM makes record profit of $7.6 billion despite losses in Europe

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General Motors posted a record profit of $7.6 billion in 2011, although its losses in Europe were very high -- $700 million.

In a conference call with analysts, GM CEO Dan Akerson  called Europe a "rather challenging market, not only for GM and Opel, but also for our competition."

GM also lost $100 million in South America.

Most of the money GM made came from sales in North America.  GM made $7.2 billion before taxes in the region.

GM plans to make major structural changes in Europe to reduce its persistent losses there.  

The company also announced it will freeze its existing "defined benefit" pension plan for U.S. salaried workers, who instead will receive contributions to a 401(k) plan.

The move is expected to help GM fully fund its pension plan, which the company says is 88% funded.

GM's market share increased in 2011, both globally and in North America.  The company had 19.2% of the North American market, up .4%, and 13.6% of the market in China, up .7%.

Its global market share was 11.9%, up .4%.

The U.S. Treasury still owns about 26% of General Motors.  It's likely the Treasury will wait until after the November election to sell more of its share.