The U.S. Treasury Department said it will cut its stake in Ally Financial Inc. (ALLY) by selling stock on the open market in its first divestiture since an initial public offering in April.

The U.S. holds 75.1 million shares, a stake of about 16 percent in the Detroit-based auto lender, the Treasury Department said today in an e-mailed statement.

The U.S. owned as much as 74 percent after a bailout through the Troubled Asset Relief Program designed to help prop up the auto market in the financial crisis. The Treasury cut its stake through the IPO that priced shares at $25. Shares of Ally slipped 3 cents to $23.42 at 9:45 a.m. in& New York.

"We will prudently exit the remaining Ally investment, balancing speed with maximizing returns for taxpayers," Charmian Uy, chief investment officer of the Treasury Department, said in the statement.

The U.S. invested $17.2 billion in Ally and has recovered about $17.8 billion through asset sales, according to the statement, which didn’t specify the size or timing of the latest plan.

Today's announcement is "another step toward ultimately exiting the Troubled Asset Relief Program and delivering additional value to shareholders, including the U.S. taxpayer," Gina Proia, a spokeswoman for Ally, said in an e-mailed statement.

Chief Executive Officer Michael Carpenter said in February that it was possible for the company to leave the TARP program by the end of this year, and "hopefully before that."

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