General Motors Co said on Thursday it would acquire auto finance company AmeriCredit Corp for $3.5 billion in cash in a deal aimed at easing financing terms for subprime car shoppers.

The deal, which remains subject to approval by AmeriCredit's shareholders, would give GM a captive finance arm for the first time since it sold off a controlling stake in GMAC in 2006.

GM dealers have complained that tighter financing terms have cost them sales in a U.S. auto market that has failed to deliver the strong recovery many had anticipated in 2010.

GM, which was restructured by the U.S. government in bankruptcy, is preparing for an initial public offering later this year, people familiar with those discussions have said.

Addressing its lack of a captive finance company removes an uncertainty for GM as it prepares for a stock offering intended to reduce the U.S. government's nearly 61 percent ownership stake.

Under terms of the deal, GM would pay AmeriCredit shareholders $24.50 per share. The stock closed at $19.70 on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Kevin Krolicki, editing by Gerald E. McCormick)