Obama holds out ‘fervent hope’ for Chrysler and GM

Obama holds out ‘fervent hope’ for Chrysler and GM

Automotive News | April 14, 2009 – 3:31 pm EST


NEW YORK (Reuters) — U.S. President Barack Obama offered a "fervent hope" for Chrysler LLC and General Motors’ survival today as GM bondholders said completing the automaker’s restructuring outside bankruptcy has become increasingly less likely.

Obama said it was the administration’s hope that "in the coming weeks" Chrysler would find a viable business partner and GM would develop a stronger business plan, and GM shares rose more than 6 percent.

"It is our fervent hope that in the coming weeks, Chrysler will find a viable business partner and that GM will develop a business plan that will put it on a path to profitability without endless support from the American taxpayer," he said.

The U.S. auto task force formed to oversee the retooling of GM and Chrysler, both operating under emergency government loans, gave GM 60 days of funding from the end of March to cut deeper and faster to receive additional support.

GM must reach agreements with bondholders to reduce about $28 billion of unsecured debt sharply and with the UAW to cut labor costs and restructure funding for a healthcare trust for union retirees.

Sources familiar with the situation told Reuters last week that GM was in "intense" and "earnest" preparations for a possible bankruptcy filing.

The prospect of GM avoiding bankruptcy is becoming "less likely," which may be starting to cause bondholders to pursue separate bankruptcy strategies, two sources close to government talks said today.

Chrysler must reach a definitive agreement on an alliance with Italy’s Fiat SpA and deals to cut secured debt, labor costs and rework the funding of a healthcare trust for union retirees to receive more support, the task force said.

Without additional government support, Chrysler faces likely liquidation.

Chrysler has about $7 billion of secured first-lien loans from Cerberus Capital Management’s acquisition of the automaker in 2007. Those lenders have thus far refused task force efforts to eliminate most if not all of the debt.

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