Head of Obama auto team quits

July 14, 2009

Head of Obama auto team quits

Rattner’s work on bankruptcies is done

BY JUSTIN HYDE
FREE PRESS WASHINGTON STAFF

WASHINGTON — Steven Rattner, the Wall Street financier who drew the Obama administration’s road map for guiding General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC through bankruptcy, will resign from the president’s auto task force, the administration said Monday.

Rattner’s decision to step down after fewer than five months on the panel follows the administration’s successful plan to march GM and Chrysler through what Rattner once called "quick rinse" bankruptcies, backed by government aid that totals $85 billion. Rattner also carried out the firing of former GM Chairman Rick Wagoner as part of the government’s rescue.

With the new GM emerging from bankruptcy last week, Rattner and other officials had said there would be less need for daily interaction with auto industry officials. In a statement, the U.S. Treasury Department said Rattner "has decided to transition back to private life and his family in New York City."

"We are extremely grateful to Steve for his efforts in helping to strengthen GM and Chrysler, recapitalize GMAC and support the American auto industry," said Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. "I hope that he takes another opportunity to bring his unique skills to government service in the future."

The exact date of Rattner’s departure hasn’t been determined. The Treasury Department said Ron Bloom would oversee the auto task force after Rattner leaves. Rattner declined to comment.

The task force job had been the first in public service for Rattner, whose wealth was reported in government financial-disclosure forms to total at least $188 million. Before the task force, Rattner had a long career as a Wall Street dealmaker.

Earlier this year, Rattner told the Free Press that bankruptcy was not the task force’s goal. But using a quick sale of assets in bankruptcy became the government’s method to slash the automakers’ debts while winning steep concessions from investors and workers.

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