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GM, Chrysler debtors pushed

THE United States government is pushing for tougher concessions from the creditors of General Motors Corp and Chrysler LLC, as the troubled auto makers face looming deadlines to restructure or seek bankruptcy protection.

The Treasury Department wants GM to offer its bondholders a small amount of its stock in exchange for their US$29 billion of GM debt, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, citing unnamed people familiar with the matter.

The new offer is much less generous than a similar offer GM made two weeks ago, which would have included cash, new debt and a much larger portion of the company's stock, according to the report.

Representatives from GM and the government's auto task force declined to comment. Messages were left seeking comment from Chrysler.

Advisers to the GM bondholder committee on Friday said they had not had any contact with GM or the auto task force since late last month.

The debt held by GM's bondholders has emerged as a major sticking point in the Detroit auto maker's efforts to restructure.

GM has been surviving on US$13.5 billion in loans from the Treasury Department since the start of the year and last month requested up to US$16.6 billion more.

However, the Obama administration's auto task force ordered GM last week to wring deeper concessions from its union, its bondholders and other stakeholders by June 1 as a condition for more money.

GM has said it is open to the prospect of a quick, "prepackaged" bankruptcy-protection filing as a possible path to viability. However, it prefers to restructure out of court.

Chrysler, meanwhile, has been kept afloat by US$4 billion in government loans.

The auto task force believes the company cannot survive as a standalone company. Last week, it gave Chrysler until May 1 to find a partner, most likely Italian auto maker Fiat SpA, as a condition for another US$6 billion in help.

If Chrysler fails to win more government help, it likely faces liquidation.

The Obama administration is pushing Chrysler's creditors to give up about 85 percent of the nearly US$7 billion in debt they hold, according to a person familiar with the discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Some of the company's senior lenders, however, believe if the company goes into bankruptcy creditors would get a much better offer - more than 70 cents to the dollar, The Wall Street Journal said. Chrysler has said they would get much less.


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