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US autos task force hires bankruptcy lawyer

US President Barack Obama's task force on the auto industry has hired a bankruptcy lawyer to advise it on its options.

The task force hired Matthew Feldman, a partner in the business reorganization and restructuring department at New York law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, the law firm said in a news release yesterday.

Feldman will be advising US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Lawrence Summers, the director of the National Economic Council, on reorganization efforts by auto manufacturers and suppliers, Willkie said in a statement.

He will leave the firm by the end of March to start his position in Washington, according to Willkie.

A US Treasury official also confirmed Feldman's hiring, adding this would not change the task force's approach in restructuring the auto industry. He will work to help analyze restructuring options with the rest of the teams, the official said.

The US government also has been working with bankruptcy and restructuring lawyers at law firms Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP and Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal, as well as turnaround specialists at investment bank Rothschild. Those advisors have been working with officials on the taxpayer- backed restructuring of General Motors Corp and Chrysler LLC.

General Motors shares fell almost 12 percent in after hours electronic trading after the news.

Feldman has worked on both in court and out of court restructurings, according to his firm's website. He also represented investors that bid for assets in the Chapter 11 restructuring of auto parts supplier Dana Holding Corp, the site showed.

Members of the administration's task force toured GM and Chrysler facilities in the Detroit area earlier this week, checking new technology and meeting with company executives.

The panel faces a March 31 deadline to determine whether GM and Chrysler can be commercially viable and deserving of more government aid. The two received a US$17.4 billion bailout in December and have asked for an additional US$22 billion.

In after hours electronic trading General Motors shares fell to US$2.40, down from a closing price of US$2.72 on the New York Stock Exchange yesterday.


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