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U.S. auto giant Chrysler files for bankruptcy

chrysler043009_optBY KENT KLEIN
VOA NEWS

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Barack Obama said the nation's third-largest automaker, Chrysler, will file for bankruptcy. Chrysler will continue to operate, and will merge with the Italian car company Fiat.

President Obama said the agreement with Fiat will give Chrysler a new lease on life.

"I am pleased to announce that Chrysler and Fiat have formed a partnership that has a strong chance of success. It is a partnership that will save more than 30,000 jobs at Chrysler and tens of thousands of jobs at suppliers, dealers and other businesses that rely on this company," he said.

Chrysler will receive as much as $6 billion in government money in addition to $4 billion it has already received in emergency loans.

Talks led by the U.S. Treasury failed to reach a deal to reduce Chrysler's debt to its creditors, so the automaker will enter into bankruptcy.

Mr. Obama said that does not mean that Chrysler will stop making automobiles.

"This is not a sign of weakness, but rather one more step on a clearly charted path to Chrysler's revival. Because of the fact that the United Auto Workers [union] and many of the banks -- the biggest stakeholders in this whole process -- have already aligned, have already agreed, this process will be quick," he said.

The United Auto Workers union approved a cost-cutting agreement late Wednesday. And the Treasury Department reached a $2 billion deal earlier in the week with four banks that hold most of Chrysler's debt.

A bankruptcy filing would allow a judge to decide how much creditors would get while Chrysler continues to build cars.

Talks with creditors broke down late Wednesday after more than 40 investment funds rejected Treasury's offer to retire $6.9 billion of Chrysler debt in exchange for $2.2 billion in cash.

The president criticized the creditors, who he said held out for the prospect of an unjustified, taxpayer-funded bailout.

"They were hoping that everybody else would make sacrifices and they would have to make none. Some demanded twice the return that other lenders were getting. I do not stand with them," said the president.

The U.S. government will be an investor in a restructured Chrysler and will help choose its new board of directors. But the Obama administration said it does not plan to run the company.

The president said Fiat will contribute billions of dollars in advanced technology as well as a global sales network.

 

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