AUTO INDUSTRY

US Treasury finalises $4bn Chrysler loan

The US Treasury finalised the transaction of a four-billion dollar loan to floundering US auto giant Chrysler. Chrysler head Bob Nardelli said the loan would help "bridge the current financial crisis". A GM loan is expected to follow in January.

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AFP - The US Treasury said Friday it has finalized a 4-billion-dollar loan to troubled cash-strapped carmaker Chrysler.

"Treasury today finalized the loan transaction for Chrysler car company and funded the full amount of 4 billion dollars," Brookly McLaughlin, a Treasury spokeswoman, said in a statement.

Chrysler Chairman and CEO Bob Nardelli said the loan would help the company "bridge the current financial crisis."

"This initial loan will allow the Company to continue an orderly restructuring, while pursuing our vision to build the fuel-efficient, high-quality cars and trucks people want to buy, will enjoy driving and will want to buy again," he added in a statement.

The loan is part of a 13.4-billion-dollar rescue package the US government approved in December for General Motors and Chrysler to stave off collapse amid tight credit and dismal sales.

The first segment of the bailout provides four billion dollars each to GM and to Chrysler, the smallest of the Big Three US automakers.

GM, the largest US automaker, was to receive an additional 5.4 billion dollars in mid-January and would be eligible for a further 4 billion dollars from February pending congressional action. Treasury has also provided six billion dollars in aid to GMAC, GM's financial arm.

Under the agreement, the automakers will have to prove their viability by March 31 or the government could require the funds to be repaid within 30 days.

"The objective of this program is to prevent a significant disruption of the American automotive industry that poses a systemic risk to financial market stability and will have a negative effect on the real economy of the United States," the Treasury said on its website Wednesday.

The Treasury added it would determine eligibility of participants in the program on a case-by-case basis.

The Treasury announced on December 19 a massive rescue of GM and Chrysler, facing a threat of imminent bankruptcy that could create economic chaos and throw millions out of work across the country.

The money for the auto industry injection comes from the 700-billion-dollar financial industry bailout approved in 2008.

Ford Motor Company, the second-largest US automaker, has asked the government for a line of credit as a backstop in the face of plunging sales.
  

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