Chrysler Deadline Met or Just Chrysler is Dead?

Chrysler working to the bitter end (beginning) to meet Treasury's demands for continued aid.

by on Apr.29, 2009

Once again financial speculators on Wall Street will determine Main Street's fate.

Financial speculators on Wall Street will determine Main Street's fate.

It all comes down to bondholders of $6.9 billion in debt. Chrysler LLC, in the latest version of its restructuring plan, wants to give them $2 billion in cash and shares in a restructured company.

Bondholders are balking, though, and it apparently requires the agreement of almost all of the 46 financial institutions and hedge funds that hold its virtually worthless debt at current trading prices to prevent a bankruptcy.

Chrysler, late yesterday, reached a tentative agreement to an equity swap with its four largest banks that hold 70% of its debt.  But it isn’t clear, if that is enough to force the 42 others to fold. As of this evening, Chrysler was still waiting to hear if  it will be forced into bankruptcy tomorrow by the  U.S. Treasury Department Auto Task Force.

Neither the President and Vice President would confirm a bankruptcy today, and the Treasury Department appears to be using the uncertainty, and media leaks about getting reading for a filing, as a cudgel to force the bondholders to relent.

“I am very pleased that principal banks have reached a deal with Chrysler to restructure the company’s debt so it can achieve viability.  A month ago when I first wrote to the CEOs of Chrysler’s major debtholders they were not even at the table, so this is a very positive development,” said Rep. Gary Peters (D-Michigan), who has been prodding the banks to negotiate with Chrysler. “The remaining debt holders should understand that this deal is better than what they could expect in bankruptcy and I encourage them to accept this fair offer,” he said.  

All the other pieces of the restructuring are basically in place. The Canadian Auto Workers Union and the United Auto Workers Union have cut their labor and benefit costs. By accepting stock for its health care fund, the UAW will end up with 55% of the new company, if ratification of the  revised agreement by members comes through tonight as expected.

The U.S. taxpayer by way of the Treasury Department has lent $4 billion to Chrysler and $6 billion more is offered to get the new company through the global Great Recession.

Fiat Spa is ready to go ahead with a deal that gives it an initial 20% stake in the new Chrysler. Unspecified performance goals from Treasury would then increase Fiat’s stake to 35%, with an option for Fiat to purchase control, after the new Chrysler pays back the $10 billion in U.S. aid.

Daimler Ag has given up its stock in Chrysler LLC and settled pension and loan agreements. Gone and likely quickly forgotten is DaimlerChrysler AG, born 1998, died 2007, when Cerberus Capital Management LP bought 80%. Cerberus took the balance from Daimler AG this week and is willing to give it all to Treasury to get from under its disastrous investment in automaking.

So is it deadline met or Chrysler dead? Wall Street, once again, will determine the fate of Main Street America.

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2 Responses to “Chrysler Deadline Met or Just Chrysler is Dead?”

  1. JackK says:

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  2. Ken Zino says:

    UAW members ratify Chrysler settlement agreement
    DETROIT – UAW members at Chrysler have ratified a settlement agreement with Chrysler, Fiat and the U.S. Treasury.

    Eighty-two percent of production workers and 80 percent of skilled-trades workers voted for the agreement in balloting that took place at UAW Chrysler locations throughout the United States. Ninety percent of office and clerical workers voted in favor of the agreement, and 94 percent of UAW-represented Chrysler engineering workers voted for approval.

    “This has been a challenging time filled with anxiety and uncertainty for our membership,” said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger. “Our members have responded by accepting an agreement that is painful for our active and retired workers, but which helps preserve U.S. manufacturing jobs and gives Chrysler a chance to survive.”

    UAW Vice President General Holiefield, who directs the union’s Chrysler Department, said: “Once again, UAW members have stepped up to the plate and acted responsibly. If other stakeholders will join us in making difficult sacrifices, Chrysler will have a chance to rebuild and participate in the eventual recovery of the U.S. vehicle market.”

    The concessionary settlement agreement, which will take effect on Monday, May 4, meets U.S. Treasury requirements for continued loans to Chrysler Corporation. It includes modifications to the union’s 2007 collective bargaining agreement with Chrysler and modifications to the Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA) trust.

    The settlement agreement includes commitments from Fiat to manufacture a new small car in one of Chrysler’s U.S. facilities, and to share key technology with Chrysler.