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GM slated to get $4b more in aid

By Globe Wire Services
February 17, 2009
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WASHINGTON - The US government will release $4 billion in additional aid to General Motors Corp. today as planned, a White House aide said yesterday, ahead of the deadline for the automaker to submit a new survival plan.

The aide said Chrysler LLC's request for additional aid would be treated as a new request and dealt with separately.

To date, GM has received $9.4 billion in federal aid that has allowed it to stay in operation since the start of the year. It is widely expected to seek additional assistance with the restructuring plan it must submit today.

Chrysler, controlled by Cerberus Capital Management, has been granted $4 billion in federal aid and is seeking an additional $3 billion.

Meanwhile, President Obama has opted against naming a "car czar," instead asking Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers to head a task force on revamping the auto industry.

Ron Bloom, a United Steelworkers union adviser and former Lazard Ltd. vice president, will also join the team.

The president was under pressure to say who would handle the issue before today, when GM and Chrysler must give progress reports on plans to restructure as a condition of $17.4 billion in US Treasury loans. The task force puts an end to reports Obama would recruit a well-known figure to serve as the so-called car czar, an approach that had some support in the auto industry.

After Congress failed to approve a bailout for the automakers, then-President Bush's administration authorized loans on Dec. 19. That effectively made the Treasury secretary the car czar, with responsibility for making sure the companies meet deadlines.

Geithner will remain Obama's official designee to oversee the restructuring. The Treasury secretary can recall the aid if the automakers fail to show by March 31 that they have a plan to become profitable.

Geithner and Summers will coordinate responses "that include Energy and Transportation as well as the economic team."

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