According to reports, President Obama has forced Chrysler into the bankruptcy courts.
Obama claims he had no choice, that the lenders with a stake in Chrysler who refused to agree to the Administration's reorganization plan, which would have forced them to accept a two thirds write-down of the debt owed them by the company, forced the Administration's hand. Among the holdouts were Oppenheimer Funds, Perella Weinberg Partners' Xerion Capital Fund, and Stairway Capital Management, although Perella Weinberg Partners, under what management termed “intense pressure from the White House," has agreed to accept the terms. The New York Times quotes Obama: “They were hoping that everybody else would make sacrifices, and they would have to make none,” Mr. Obama said of the creditors, among them several hedge funds and boutique investment funds. “I don’t stand with them.” The holdouts, however, countered with the very cogent argument that they are secured creditors, who, under US bankruptcy law, are entitled to being paid in full before unsecured creditors (in this case the UAW's Retirees Health Care Fund) are paid anything. They further argued that they were agreeable to taking a 60% writedown on the debt owed them for certain concessions, but that the Administration would not negotiate directly with them, preferring instead to deal only through J.P. Morgan Chase, which, as a recipient of TARP funds, is beholden to the White House, and therefore more pliable. The bankruptcy plan proposed by the Administration will grant the UAW's Retiree Health Care Fund, the primary cause of most of Chrysler's financial woes, a 55% control of Chrysler, in exchange for the union's accepting company stock for 50% of what the automaker owes to the fund. For its part, the Administration agreed to lend the ailing manufacturer another $8 billion, above the $4 billion of taxpayer funds already provided it, and accept a role as a junior partner to the UAW, along with Italian automaker, Fiat, which will kick in its expertise in small car technology in exchange for a minority stake in Chrysler, reported to be 35%. Fiat is supportive of the bankruptcy plan because it will offer that company an opportunity to significantly prune its dealer network, which it sorely needs to do to remain viable itself.