Chrysler's Gain Is U.S. Government's Loss

Treasury says Chrysler has paid back more than $11.2 billion in bailout funds, but U.S. will be on the hook for $1.3 billion.

The U.S. Treasury said it has exited its bailout of Chrysler but likely will not recover $1.3 billion of the funds used to keep the automaker alive in the economic crisis.

The Treasury said it has received $560 million in proceeds from the sale of its remaining stake in Chrysler to Italian automaker Fiat.

With this transaction, "Treasury has fully exited its investment in Chrysler Group under the Troubled Asset Relief Program," the department said in a statement.

Fiat paid $500 million for the government's remaining 6% stake and $60 million for rights, in the consummation of a deal first announced in early June.

The Treasury said it has received more than $11.2 billion in payments of principal, interest and fees from Chrysler, all related to loans from the TARP, which was originally designed to rescue troubled financial institutions.

Chrysler and General Motors required government rescues and underwent bankruptcy reorganizations to survive a severe slump in U.S. auto sales during the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

Both firms emerged from bankruptcy in June 2009. Fiat has been steering Chrysler since then, gradually increasing its share of the No. 3 U.S. automaker.

The purchase of the U.S. Treasury's final stake increased Fiat's stake to 52%, and it plans to raise that to as much as 70% by buying the stakes held by Canadian authorities and the United Auto Workers union.

The repayment came at least six years earlier than expected, Tim Massad, assistant Treasury secretary for financial stability, said.

"This is a major accomplishment and further evidence of the success of the administration's actions to assist the U.S. auto industry, which helped save a million jobs during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression."

U.S. taxpayers still will be on the hook for some of what was loaned to Chrysler before it underwent bankruptcy reorganization.

"Treasury is unlikely to fully recover the difference of $1.3 billion owed by old Chrysler," the department said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2011

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