31 December 2009

Administration Throws Good Money After Bad To Increase Control

Washington Post: U.S. takes majority stake in GMAC, giving lender $3.8 billion more in aid

The federal government said Wednesday that it will take majority control of troubled auto lender GMAC and provide an additional $3.8 billion in aid to the company, which has been unable to raise from private investors the money it needs to staunch its losses.

What initially appeared to be a closing act now looks more like year-end portfolio rebalancing, with companies including Citigroup and Bank of America allowed to repay aid even as the government deepens its involvement in mortgage financiers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- and now, GMAC.

The government now owns majority ownership stakes in those three firms, General Motors and insurance giant American International Group. It also holds large stakes in Citigroup and Chrysler.

The additional aid for GMAC underscores both its struggles and its importance to the administration's efforts to revive the auto industry. GMAC, which already has taken $12.5 billion in direct federal aid along with other forms of government support, is the largest lender to General Motors and Chrysler dealerships and to their customers.

Treasury said that it will increase its stake in GMAC to 56 percent from 35 percent. The government also will hold about $14 billion in what amounts to loans that GMAC may eventually repay. The government plans to appoint four of the company's nine directors.

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