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Chrysler CEO: All options still being considered

Chrysler LLC Chief Executive Bob Nardelli said Tuesday that he's encouraged by the focus of President Barack Obama's auto industry task force on job preservation, but he added that all options for Chrysler are still being considered.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Chrysler LLC Chief Executive Bob Nardelli said Tuesday that he's encouraged by the focus of President Barack Obama's auto industry task force on job preservation, but he added that all options for Chrysler are still being considered.

Nardelli said during an appearance on cable network CNBC that the task force hasn't told him that a bankruptcy protection filing at Chrysler is out of the question.

"No they haven't said that," Nardelli said. "What they have said is that they're very intent on preserving, you know, 40,000 or 50,000 direct jobs."

Nardelli said it's crucial that Chrysler get some kind of an indication by March 31 as to if its request for $5 billion in federal aid will be granted, adding that the denial of the aid would be "devastating" for the automaker.

Steven Rattner, a top adviser to the task force, said in an interview with The Associated Press on Monday that the task force was trying to successfully restructure the auto makers during a difficult economic downturn.

"Bankruptcy is not our goal," Rattner said. "Bankruptcy is not an ideal place for any company to be. It is sometimes necessary but something that ideally one wants to avoid and so we're very focused on solving the problem, not on filing for bankruptcy."

Nardelli said he's very pleased with the task force's progress, saying that the team has been working seven days a week, asking questions and collecting data.

"I think we're getting a very fair shake," he said. "I had no sense that they came in with a mandate or preconceived notion."

Chrysler and General Motors Corp. have received a combined $17.4 billion in government loans to stave off bankruptcy and have requested billions in additional aid. The loan agreements negotiated with the Bush administration set a March 31 deadline for restructuring the companies, with the possibility of a 30-day extension.

Rattner said Monday he expected more work would be done on the restructuring beyond the March 31 deadline.