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By Chelsea Emery and Tom Hals
NEW YORK, May 19 (Reuters) - General Motors Corp’s (GM.N) plan for a bankruptcy filing involves a quick sale of the company’s healthy assets to a new company initially owned by the U.S. government, a source familiar with the situation said on Tuesday.
The source, who would not be named because he was not cleared to speak with the media, did not specify a purchase price. The new company is expected to honor the claims of secured lenders, possibly in full, according to the source.
The remaining assets of GM would stay in bankruptcy protection to satisfy other outstanding claims.
GM has about $6 billion in secured debt, including a secured revolving credit and bank debt.
The government’s plans include giving stakes in the new company to GM’s union and bondholders, although the ownership structure of the company is still being negotiated, said the source who is familiar with the company’s plans.
In addition, the government would extend a credit line to the new company and forgive the bulk of the $15.4 billion in emergency loans that the U.S. has already provided to GM, the source said.
The government has given GM until June 1 to restructure its operations to lower its debt burden and employee costs.
If those talks failed, the company has said it would follow rival Chrysler LLC into bankruptcy.
Setting up a new company to buy the healthy assets is aimed at reassuring consumers who might not be willing to make a major purchase from a bankrupt company, fearing it would not honor warranties or provide service.
The board of the new company would be established with the tacit approval of the government. Fritz Henderson, who took the helm of GM earlier this year after the government pushed out Rick Wagoner, would likely head the new company, the source said.
GM could not be immediately reached for comment.
GM shares were up about 9 percent at $1.29. (Editing by Gerald E. McCormick)