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GM talks likely to June 1, not past: Obama adviser

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - General Motors Corp restructuring efforts are likely to go right up to the June 1 deadline set by the Obama administration, but not beyond, a White House economic adviser said on Friday.

“I think the government is going to let it play out but not in a passive sense,” Austan Goolsbee, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers and a member of the autos task force, said in an interview on Reuters Television.

“There’s no question that if everybody came to agreement early, they could do something earlier than the deadline but I think the deadline is the last date,” he said in an interview on the White House lawn. “I doubt seriously they’re going to let it go past the stated deadline.”

GM and the United Auto Workers union on Thursday reached a tentative agreement to cut hourly labor costs and restructure the funding for $20 billion owed to a union-aligned trust for retiree healthcare.

Analysts have said that puts the focus now on GM bondholders who are being asked to forgive debt in exchange for a 10 percent stake in a reorganized company.

Representatives of the bondholders have rejected that offer as insufficient. The U.S. Treasury would hold a majority stake in a reorganized company under GM’s proposal. The UAW would hold 39 percent and current shareholders would get 1 percent.

Goolsbee said GM bondholders were wrong if they assumed that the government support for the automaker would fund a bailout for creditors.

“You know the bondholders are going to have to take some haircut. What we’ve seen over past months is the bondholders in some cases holding out thinking that the government will step in and bail out the car companies and we’ll get paid off,” Goolsbee said.

“I think what the president outlined in his remarks pretty clearly was that that’s not going to happen and everybody has got to put some skin in the game,” he said.

GM’s smaller rival Chrysler LLC filed for bankruptcy on April 30 after failing to get an agreement from all of its secured creditors on debt restructuring terms.

“Usually these things, and as you saw with Chrysler, go right up to the deadline,” Goolsbee said.

“They’ve got to work through every possible scenario and figure out how much money would be needed to make the restructuring go, what formats it would take, what steps they have to take legally, and I think this is just part of that process,” he said.

Reporting by Soyoung Kim, David Bailey and Kevin Krolicki in Detroit and July Vorman and Andy Sullivan in Washington

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