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Supreme Court Stalls Chrysler Sale to Fiat   June 8th, 2009
Supreme Court will review legality of Obama-brokered deal       


More observations...

Although it remains to be seen what the ultimate outcome will be, the Supreme Court has at least temporarily delayed the Obama-orchestrated sale of Chrysler assets to Fiat.

The Supreme Court threw a wrench into the plans to have a quick bankruptcy process at Chrysler LLC, delaying the company's combination with Italian automaker Fiat.

The matter at hand is in regarding the following:

The Indiana State Police Pension Fund, the Indiana Teacher's Retirement Fund and the state's Major Moves Construction Fund claim the deal unfairly favors the interests of the company's unsecured stakeholders ahead of those of secured debtholders such as themselves.

The funds also challenged the constitutionality of the Treasury Department's use of Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, funds to supply Chrysler's bankruptcy protection financing. They say the Treasury did so without congressional authority.

In other words, the plan that was crammed down bondholders' throats is now being challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court, and the very constitutionality of using TARP funds to bailout the auto industry is being questioned.

This is far from the last word and the Supreme Court could still allow the sale to proceed. But some serious questions are being raised that challenge the Obama administration's invasion into the private sector and their rather unilateral rewriting of contracts to the detriment of secured debtholders.

And those questions are going to be reviewed by the Supreme Court.

This also highlights the questionable hope of the administration back in April to resolve the process by the end of June:

A top administration official said the goal was a "surgical, short" bankruptcy that could be wrapped up in within two months.

"We expect this to be a very short, 30-to-60-day bankruptcy process, during which the company will function normally," the official said. "People will be able to buy cars, they will have their warranties honored, and everything should go on normally."

Auto industry experts warned that Chrysler bond holders and dealers could fight bankruptcy proceedings, delaying the restructuring for months and possibly years.

"This is just nuts," said William Holstein, author of "Why GM Matters: Inside the Race to Transform and American Icon." "They don't know what they're talking about."

Gibbs waved off questions about a bankruptcy process that could last longer than the 60-day target.

Indeed those predictions seem to be panning out. It's possible the Supreme Court could dispose of this challenge quickly, but that's not usually the way things play out.

The hope of getting the Chrysler reorganization done in under two months was probably absurd. It's possible the government will have to throw more money at Chrysler to keep it afloat through a longer-than-two-month bankruptcy which could eventually end in bankruptcy liquidation if Fiat is no longer interested in participating when the process is complete.

    Update Next Day: Unfortunately the Supreme Court let the sale go through without a hearing on the case.

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