GMAC wants to be part of federal rescue program

WASHINGTON -- GMAC Financial Services wants to be part of the federal government's $700 billion rescue of the nation's financial system, the company said Monday.

"GMAC has been in discussions with the government on a multidimensional level," said GMAC spokeswoman Toni Simonetti. "We are interested in exploring options that are available to us through the federal government's tool kit that was implemented under the new legislation."

Simonetti declined to say whether GMAC wants to sell troubled assets to the government or to sell a stake in the company to taxpayers.

The Bush administration sold Congress on the rescue plan by saying it was needed primarily to buy troubled securities backed by home mortgages. But so far, the Treasury Department has used the funds to steady the financial system by putting cash into financial institutions and acquiring stakes in banks.

During the debate on the legislation last month, lawmakers said they expected other kinds of troubled assets to be eligible, including those linked to auto loans.

Auto lenders say frozen credit markets are contributing to the near-collapse of vehicle sales. They want the government to take steps to thaw the markets.

GMAC, which makes mortgage loans as well as auto loans, appears to be the first major automotive lender to state publicly its interest in direct participation in the rescue plan.

"We are exploring a number of avenues to get some relief to fund our businesses," Simonetti said.

Cerberus Capital Management owns 51 percent of GMAC, and General Motors owns the rest.

Last week, Ford Motor Credit Co. said it had registered with the Federal Reserve to participate in a new program aimed at easing the sale of commercial paper, which companies use to raise money for day-to-day operations. Ford Credit has not decided if it will take part in the program.

Separately, published reports today indicated that GM has approached the Treasury Department about getting taxpayers to finance its efforts to combine in some way with Chrysler LLC.

GM Washington spokesman Greg Martin said today he could not confirm the reports.

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