Chrysler's lenders and a Canadian union continued talks on Friday with less than a week to a U.S. government deadline to cut deals, as General Motors Corp drew $2 billion more in government aid.
GM has been operating under $13.4 billion of emergency loans from the U.S. government. The draw adds working capital for the automaker. The U.S. Treasury could lend another $3 billion to GM.
The administration has not yet extended new money to Chrysler, which has been operating on $4 billion of emergency loans, but officials said they were working around the clock to avert a Chrysler bankruptcy filing and facilitate an alliance between Chrysler and Italy's Fiat SpA.
The struggles of its two U.S. competitors overshadowed Ford Motor Co results on Friday. Ford, which has not sought emergency government loans, posted a $1.4 billion loss that was less than analysts had expected and said it was on track to at least break even in 2011.
Ford also said its cash burn rate was substantially lower in the first quarter than it had been in the two proceeding quarters and was likely to decrease further as the year progressed and its shares soared as much as 20 percent.
But Chrysler remained the main focus of the North American auto sector. It faces an April 30 deadline to reach deals that would cut its debt, labor costs and cement an alliance with Fiat to satisfy the Obama administration.
Chrysler has been operating under $4 billion of emergency U.S. government loans and would need to complete those agreements to maintain its funding and receive more. Without additional support, Chrysler could liquidate.
A critical part of the Chrysler restructuring is reducing about $7 billion of first-lien secured debt generated when the automaker broke away from Daimler AG in 2007. Daimler retained a nearly 20 percent stake in Chrysler.
Lenders have balked at taking a severe haircut on the first-lien debt, but they made a new offer to the U.S. Treasury on Friday, a source briefed on the matter told Reuters.
Talks between Treasury and the lenders have intensified as the deadline approaches. On Wednesday, the Treasury offered the lenders $1.5 billion and a 5 percent equity stake in a restructured Chrysler in exchange for the debt.
The lenders had offered to retain about $4.5 billion in debt and take a 40 percent stake in a new Chrysler supported by government investment and the Fiat deal. The new offer cut that to $3.75 billion and dropped a requirement that Fiat make a $1 billion additional investment in Chrysler.
Chrysler, about 80 percent controlled by Cerberus Capital Management, told its U.S. dealers on Friday that it was making progress in its restructuring talks with the U.S. government and had no plans to file for bankruptcy before the end of month government deadline.
On Thursday, Canadian Auto Workers President Ken Lewenza told reporters that the union expected to complete a cost-savings agreement with Chrysler on Friday.
The CAW said it would provide an update on negotiations at a press conference at 8 p.m.
Canada's Industry Minister Tony Clement said on Friday that bankruptcy protection would not be the government's preferred option for Chrysler.
The immediate deadlines for Chrysler partly eclipsed General Motors Corp struggle. The Obama administration rejected a GM restructuring plan, ousted its chief executive and told the automaker to cut deeper and move faster if it wanted to continue to receive government support.
On Thursday, GM announced plans to slash production in North America over the next three months.
GM said on Friday that the trustee for a fund created to allow GM employees to put savings into company stock had sold all of its shares. The sales started on March 31, the day after the Obama administration rejected the automaker's restructuring plans, and concluded on Friday.
GM said the trustee was authorized to sell the shares if it determined there was a serious question about GM's short-term viability as a going concern without resorting to bankruptcy or no possibility in the short term of recouping substantial proceeds from the sale of stock in bankruptcy proceedings.
In Europe, auto sector consolidation remained the focus.
GM is looking to spin off its German unit Opel and UK's Vauxhall Motors and is seeking investors. Fiat and Magna International are possible investors.
Armin Schild, a labor leader who holds a seat on Opel's supervisory board, rejected the idea of a Fiat bid for Opel, preferring an investor such as Magna, a Canadian parts maker.
Fiat sought to play down expectations that it was about to make an offer for Opel.
(Reporting by David Lawder John Crawley, Poornima Gupta, John McCrank, Kevin Krolicki, Jui Chakravorty Das, David Bailey, Gilles Castonguay and John O'Donnell; Editing by Toni Reinhold)