Chrysler Group yesterday paid back $7.6 billion in U.S. and Canadian government loans from its 2009 bailout, a move that allows the U.S. automaker to distance itself from an unpopular bailout and deepen its ties with Italian automaker Fiat SpA.
Chrysler said it had made payments of $5.9 billion to the U.S. Treasury and $1.7 billion to the governments of Canada and Ontario to repay loans it received in June 2009.
The repayment puts Chrysler on firmer financial ground and draws it closer to Fiat, two goals investors and bankers have said would make Chrysler more attractive in an initial public offering that could come this year or next.
The automaker said it repaid the original loans in full, more than six years ahead of schedule. Under the original terms, Chrysler had until 2017 to repay the debt.
LONDON – President Barack Obama called the Chrysler payment a “significant milestone” and a sign that the U.S. auto industry is recovering.
Obama was quick to hail the news that could be important in garnering support for his 2012 re-election campaign in the midwestern United States where the auto industry has struggled.
Obama has drawn fire from some conservatives for bailing out portions of the U.S. auto industry two years ago.