Chrysler Corp. said yesterday it has reached an agreement with approximately 150 banks and other lenders permitting the company to eliminate more than $1.1 billion in debt in return for cash and preferred Chrysler stock.
The agreement should make it possible for Chrysler to obtain $400 million in federally guaranteed loan funds, assuming that the government's Chrysler Loan Guarantee Board gives final approval to the financing plan. It is expected to do so today.
The key to the settlement was Chrysler's agreement to pay $68 million to its lenders by the end of March, a concession that was demanded by a small group of banks centered in New York.
The Washington Post reported incorrectly yesterday that the payment to the lenders would be about $30 million.
The payment is equal to $5 5/8 cents on the dollar on the $1.1 billion owed by Chrysler to the lenders, a group of U.S. and foreign banks, and several insurance companies. An earlier financing plan worked out in the final days of the Carter administration provided that Chrysler could pay off about half of its $1.1 billion in debts at 30 cents to the dollar in quarterly payments beginning in May.
A group of lenders led by Citibank and Irving Trust Co. refused to accept this formula out of concern about the possible precedent that could be set in writing off such a large corporate debt, a bank official said. Some of the banks also are worried that Chrysler won't be able to make the payments and thus wanted cash immediately for a portion of the debt.
The agreement reached this week is a compromise, requiring a cash payment but putting off the debt until 30 days after the closing settlement on the $400 million loan guarantee or March 31, whichever comes first, sources said.