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GM's `Time Is Very Short' for U.S. Aid
General Motors Corp., hammered by the worst auto market in 25 years, needs U.S. aid because ``time is very short'' to stop its collapse, says Roger Altman, the former Treasury official advising GM in merger talks with Chrysler LLC.

With the government offering a $700 billion rescue for banks, it should have enough to assist GM, Chrysler and Ford Motor Co., Altman, 62, said in an interview. Altman, now chief executive officer of Evercore Partners Inc., helped with the 1979 Chrysler bailout plan as an assistant Treasury secretary.

``The consequences of a collapse by GM or all three would be very severe,'' he said. ``The impact would be widespread,'' with jobs lost by the companies and their suppliers.

The completion of yesterday's U.S. elections gives GM and other automakers a chance to renew their case for aid with President-elect Barack Obama, who said last week that helping the industry would be a top priority.

One or more automaker failures ``would be a difficult way for a brand-new administration'' to take office, said Altman, an Obama supporter whose Treasury Department service also included working as deputy secretary under President Bill Clinton.

GM rose 12 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $5.84 at 12:55 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading, while Ford fell 3 cents to $2.13.

Altman has been leading the Evercore team advising GM. Two people familiar with the matter say the group includes William Repko, co-chief of Evercore's restructuring unit, and Daniel Celentano, a former Bear Stearns Cos. banker who has done work for GM. Morgan Stanley is also representing the biggest U.S. automaker.  Bloomberg

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