The Chrysler bondholders’ enviable deal

By Felix Salmon
May 19, 2009

Scott Sperling has some home truths for Chrysler bondholders whining about how they’re being treated unfairly:

The plan demands that Chrysler’s current and future retirees take equity in lieu of guaranteed benefits. Fiat must agree to take only stock in payment for billions of dollars worth of needed technology. And the unions must accept lower wages alongside significant plant closures and job losses. These policies inflict pain across the board. Unfortunately, this situation requires it.

Interestingly, only the debtholders are being given the opportunity to take significant cash out of Chrysler. For all the other stakeholders, any return depends upon the difficult work and investment necessary for long-term success. This is hard, but this is capitalism.

I like this way of looking at things: if the bondholders would really rather have equity than cash, I’m sure they can come to some deal with the UAW, or even with the US government, to do a swap — basically buying a stake in the post-bankruptcy carmaker. But they won’t, because they don’t really want equity at all — they just want more cash, despite the fact that nobody else is getting any cash at all.


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Stunningly, no mention of the “bondholders” (really a 1st lien term loan) having a first lien on all assets. You just lump them in with all “stakeholders”.

Posted by von Pepe | Report as abusive

Well, they’re secured. If they don’t get 100% of what they’re owed, my understanding is that they can just foreclose on the security. In this case, that’s probably all of Chrysler’s assets, including plants, equipment and intellectual property.

Given that, what’s to keep the secured investors from foreclosing on the assets, hiring the (ex-) Chrysler employees they need and then making a deal with Fiat?

Posted by Chris | Report as abusive

The issue for the bondholders is a far less than ‘enviable’ deal. They were forced by the US Commander-in-Thief to take a 10% stake in a company where they held 40% of the debt in secured instruments and a union that held far less UNsecured debt received nearly a 50% stake. Gee, I don’t think thats an ‘enviable’ position. It seems like another group being victimized by that “Change” virus thats going around. It makes you sick of your president, takes most of your money, and only leaves some change.

Posted by Freedom_is_Good | Report as abusive