WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama shepherded Chrysler LLC into a historic bankruptcy Thursday, backed by more than $8 billion in new government aid designed to allow a partnership to emerge in 30 to 60 days.

The dramatic move, supported by the United Auto Workers and Chrysler’s major lenders, signals to bondholders at General Motors Corp. that the Obama auto task force will act on its vow to take GM into a similar bankruptcy if they do not agree to swap their GM debt for shares in a reworked GM.

Obama emphasized Thursday that the move was meant to secure Chrysler’s future and a return on the government’s investment, and that it was the best route to preserve jobs at the third-largest U.S. automaker. But as part of the plan, Chrysler said most of its factories will shut down Monday, and will restart when the company emerges from bankruptcy.

“The necessary steps have been taken to give one of America’s most storied companies a new lease on life,” Obama said.

But the president also criticized a group of investment firms and hedge funds that did not agree to a $2.25 billion cash offer to cancel $6.9 billion in Chrysler’s debt, saying they were holding out “for the prospect of an unjustified taxpayer-funded bailout.” Chrysler’s main task in bankruptcy will be to force that deal on those lenders, which the administration said it had the necessary votes from enough Chrysler debt holders to accomplish.

“They were hoping that everybody else would make sacrifices, and they would have to make none. Some demanded twice the return that other lenders were getting,” Obama said.

“I don’t stand with them,” he added. “I stand with Chrysler’s employees and their families and communities. I stand with Chrysler’s management, its dealers, and its suppliers. I stand with the millions of Americans who own and want to buy Chrysler cars. I don’t stand with those who held out when everybody else is making sacrifices.”

Chrysler Chairman Robert Nardelli, who will leave once the company emerges from bankruptcy, said it would continue to operate its three brands and Mopar parts service.

“My No. 1 priority has been to preserve Chrysler and the thousands of people who depend on its success. While I am excited about the creation of the global alliance, I am personally disappointed that today Chrysler has filed for Chapter 11,” Nardelli said. “This was not my first choice.”

Fiat Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne said the deal “will create a powerful new automotive company, while helping preserve jobs and a manufacturing industry that is critically important to the U.S. and Canadian economies.”

Under Chrysler’s bankruptcy, filed in New York Thursday, the government will provide $3.3 billion for Chrysler to operate in bankruptcy. UAW’s health care trust fund will own 55 percent of the new Chrysler, while Fiat will hold 20 percent, the U.S. government will hold 8 percent and the Canadian and Ontario governments will together hold 2 percent.

Fiat’s stake will grow to 35 percent if Fiat meets certain milestones, such as building new models in Chrysler plants. In addition to the $3.3 billion, the government will also provide up to $4.7 billion for the new Chrysler once it emerges.

The Obama administration will also give additional aid to GMAC so that it can take over lending to Chrysler’s customers and dealers from Chrysler Financial, which the government has deemed not viable. And the Canadian government will also provide new financial aid to Chrysler’s operations in that country.

The administration portrays its “surgical” bankruptcy of one of Detroit’s major automakers as just a legal chore, rather than the threat to Chrysler’s existence and the entire U.S. auto industry that Chrysler itself had described less than three months ago. Administration officials said Chrysler would operate as usual during bankruptcy, and that no additional job cuts were anticipated as of now.

The government will have a say in helping Chrysler and Fiat select a new board of directors.

The number of Chrysler dealers, now about 3,200, will be reduced through bankruptcy, but the administration officials did not say how many would be eliminated.

John McEleney, chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association, said Chrysler and the government should not use bankruptcy to shed dealers.

“A rapid reduction in dealer numbers would not only do absolutely nothing to improve Chrysler’s viability in the short term, but it would actually work against Chrysler’s stated objective to increase revenue and cut costs,” he said.

The decision to take Chrysler into bankruptcy came after lenders balked at the original $2 billion offer, as well as an increase of $250 million from Treasury on Wednesday evening. The White House and Michigan’s congressional delegation pressed the holdouts to agree by 6 p.m. Wednesday, but no deal was reached.

The U.S. Treasury had guaranteed the warranties of Chrysler and General Motors Corp. in part to assuage worries of customers who might think twice before buying from a bankrupt automaker. GM has a June 1 deadline to reach its own debt agreement or go through a similar move.

The UAW late Wednesday night overwhelmingly ratified cost-cutting changes in its labor contract that freeze wages for Chrysler’s 26,000 U.S. hourly workers and slash more than $5 billion from what Chrysler was to pay into a retiree health care trust next year.

Michigan’s lawmakers echoed Obama in criticizing the holdouts among investment funds, but saying bankruptcy offered Chrysler the best chance for survival.

Chrysler’s restructuring is “truly unprecedented and will make it possible for Chrysler to live on as a great American car company supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country,” said Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich.

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