Wed May 20, 2009 5:39am EDT
By Chelsea Emery and Tom Hals

NEW YORK (Reuters) – If General Motors Corp (GM.N) files for bankruptcy, as widely expected, its healthy assets will be quickly sold to a new company owned by the U.S. government, a source familiar with the situation said on Tuesday.

The source, who was not cleared to speak with the media and would not be identified, said the U.S. government would pay for the assets by assuming the automaker’s $6 billion of secured debt and forgiving the bulk of the $15.4 billion of emergency loans that the U.S. Treasury has provided to GM.

The government is negotiating the terms on which it will assume GM’s secured debt and might make an the offer to holders of the debt that is far superior to the one made to Chrysler LLC’s secured lenders, the source said.

Chrysler filed for bankruptcy in April and has proposed paying its secured lenders about 28 cents on the dollar.

The new GM is likely to distribute stock in the company to GM’s unions in return for concessions on wages and benefits, the source said.

The percentage of stock given to the unions, bondholders and other creditors whose debt is not repaid by new GM has not been determined, the source said.

In addition, the government would extend a credit line to the new company, the source said.

The remaining assets of GM would stay in bankruptcy protection to satisfy other outstanding claims.

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