Outside advisers to the U.S. Treasury have started lining up the largest bankruptcy loan ever, talking with banks and other lenders about at least $40 billion in financing for General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC, in case the two auto makers need it, said several people familiar with the matter.

While acknowledging the grimness of the task, administration officials involved in the auto talks said they are trying to find a way to restructure the two companies without resorting to bankruptcy proceedings. They stressed the latest efforts were "due diligence" on the part of the government advisers, and that bankruptcy financing may not be necessary.

Still, people involved in talks with senior Obama administration officials said that the administration believes that the option of Chapter 11 filings by the two auto makers needs to be seriously considered.

"Everything is on the table right now," one person involved in the matter said, adding that President Barack Obama doesn't want to see more massive job losses in the auto industry. His administration also doesn't want to anger the United Auto Workers by appearing to push for bankruptcy, this person added.

The initial discussions call for private banks to provide the financing — known as a debtor-in-possession, or DIP, loan — with the government guaranteeing or backstopping the loan. In this scenario, some of the financing would be used to pay back the $17.4 billion the government lent GM and Chrysler late last year.

Treasury advisers are handling the effort and keeping GM and Chrysler informed of the steps through back-door channels, said the people familiar with the matter. The interplay between the government, auto makers and the markets is proving to be complicated.

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