GMAC Financial Services is close to getting approximately $3.5 billion in additional aid from the U.S. government, on top of $12.5 billion already received since December 2008, according to people familiar with the situation.

The announcement, expected within days, will coincide with GMAC taking additional steps to absorb losses related to its mortgage operations, these people said. The cleanup is designed to return the Detroit-based finance company to profitability in the first quarter of 2010, according to one of these people.

A GMAC spokeswoman declined to comment on any potential government action but said, "GMAC has been conducting a strategic review of its business and evaluating options to address the challenges in its mortgage operation." The spokeswoman said GMAC wants to prepare itself to repay the U.S. government.

The willingness by the U.S. Treasury to deepen taxpayer exposure to GMAC reflects the troubled company's importance to the revival of the auto industry. The company was told to raise additional capital as part of government-led stress tests of large banks conducted earlier this year. The tests were to determine whether firms would need more capital to continue lending if the economy deteriorated in 2009 and 2010.

GMAC has only filled a portion of its capital hole and, unlike other banks that participated in the stress tests, has been unable to attract much capital from private investors. The Treasury said earlier this year that it would make as much money available to GMAC as needed to fill its capital hole and projected the firm would need another government infusion of as much as $5.6 billion.

GMAC's capital needs have turned out to be somewhat less than originally envisioned, in part because impact from the bankruptcies of General Motors Corp. and Chrysler Corp. was not as severe as federal regulators originally projected.

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