A top adviser to US president Barack Obama’s autos task force does not see bankruptcy as the best option.

Chief adviser Steven Rattner told the Detroit Free press the panel has “a fair amount of power” to encourage company mergers if it sees a need.

Rattner also said the panel wanted to help suppliers and was committed to meeting the 31 March deadlines set by the loan deals with General Motors and Chrysler, adding that decisions on additional aid could come later.

“Bankruptcy is not our goal,” Rattner told the paper. “I’ve been in and around bankruptcy for 26 years as part of my private-sector work [he has a Wall Street deal making background]. It is never a good outcome for any company, and it’s never a first choice.”

Rattner also criticised the automakers’ bondholders for their reluctance to negotiate as part of the restructuring – they have not agreed to the two-thirds reduction in debt the companies were required to pursue as part of the loan deals.