Merger talks between General Motors and privately held Chrysler are moving at a faster pace as potential lenders have thrown their support behind a deal between the two U.S.-based automakers, CNBC has learned.
Chrysler CEO Robert Nardellli said he couldn't comment on market rumors or speculation, but noted that Chrysler has been open about looking for partners and creating alliances. He also conceded that the auto industry is ripe for combinations.
"If you look at the U.S. industry ... it certainly creates an environment for consolidation where you can get synergies of productivity that will allow you to be more competitive not just here in the U.S. but on a global basis."
Sources have told CNBC that GM and Chrysler plan to either reach a deal within the next two weeks or abandon the talks. The key to any deal: Getting GM to embrace whatever conditions Cerberus Capital Management, which owns Chrysler, is pitching.
No deal is assured at this time, and no details were available about how such a merger would be structured.
(See the accompanying video for CNBC's David Faber interview with Robert Nardelli.)
But people at both firms believe there would be big advantages to combining their equity. They also think a merged entity would find it easier to raise capital—possibly from the U.S. government.
The Detroit automakers would hope to receive expedited antitrust approval for any merger, sources said.
JPMorgan Chase , a big holder of Chrysler bank debt, is also pushing for the deal, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
Meanwhile, French car maker Renault denied that it was in talks with Cerberus on possibly buying back the Jeep brand, which Renault sold to Chrysler along with American Motors in 1987.
-- Reuters contributed to this report