Rattner to join Obama administration as auto advisor

The Quadrangle Group’s co-founder and managing principal will step down from the firm to assume his new role with the US government, where he will advise Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and National Economic Council director Lawrence Summers on the auto industry.

Steve Rattner, a co-founder of media-focused private equity firm Quadrangle Group, is joining the US Department of Treasury as an advisor on the automotive sector.

Rattner, who will leave Quadrangle for the new role with the administration of US President Barack Obama, will directly advise Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and National Economic Council director Lawrence Summers.

Joshua Steiner, co-founder of Quadrangle, and Michael Huber, who joined the firm in 2000 at its inception, will serve as the firm’s co-presidents.

“The Obama administration’s selection of Steve [Rattner] represents … a rare opportunity for him to help facilitate our country’s economic recovery,” the firm said in a statement. “While we will clearly miss Steve, we recognise the utmost importance of this appointment.”

Both Steiner and Huber were previously colleagues of Rattner’s at Lazard Frères, where Rattner was deputy chairman and deputy chief executive officer. The two were members of Lazard’s media and telecommunications group, which Rattner founded. Huber was also with Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, where he worked in the media and telecommunications groups.

Rattner was the top candidate for the role of “car czar” in the Obama administration, but the US President nixed that idea earlier this month in favour of creating a task force led by the Treasury secretary on the industry’s restructuring.

Specifically, the task force will administer a more than $17 billion bailout of General Motors and Cerberus Capital Management-backed Chrysler. The two companies submitted restructuring plans recently as part of their obligations under the bailout plan that will determine future government support.

Rattner has been a major political donor to Democratic candidates in the US, including handing over more than $18,000 to Obama's presidential campaign last year, and thousands of dollars to the Democrat Senatorial campaign committee in 2007, according to records from campaignmoney.com

Quadrangle manages more than $6 billion of capital, and invests between $100 million and $250 million in media and communications companies. The firm has completed more than 20 investments.