(Adds GMAC comment, details)
WASHINGTON, Dec 24 (Reuters) - GMAC LCC won U.S. Federal Reserve approval on Wednesday to become a bank holding company, giving it access to government lending programs, after ownersand Cerberus agreed to cut their stakes.
GM agreed to reduce its 49 percent stake in GMAC to no more than 10 percent, while Cerberus [CBS.UL], which owns 51 percent, will distribute equity interests to investors to get its control to no more than 14.9 percent of voting shares.
A GMAC spokeswoman called it a "key turning point in our 89-year history.
"GMAC believes becoming a bank holding company is the best long-term solution to provide automotive and mortgage financing to consumers and businesses, including auto dealers," spokeswoman Gina Proia said.
Cerberus declined to comment.
The move comes just days after GM and, which is owned by Cerberus, were promised public money from the Treasury-run financial bailout fund to stave off potential bankruptcy.
GM's dealers had said that their customers were having difficulty getting credit from GMAC to buy new cars and were pressing for a swift resolution of GMAC's bid to become a bank.
"In light of the unusual and exigent circumstances affecting the financial markets ... the board has determined that emergency conditions exist that justify expeditious action on this proposal," the Fed said in a statement.
Detroit-based GMAC already has a banking unit that offers certificates of deposit and online savings accounts, but becoming a bank holding company will make it eligible for government support, including guarantees of new debt that it issues. The company could also apply for billions of dollars of capital under the government's $700 billion financial rescue program. (Reporting by Emily Kaiser; Editing by Jan Paschal and Neil Stempleman)