WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department on Monday announced modifications to its plan to restart the market for toxic assets weighing on banks' balance sheets, including an extended application deadline.

While the Treasury initially said it will approve up to five asset managers, the department on Monday suggested an openness to considering a larger number of managers for the program.

In a March 23 release, the Treasury noted that fund managers will be pre-qualified based on certain criteria, including an ability to raise capital and demonstrated experience investing in the eligible asset classes and a minimum threshold of eligible assets under management.

In Monday's documents, however, the Treasury made clear that firms that don't meet all of the criteria will not necessarily disqualify a proposal. The Treasury added that it is particularly interested in program participation by small, minority and women-owned businesses.

"There are several ways smaller firms can partner with fund mangers including as an asset manager, an equity partner or a fund raising partner," the Treasury said in a notice Monday morning. "Other ways to participate include providing such services as trade execution, valuation, and other important financial services."

To better accommodate increased participation, the Treasury also announced that it is extending the deadline for email submissions of applications to 5 p.m. EDT on Friday, April 24. Additionally, the Treasury now expects to inform applicants regarding preliminary qualification on or before Friday, May 15.

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