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GM completes sale of Saab to Spyker

Tue, 23 Feb 2010

General Motors today completed the sale of its Swedish Saab brand to Dutch luxury sports car maker Spyker Cars NV, marking the first successful sale of one of its four unwanted U.S. brands.

The transaction combines Saab Automobile and its 3,400 employees with Spyker Cars and its 110-plus workers.

“Saab's future is now secure,” Spyker CEO Victor Muller said in a statement. “We will be concentrating all of our efforts into reviving Saab and transforming it into a sustainable and profitable company with the confidence to be bold.”

The sale saves Saab from what appeared to be doom after Swedish supercar maker Koenigsegg Group AB backed out of a planned purchase in November. But Spyker--whose logo bears a Latin phrase that translates, “For the tenacious, no road is impossible”--made an offer during Saab's wind down.

Negotiations took weeks, and skeptics included GM CEO Ed Whitacre. But in late January, Spyker inked an agreement to buy Saab.

Completion of the Saab deal leaves GM facing a Feb. 28 deadline to complete a planned sale of Hummer to China's Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co. Saturn and Pontiac are being shut down.

Spyker is paying GM $74 million in cash and $326 million in redeemable preference shares.

Muller had already secured the $50 million needed to close the deal with GM, with the remaining $24 million due in July.

He has also vowed that the new group will reach profitability in 2012, although neither Saab nor Spyker have made any money in the past decade.

Muller said today the company will focus on “real Saabs, Saab Saabs” and draw on the Swedish brand's heritage.

“We will reinforce the emotional experience between Saab drivers and their cars,” he said.

Saab's revival centers on a new 9-5 that launches this year, the arrival of the 9-4X crossover in 2011 and the debut of a new 9-3 in 2012.

The Swedish brand produced just 20,791 cars last year as global sales slumped to 39,903 from 94,751 in 2008. But Muller aims to raise production to pre-crisis levels of about 100,000 to 125,000 within two years.

By Chrissie Thompson- Automotive News