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Investor group wants to buy Saturn, sell overseas brands

Wed, 15 Apr 2009

An investor group called Telesto Ventures says it wants to acquire Saturn's retail operations and provide dealers with vehicles from General Motors through 2011 and mostly overseas manufacturers thereafter.

A GM spokesman said today the group's proposal is legitimate and "very interesting."

"I can tell you this is one of the interested parties with Saturn, and we have been working with them throughout this process," said spokesman Steve Janisse. "There are other interested parties as well who we're working with. But I can't speculate on where all this will go."

Telesto spokesman John Pappanastos says his group is in discussions with several unnamed foreign manufacturers.

He says Telesto includes a private equity firm, Black Oak Partners LLC, based in Oklahoma City, and several other investors. It's not clear how much money is backing Telesto and what auto experience the group has.

More information being presented

Meanwhile, a Saturn task force led by consultant Steve Girsky was scheduled today to present to some Saturn dealers its research on spinning off Saturn Corp.

"We will provide our retailers with an update about the feasibility study and where it stands and what the next step is," Janisse said. "We'll do that either later this week or early next week."

According to Telesto's press release, the products in the Saturn dealerships would have various brand names and could be sold elsewhere. Pappanastos says Telesto prefers small, fuel-efficient vehicles.

"It's similar to a Best Buy model in that customers deal with Best Buy because of the customer experience not because they are the only place to buy a Samsung or a Sony TV," Pappanastos says.

As of April 5, Saturn had 384 rooftops in the United States. Pappanastos says the plans would save 12,000 to 15,000 retail jobs.

By Jamie LaReau- Automotive News