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Saab sold to Spyker

Tue, 26 Jan 2010

General Motors' Saab division won't end up on the postbankruptcy scrap heap with Pontiac and Saturn.

Just as Saab's death appeared imminent, the Swedish automaker was scooped up on Tuesday by Dutch supercar-maker Spyker Cars in a $74 million deal that has been in works for months.

The deal is expected to close on Feb. 15, according to a press release from Spyker issued on Tuesday. The first installment of $50 million will be paid on that date, with the remaining $24 million to be paid on July 15. The deal is contingent on the execution of a € 400 million ($564 million) loan agreement between Saab and the European Investment Bank, a loan that the Swedish government on Tuesday agreed to guarantee.

According to the agreement, Saab's future as an independent car company will be secured. All Saab assets will be transferred to the new company, which will be a Dutch public company renamed Saab Spyker Automobiles NV.

“We are very much looking forward to being part of the next chapter in Saab's illustrious history,” said Victor R. Muller, Spyker CEO. “Saab is an iconic brand that we are honored to shepherd. We are delighted to have secured the jobs and livelihoods of thousands of loyal Saab employees, suppliers and dealers and to have given reassurance to the 1.5 million Saab drivers and enthusiasts around the world. It was breathtaking to see so much support from the global Saab community over the last months, which not only shows the strength of the brand but also helped us in our relentless determination to get the deal done.”

Muller said as recently as two weeks ago that he expected to finalize the acquisition of Saab in “days, not weeks.” GM, meanwhile, was proceeding with the orderly two month wind-down of the company. GM purchased Saab two decades ago and had lost money on the company for years.

GM originally agreed to sell Saab to Swedish supercar-maker Koenigsegg, but that deal fell through in November.

Spyker's purchase of Saab means the company will need to hire more workers to increase production capacity so the new company can build Saabs and a higher volume of Spyker vehicles. Muller has said Spyker plans this year to make about 100 of its supercars that will sell for $200,000 to $250,000 each.

Spyker Aileron

If Saab follows the product-rollout script written prior to the company going on the block, an all-new 9-5 sedan beginning production in Trollhattan, Sweden, will debut this spring. The new 9-5 is based on a long-wheelbase version of the Insignia from GM's European Opel subsidiary. It's not clear how the purchase will affect future Saab product, such as a replacement for the 9-3.

The sale means Saab owners are guaranteed a supply of parts, as well as future models, to replace the cars in their garages. Saab enthusiasts, some of whom came to GM headquarters in Detroit in early January to protest Saab's demise, can rest easy knowing their favorite brand is back from the brink.

What is also clear is that Muller's purchase left a bid stalled on the grid by Formula One commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone. Ecclestone and Luxembourg-based Genii Capital pitched the idea of buying Saab in early January.

By Bob Gritzinger