• Acquired assets include Saab's 9-5, 9-3 platforms
  • BAIC will get Saab's support to develop own-brand cars
  • Analysts said Saab deal important for BAIC
  • Spyker still in talks to buy Saab - CEO

Beijing Automotive Industry Holding (BAIC) on Monday said it had acquired some assets of General Motors' Saab unit as part of a plan to develop its own-brand cars.

BAIC, China's fifth-largest automaker, will buy the intellectual property for Saab's [old model] 9-5 and 9-3 sedans, and some equipment to make them, for an undisclosed sum, leaving the fate of the Swedish-based automaker uncertain, Reuters reported.

Saab Automobile confirmed the sale in a statement, saying it had closed on deal selling "certain" Saab 9-3 current 9-5 and powertrain technology and tooling" and would "assist BAIC to integrate this technology into future BAIC vehicles".

Managing director Jan Åke Jonsson said:  "This arrangement is excellent for both parties, now and for the future.  We have developed a good relationship with BAIC and look forward to working with them to integrate this Saab technology into their future vehicles."

"This is quite separate from the discussion to sell Saab as a whole, and those negotiations are taking place," a Saab spokeswoman in Sweden told Reuters, declining to name potential bidders.

"What this deal announced today does is that it partly helps the financing of the 'new' Saab...The deal with Beijing in no way compromises the sale of Saab to a new owner."

Luxury car maker Spyker has also expressed an interest in Saab and said on Sunday the BAIC deal would be good news as talks continued with GM.

"BAIC is one of the few major Chinese auto groups that still does not have its own car brand. Even though the Saab platform is old, it's still important for BAIC as it can finally get hold of something it can use later on for its own cars," IHS Global Insight analyst John Zeng told Reuters.

"The deal is an important milestone in BAIC's cooperation with Saab," BAIC said in a statement.

BAIC will get support from Saab as it uses the acquired technologies to manufacture its own-brand models, it added.

Spyker CEO Victor Muller told Reuters on Sunday the Dutch sports-car maker was still in talks to buy Saab, after the Wall Street Journal initially reported BAIC's deal to buy the 9-5 and 9-3 assets.

He said a deal with BAIC would be "good news" for the Dutch company, because it involved assets that he described as equipment for old Saab models.

Saab spokesman Eric Geers told Reuters he was confident that a buyer for the whole of Saab Automobile would be found.

GM has said it would consider offers for its Saab brand until the end of this month and move to close the Swedish unit then if it appears that it cannot be sold.

BAIC, a Daimler and Hyundai Motor JV partner in China, hopes to use acquired technologies to shore up its own-brand models, which it has been working on for years.

The deal will put BAIC on par with domestic rivals, such as SAIC and Dongfeng, which have already rolled out cars developed based on acquired technologies or on their own.

BAIC has made several aborted attempts to get access to foreign auto brands this year, the news agency noted.

General manager Wang Dazong told reporters recently that BAIC might still be interested in Saab even though he saw no need to buy plants or robots.

Sources told Reuters last week BAIC had obtained a CNY20bn (US$2.93bn) line of credit from the Bank of China.