US: Court dismisses Spyker Saab claim against GM
Spyker's US$3bn (GBP1.9bn) lawsuit accusing General Motors of trying to bankrupt Saab has been dismissed by a US federal court judge who said GM had the right to block the sale of a company using its technology.
Spyker sued GM in August 2012, seeking damages and accusing the automaker of trying to stop a deal with Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile and eliminate a potential rival in the growing Chinese market, Reuters noted.
"General Motors had a contractual right to approve or disapprove the proposed transaction," US District Court Judge Gershwin Drain said in a hearing in Detroit. "The court is going to grant the motion to dismiss the matter."
Drain said the deal Spyker had reached when it purchased Saab, giving GM the right to stop change of ownership, "is clear, unambiguous and absolute." He added that GM's statements voicing its opposition to Saab's deal with Youngman were not made with malice or to intentionally harm Saab.
"We are pleased with the court's decision to dismiss the case, which we believe was the appropriate result," GM spokesman Dave Roman told Reuters.
Spyker chief executive Victor Muller, who attended the hearing, declined to say whether he would appeal the decision. "We will be awaiting the written order and then we will assess," he told Reuters.
Youngman pulled out of a potential deal to buy Saab in late 2011 and the company then filed for bankruptcy.
GM's lawyer, Kathryn Kirmayer, told Reuters Spyker bought Saab knowing GM had the right to veto any change of ownership. "GM would have said absolutely no way" to a rival like Ford buying Saab, she said.
Kirmayer also called Spyker's deal with Youngman, under which that company proposed to eventually take a 70% stake in Saab, "sketchy in many respects."
Spyker lawyer Ben Chew, in asking the judge to reject GM's request to dismiss the case, said Spyker and Youngman had reached the framework of a deal that would have allowed the assembly of Saab vehicles without the use of GM's technology and vehicle platforms. The Chinese company also had agreed to loan Saab EUR200m ($263.89m).
"That's not some vague expectancy," he said. "That's money that would have kept the company rolling."
Chew also said GM's repeated rejections of a deal ultimately scared off Youngman. "They were a sniper shot to Saab's heart," Reuters quoted him as saying.