General Motors confirms Saab talks ongoing with Spyker; chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre to remain CEO for now.

Deal would reprieve famous Swedish auto brand

Deal would reprieve famous Swedish auto brand

General Motors confirmed on Monday afternoon it was continuing to discuss the sale of its Saab unit with Dutch luxury sportscar maker Spyker but declined to elaborate. The announcement by GM chairman and CEO Ed Whiteacre came soon after the bidder said negotiations "must end soon".

Spyker commented earlier on Monday as speculation continued to swirl concerning its possible buyout of the troubled Swedish company.

Spyker has been widely tipped to be in the front running for a potential purchase in recent days.

 A Spyker statement said the manufacturer had noted recent press speculation about the
Saab negotiations.

“Spyker confirms that talks are ongoing, the outcome of which is still uncertain. As Saab is currently in liquidation, talks must end soon,” it said.

Shares in Spyker have soared at least 30% today.

GM had been in discussions with Spyker and private investment firm Genii Capital backed by Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone, but it now appears it has opted for the Dutch suitor.

“As we see it, it is very, very likely the outcome of these discussions will be during the day [25 January] – Spyker is very close to finalising this deal,” Genii/Ecclestone coordinator Lars Carlstrom told just-auto from Sweden this morning.

“For Genii we would be more than happy to do the deal [but] Spyker would be a fine alternative. I would say it is 95% certain Saab will sign with Spyker. If anything goes wrong, we will definitely be very aggressive and will be able to enter into serious discussions with Saab.

Carlstrom suggested the “four to five weeks” head start in negotiations that Spyker had enjoyed with Saab was one reason the Dutch firm was the preferred bidder.

The labyrinthine complexity of the process with almost 100 agreements with Saab has also been time consuming.

“It is heavily integrated into GM and it is this carve out process just to create the new Saab,” added Carlstrom.

“It is very complicated for a new bidder such as Genii to understand that. Spyker was around four to five weeks before us and that has cost us this loss in negotiations. Genii has the resources but it was the time that killed the deal for Genii.”

The Genii spokesman added that although no cooperation with Spyker was planned “you should never say never.” He also revealed the Genii/Ecclestone consortium would have focused on engineering and consulting for other OEMs - “Saab has a very high know-how in terms of
technology.”

Carlstrom noted Saab had secured a EUR400m loan from the European Investment Bank payable for seven years at normal interest rate.