General Motors has apparently extended its December 31 deadline to sell its Saab brand while continuing the 'orderly wind-down' process. A Saab spokesman also told just-auto today (30 December) that the firm plans to resume the production of cars from January 11.

GM said on 18 December that it would begin the wind-down of the brand after a proposed sale to Netherlands-based exotic sports car maker Spyker had hit due diligence problems. Spyker had emerged as a leading bidder for Saab following the withdrawal of Koenigsegg as preferred bidder in November.

However, following GM's Saab wind-down announcement, Spyker submitted a revised bid amid some uncertainty over the status of GM's original 31 December sale deadline. Reports suggest that the end-year Saab sale deadline has now been dropped.

Spyker Cars CEO Victor Muller told Reuters today that GM had extended the deadline for a final offer from Spyker Cars until 7 January. Muller added he believed there are multiple bidders for Saab.

Saab spokesman Eric Greer told just-auto today that GM had decided to initiate the wind-down process while at the same time evaluating bids.

"When GM will communicate the outcome of the evaluation we don't know," he said.

He also confirmed that Saab will start meeting customer orders and will start producing cars from 11 January.

Publicly, GM executives have declined to identify their problems with Spyker, but several officials familiar with the private negotiations have said GM was troubled by Spyker's reliance on Russian loans to finance the deal, as well as the fate of Saab's proprietary technology under Spyker. The biggest investor in Spyker is the Russian bank Convers Group.

Another snag has been the question of whether Spyker could win a loan from the European Investment Bank.

Earlier this month, Saab also announced that it had closed on the sale of some 9-3, current 9-5 and powertrain technology and tooling to Beijing Automotive Industry Holdings (BAIC), a move that raised much-needed cash for the beleaguered brand.

The news that the Trollhattan plant is planning a production resumption and that negotiations with Spyker (and possibly other bidders) are not yet dead will keep hopes alive in Sweden that a deal can be concluded early in the new year to keep Saab going - in some form - under a new owner.

Dave Leggett

See also: ANALYSIS: Death of the cool?

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