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US: GM puts ball in Saab court as creditors meeting looms

By Simon Warburton | 16 November 2011

General Motors is declining to speculate on any timetable for the Saab situation to be resolved but says it has had "very regular" communications with the stricken automaker.

The US automaker had said it would not allow licensing agreements should a combination of Chinese companies Youngman and Pang Da acquire 100% of Saab, leading to the potential purchasers and the Swedish operation to go back to the drawing board.

"Saab, Youngman and Pang Da have their own set of negotiations regarding this sale and we are not party to that," a GM spokesman in the US told just-auto. "We have had communications with Saab very regularly since they announced the proposed sale.

"There is no real timetable for us - we have made a definitive statement so it is up to Saab and their proposed acquirers how they want to proceed. We will deal with that when the time comes - we can only react to something that is concrete."

Saab's memorandum of understanding with Youngman and Pang Da, in which the Chinese companies tentatively agreed a 60:40 purchase of the manufacturer, expired yesterday (15 November), although the automaker said this could be extended.

GM also gave some background concerning its involvement with Saab since it relinquished control of the Swedish operation.

"This has been a very lengthy and drawn-out process," said the GM spokesman. "There have been a lot of different ideas floated to try and solve Saab's financial crisis.

"I can't speculate about different scenarios. They [Saab] presented a transaction at the 11th hour when the administrator was prepared to liquidate the company and we spent the next couple of days [asking] a lot of questions and getting precious few answers but, as we got more answers, it became very clear to us we could not continue to licence our technology, although we were willing to continue our supplier relationship."

Saab is due to hold a creditors meeting on 22 November at which it could outline potential payment plans to those owed considerable amounts of money, especially its suppliers who are collectively facing a shortfall of around EUR150m (US$203m).