G.M. Plans to Close Saab After Talks Collapse
Unable to find a buyer for Saab after a year-long search, General Motors
said Friday that it would begin shutting down operations at the Swedish
G.M. had been in final sales negotiations with a Dutch maker of high-end
sports cars, Spyker Cars, but issues arose during the due diligence
process that made the sale impossible before G.M.’s Jan. 1 deadline, the
company said in a statement.
“Despite the best efforts of all involved, it has become very clear that
the due diligence required to complete this complex transaction could
not be executed in a reasonable time,” the president of G.M. Europe,
Nick Reilly, said.
“We regret that we were not able to complete this transaction with
Spyker Cars,” Mr. Reilly said. “We will work closely with the Saab
organization to wind down the business in an orderly and responsible
Saab will continue to honor warranties, while providing service and
spare parts to current Saab owners around the world, G.M. said. Mr.
Reilly said that the move was not a bankruptcy or forced liquidation, so
he expected Saab to pay its debts, including those of suppliers.
But with a narrow, though loyal, customer base focused on Sweden,
Britain and the American Northeast, Saab has proved too small to lure
the world’s big automakers, many of which are seeking tie-ups to
increase economies of scale.
Earlier this month, the Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Company
struck a deal for the right to produce versions of the older 9-5 and 9-3
models in China.
In late November, the Swedish sports carmaker, Koenigsegg, backed out of
the deal to buy the unit. It was the third time in less than two months
that a sale of a G.M. brand has been called off, reflecting the
difficulty of selling underperforming divisions in the midst of a global
In early November, G.M. also backed out of a deal to sell its European
operations, Opel, to a Canadian parts supplier and Russian bank. And in
September, G.M. announced that the Saturn brand and dealerships would
close after Penske Automotive terminated its deal to buy the carmaker.
G.M. still has a tentative deal to sell Hummer to a Chinese industrial
Saab, which filed for bankruptcy protection in Sweden in February, has
been a perennial money-loser and is among G.M.’s smallest brands, with
sales of 93,000 vehicles worldwide last year.
It is on pace to sell fewer than 10,000 vehicles in the United States
G.M. paid $600 million for half of Saab in 1990 and $125 million for the
rest in 2000. Terms of the deal with Koenigsegg have not been revealed,
but it was contingent on $600 million of financing from the European
Investment Bank and Swedish government guarantees.
Saab, which originally made fighter planes, began to make cars after
World War II in an effort to branch out.