Penske Ends Talks to Buy Saturn From G.M.
DETROIT — General Motors said Wednesday that it now planned to close its
Saturn brand after Penske Automotive abruptly called off an agreement to
acquire the division.
Penske said Wednesday in a statement that it could not proceed with the
purchase because another manufacturer, which it did not identify,
rejected plans to build vehicles that would be distributed under the
Saturn brand name.
The deal between Penske and G.M. had called for G.M. to continue
building Saturn vehicles only until 2011. Penske had initially hoped to
close on a deal to buy Saturn as soon as this week.
“Today’s disappointing news comes at a time when we’d hoped for a
successful launch of the Saturn brand into a new chapter,” G.M.’s chief
executive, Fritz Henderson, said in a statement. “We will be working
closely with our dealers to ensure Saturn customers are cared for as we
transition them to other G.M. dealers in the months ahead. I’d also like
to thank every G.M. employee and Saturn retailer who worked so hard to
try to make this new beginning happen for Saturn.”
Saturn is one of four brands that G.M. plans to eliminate in the United
States. It is shutting down Pontiac by the end of this year, recently
sold Saab to a company in Sweden and has a deal to sell Hummer to a
In a statement, Penske said that it had negotiated an agreement with
another manufacturer to make vehicles; however, that agreement was
rejected by that manufacturer’s board.
“Without that agreement,” Penske said in the statement, “the company has
determined that the risks and uncertainties related to the availability
of future products prohibit the company from moving forward with this
transaction.”When announced in June, the deal was heralded as a way to
rescue Saturn and its dealers from the uncertain future they have faced
since February, when G.M. announced plans to shut Saturn by 2012 if no
buyer could be found. G.M. subsequently said it would discontinue Saturn
by the end of this year.
G.M. said then that the move would preserve 13,000 jobs at Saturn and
its dealerships. The company has 350 showrooms, virtually all built to
sell only Saturn vehicles.