• Jan 26th 2010 at 1:10PM
  • 106
What a long, strange trip it's been. Every thriller must have an endgame, although whether the guy gets the girl in the end or just plain "gets it" is often in doubt right until the final frame. This afternoon, after a most improbable and tortured saga, General Motors has finally agreed to sell Saab to Spyker Cars.

The tiny Dutch supercar manufacturer and its backers have outlasted all comers, including everyone from Koenigsegg to investment consortium Merbanco to a joint bid by Genii Capital and Formula One mastermind Bernie Ecclestone. More significantly, they've endured GM and its negotiators, submitting and re-submitting a series of bids to finally bring together the winning package.

Complete details of the transaction have yet to be fully disclosed, but it's understood to include Spyker giving GM $74 million up front, along with allowing The General to pocket a further $326 million in preferred shares from the new Spyker-owned entity. The deal requires that the Swedish government agree to guarantee a 400 million-euro loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB), a step that is expected to be consummated in February.

As part of the agreement, Spyker chairman Vladimir Antonov has agreed to step down, a move reportedly key to GM's interests in keeping its intellectual property sequestered from Russian hands.

With Saab's operations already partially "wound down" from GM's liquidation moves following the collapse of the earlier Koenigsegg deal, it will be interesting to see how quickly Spyker can get the Swedish marque's operations back up to speed, including delivery of the 2011 9-5 sedan, a promising vehicle range that was likely the linchpin holding the whole deal together.

Interestingly, after this protracted and very public battle, Saab may actually have more visibility and consumer goodwill built up than it has in decades. Whether this will translate to additional sales or fall by the wayside remains to be seen. General Motors could also potentially see a bit of public cordiality from seeing this process through, as it will also have proven that it can successfully spin off one of its properties, something that was in doubt after the caving-in of the Saturn sale to Roger Penske and what looks to be an increasingly tenuous sale of its Hummer brand to China's Sichuan Tengzhong. Click through to the jump for the official press release from General Motors.

[Sources: General Motors, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg]
Show full PR text
GM Reaches Agreement to Sell Saab to Spyker

DETROIT – General Motors and Spyker Cars NV today confirmed that they have reached a binding agreement on the purchase of Saab Automobile AB.

"Today's announcement is great news for Saab employees, dealers and suppliers, great news for millions of Saab customers and fans worldwide, and great news for GM," said John Smith, GM vice president for corporate planning and alliances.

"General Motors, Spyker Cars, and the Swedish government worked very hard and creatively for a deal that would secure a sustainable future for this unique and iconic brand, and we're all happy for the positive outcome," Smith said.

As part of the agreement, Spyker intends to form a new company, Saab Spyker Automobiles, which will carry the Saab brand forward. The sale will be subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of applicable regulatory, governmental and court approvals. Other terms and conditions specific to the sale will be disclosed in due time.

The Swedish government is at present reviewing the transaction and the related request for guarantees of a Saab Automobile loan that has been requested from the European Investment Bank. Assuming quick action, the transaction is expected to close in mid-February, and previously announced wind down activities at Saab will be immediately suspended, pending the close of the transaction.

"Throughout the negotiations, GM has always had the hope to find a solution for Saab that would avoid a wind down of the brand," added Nick Reilly, president, GM Europe. "We've worked with many parties over the past year, including governments and investors, and I'm very pleased that we could come to such a good conclusion, one that preserves jobs in Sweden and elsewhere. GM will continue to support Saab and Spyker on their way forward."


About General Motors: General Motors, one of the world's largest automakers, traces its roots back to 1908. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 204,000 people in every major region of the world and does business in some 140 countries. GM and its strategic partners produce cars and trucks in 34 countries, and sell and service these vehicles through the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling. GM's largest national market is the United States, followed by China, Brazil, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Italy. GM's OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. General Motors acquired operations from General Motors Corporation on July 10, 2009, and references to prior periods in this and other press materials refer to operations of the old General Motors Corporation. More information on the new General Motors can be found at www.gm.com.

Saab background: Saab entered the auto business in 1949 with the first model 92. Its aerodynamic shape and advanced technology drew from the company's roots as an aircraft maker, and helped create what was to become a loyal and passionate customer base. GM acquired a 50 percent stake in Saab in 1990, and acquired the balance of Saab in 2000. As part of its strategy to focus on its four strongest brands in the U.S., GM began seeking a buyer for Saab in January 2009, a concerted effort that led to today's announcement.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Thank You Spyker, your persistence to save Saab is very commendable. Please assess the viability of building the 9-1 BioHybrid and Aero-x as my 1999 Viggen would like to have a stablemate. Again Thank You.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This really made my day. I can't wait to see what the next 9-3 looks like when it comes around.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "Saab doesn't have the engineers to design updated models"

      Saab has over 1000 engineers.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wow. I wasn't aware spyker had that kinda cash, here's hoping they're significantly better stewards than GM (I'm guessing they will be).
      • 5 Years Ago
      SAAB UP!

      • 5 Years Ago
      Congratulations SAAB.
        • 5 Years Ago
        YAHOO! YAY! WOW!
        • 5 Years Ago

        F YOU GM!
        • 5 Years Ago
        All good.

        Now, let's see how they sell...

        Surely, all of these "Save Saab" defenders will buy one as their next car, right?
        • 5 Years Ago
        YAY! w00t!!
        • 5 Years Ago
        • 5 Years Ago
        This news actually made my day.. I may not buy a Saab as of now, but I loved the very unique 80s and older Saabs.. I like seeing them on the roads. They have character.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Congratulations to Saab fans and especially employees. Glad to see the brand survive. Now, when can I buy the next-gen 9-5?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Congratulations to all those who dreamed of this day. I trust you are all planning to buy one, if not two or three, new Saabs in the very near future, because that's what it's going to take for this to succeed -- that, and a whole heck of a lot of luck.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Great news to Saab!! Congrats!!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Absolutely. I'm delighted to see them survive...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Dear SAAB/Spyker,

      Congratulations. Now, moving forward:

      Step 1: Turbine-charged engine (http://raceenginedesign.biz/Manic-Beattie.htm), so the whole "Born from jets" motto isn't just lip service.
      Step 2: Aero X body, straight from concept (i.e. NO PUSSING OUT ON THE DOORS)
      Step 3: This engine (http://www.popularmechanics.com/automotive/new_cars/1266656.html) for the rest of the product range - which you were working on 10 years ago.
      Step 4: ???
      Step 5: Profit

      Your friends at Autoblog

      • 5 Years Ago
      I absolutely love seeing you come up with excuses. If this is your first time reading a post by TriShield, please click his name to see his other comments. 3/4 of his posts are about how Saab would be liquidated by GM. No sale.

      It's great to finally see that you would be tossed out on your ass as an automotive analyst, and that most of your predicitive ability has already been debunked. Congratulations on betting wrong so consistently, I'm impressed.
      • 5 Years Ago
      jux, Saab and Porsche are not even remotely similar nor are their situations. Porsche makes a premium and desirable product, gets the premium and sells large number of vehicles globally. Saab is none of the above, at all, period.

      Plus Saab doesn't have a decade plus to turn things around. Spyker isn't made out of money and there aren't that many fools in the world who will throw theirs into the Saab furnace.

      Saab's fanbase obviously isn't big (or has money to buy new vehicles often or both), nowhere near as such as the cheerleading online would indicate, otherwise the brand would be making money and the company would have never been in this mess in the first place.

      keep the change is exactly right, this is a bailout. The company does not have enough customers to support it as-is. The chances that Saab will become viable are nil. The chances that Saab will continue struggling on until it dies under Spyker (or they jettison it) are vastly better.

      Volvo is another Swedish turkey, but it's brand, customer base and image are vastly better than Saab's. Yet it bled Ford out of a huge amount of money. Ford just offloaded it to the Chinese so it can bleed them out now. Volvo is another company that isn't viable. Like Saab if it runs out of suitors it will disappear.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @John H.

        Ummm.. No. I never proposed that. Does Lotus compete with Cadillac or Mercedes? No?
        • 5 Years Ago

        Your skepticism is not without grounds. However:

        Your assumption that Saab was losing a ton of money under GM is just that - an assumption. I am not even going to go into explaining why you get no return for zero investment - but it has become a known fact that Saab sales outside of Europe were put on GM's books. Effectively, Saab was amortizing their production costs over the European sales only.

        Saab managed to sell 130,000+ vehicles as an independent automaker back in the '80s - with basically two models. When GM actually put some money in advertising and promotion back in 2006/7, Saab managed to do quite well and sell near that - with basically just one competitive model (the 9-3).

        There is a reason why the sale of Saab attracted so much interest from companies as wide-ranging as Koenigsegg, Spyker, Bernie the F1 boss, BAIC, Geely, Rennert's Renco and the Merbanco/AGCO people. The reason is simple: there is potential. And those who claim Saab has "no engineering" and "GM did all their engineering" are - let's put this mildly - uninformed. Numerous candidates cited Saab's engineering hub as one of the major assets of the company. These people developed most of GME's engine management tech, safety, they developed DI for GM (even though - in true GM fashion - Saab never got to use their own DI as went to the Cobalt SS instead). Shelved innovations such the variable combustion engine I won't even mention.

        Finally, a lesson in history might serve you well - both BMW and Audi were on the verge of bankruptcy at some point of their respective existences. With the former, a bullish and ballsy owner brought them back "from the dead" and instead of selling to Mercedes-Benz invested and managed the brand into world prominence and domination. In the case of the latter, they had proper support and investment by their corporate parent VAG, which effectively allows them to sell pimped-out Skodas/Seats without anyone from the self-proclaimed "enthusiast circle" ever being bothered.

        When I was a car-obsessed kid growing up in Europe, my father used to always exclaim in amazement how far BMW has come - from a car at par with Simca to a M-B alternative. Took them less than 20 years - or one Saab product development cycle in GM development terms. :)
        • 5 Years Ago
        Again I don't totally disagree with some of what you say but as always your analysis are shortsighted, overly dramatic and poorly informed. Volvo actually was Ford's only profitable Luxury division for several years, its has only been recently that they were loosing money. Plus all of Ford's cars use platforms developed by Volvo as well as safety tech that has propelled them to the top of the crash test lists. Plus amazing cars like the focus RS use complete Volvo powertrains and AWD systems yanked straight from Volvo. The company is without a doubt seeing troubled times but they are no where near dead or dying yet.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Fritz: low volume is where Koenigsegg wanted to be. Is Saab a Mercedes-beater? Even a Cadillac-beater? No?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Breaking news on Wednesday, 1/27/2010.

      Spyker says not yet.

      UAW says no to deal unless they profit.

      Whitacre says I quit.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Let's hope Spyker can keep Saab alive for long enough until some other large manufacturer has the money and ambition to enlarge. Personally I think BMW would be a good match, Saab could be the volume brand in their portfolio (like what VW is to VAG). With a modern styling, smaller models. a clear identity, and a reasonable price-tag it could easily appeal to a younger audience. Saab still has a good brand image, and with good products it could become successful again.
        • 5 Years Ago
        BMW needs a much higher volume to survive. I don't deny BMW has better products though, that's why they're a good candidate to improve Saab, BMW smaller engines would be perfect for instance. And with Saabs being FWD or AWD they're not going to compete directly with BMW models.
        • 5 Years Ago
        BMW sells a better-made, better-performing car than any Saab ever made. Saab has absolutely nothing that BMW needs or wants. And besides, BMW already has all of their customers.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Olivier: BMW would have to design all-new, incompatible platforms for Saab. For example, current BMW chassis is forward axle, for a front-mid layout. Saab wants to set the engine in front of the axle. That just won't mesh.

        Secondly, BMW's newest turbomotors produce excellent power for their displacement, so there isn't any significant Saab turbo technology to gain.

        Third, BMW already has Mini for the bottom end, based on previous-generation 3-series chassis.

        As a premium maker from the Mini up, how would Saab fit into their lineup? And how would a small amount of sales requiring very high development costs improve BWM's bottom line? As I see it, the costs outweigh any possible benefit to BMW.

        The only company which could use Saab us Mitsubishi. No premium brand, in desperate need additional sales, and still stuck with FF chassis. Too bad Mitsu is going down the drain in the US.
      • 5 Years Ago
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