"Smack." That's the sound of Spyker's process server dropping a big ol' pile of legal documents on the doorstep of The Renaissance Center, home of General Motors – or wherever GM's attorneys live during business hours. Contained therein is a Complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan and demanding a jury trial, that seeks $3 billion in damages due to "the unlawful actions GM took to avoid competition with Saab Automobile in the Chinese market." Spyker accuses GM of "tortiously interfering" with Saab's business relationship with Chinese automaker Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile (Youngman), actions that Spyker CEO Victor Muller (above) said "deliberately drove Saab Automobile into bankruptcy."

(From Wikipedia: "Tortious interference, also known as intentional interference with contractual relations, in the common law of torts, occurs when a person intentionally damages the plaintiff's contractual or other business relationships.")

The interference in question specifically refers to the very last potential deal, called the Framework Agreement, that Spyker worked out with Youngman. With lots of GM engineering embedded into the 9-4X and 9-5, The General had the right to approve any Saab partnership that would involve the transfer of GM intellectual property. Spyker had been rebuffed over every previous deal with a Chinese firm, including two bids by Youngman, due to GM concerns over its IP getting into Chinese hands and having to face Chinese-market competitors using its technology. The Complaint alleges that the Framework Agreement would have put a firewall around all GM IP – Youngman would only work on Saab's Phoenix platform, said to be just about free of GM tech, and would have no access to 9-3, 9-4X or 9-5 technology until after Saab ceased all ties to GM.

Thoretically, as stated in the Complant, this should have spared Saab the need to even ask GM for permission to make the deal outlined in the Framework Agreement since it didn't involve any transfer of GM technology. GM felt differently and repeatedly, publicly proclaimed that the Framework Agreement couldn't proceed without GM's say-so, which GM would not give, and that led to Youngman walking away. It is those public proclamations by GM that Spyker alleges as tortious interference. That's the basics, but there's a lot more to be discovered in the 27-page Complaint, which can be found here.

Muller said they've been working on preparing the lawsuit since bankruptcy was declared last year, and with a view to a lengthy and heinously expensive court battle, Muller's golden touch with securing money has come through yet again: a third party has furnished Spyker with the "backing required to see the lawsuit through to the end." There's a press release below announcing the move, otherwise known as "the first shot."
Show full PR text
SPYKER FILES A THREE BILLION DOLLAR LAWSUIT AGAINST GENERAL MOTORS

Zeewolde, the Netherlands, 6 August 2012 -- Spyker N.V. ("Spyker") announced that it has filed a complaint against General Motors Company ("GM") in the United States District Court of the Eastern District of Michigan today at 08.00 AM EST. Spyker filed the complaint in its own right and on behalf of its 100 percent subsidiary Saab Automobile A.B., which was declared bankrupt on December 19, 2011.

This lawsuit seeks redress for the unlawful actions GM took to avoid competition with Saab Automobile in the Chinese market. GM's actions had the direct and intended objective of driving Saab Automobile into bankruptcy, a result of GM's tortiously interfering with a transaction between Saab Automobile, Spyker and Chinese investor Youngman that would have permitted Saab Automobile to restructure and remain a solvent, going concern. The monetary value of the claim amounts to US$ 3 billion (three billion US dollars).

Since Saab Automobile is in receivership and hence incapable to contribute to the costs of litigation, Spyker and Saab Automobile have entered into an agreement pursuant to which Spyker will bear the costs of such litigation in exchange for a very substantial share of Saab Automobile's award when the proceedings are successful. Spyker has secured the financial backing required to see the lawsuit through to the end from a third party investor.

Victor R. Muller, Spyker's Chief Executive Officer said: "Ever since we were forced to file for Saab Automobile's bankruptcy in December of last year, we have worked relentlessly on the preparation for this lawsuit which seeks to compensate Spyker and Saab for the massive damages we have incurred as a result of GM's unlawful actions.

We owe it to our stakeholders and ourselves that justice is done and we will pursue this lawsuit with the same tenacity and perseverance that we had when we tirelessly worked to save Saab Automobile, until GM destroyed those efforts and deliberately drove Saab Automobile into bankruptcy."

The Complaint, as filed this morning at 08.00 EST, is attached to this Press Release.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 64 Comments
      Nathan
      • 2 Years Ago
      Tangled web is tangled.
      Val
      • 2 Years Ago
      Youngman would only work on Saab's Phoenix platform, said to be just about free of GM tech, and would have no access to 9-3, 9-4X or 9-5 technology until after Saab ceased all ties to GM. This sentence suggests that after SAAB ceases all ties to GM, youngman will somehow gain access to the technology of 9-3, 9-3, 9-4X... Which makes no sense at all, if those vehicles have GM technology. 9-5 is basically an opel insignia underneath. 9-4X is a cadillac SRX, and it is even made in mexico. Muller could have easily made another subsidiary of spyker, named it Phoenix Cars for example, and transfered all the Phoenix platform tech that is not GM to that entity. Then sell Phoenix Cars to the chinese. GM would have no grounds for complaint whatsoever. But the only reason that saab would cost anything is the GM tech, which after more than 10 years is everywhere in SAAB.
      Michael Scherping
      • 2 Years Ago
      Too Bad Tata Motors (The same firm that bought Landrover-Jaguar from Ford Motor Company) couldn't buy SAAB. They're on the brink of an IPO due to the shear success of the aquisition and would have certainly been able to market SAAB as a mainstream brand just under Jaguar-Landrover. That or Geely-Volvo. Two Swedish car companies under one roof would have been a no-brainer. One could move upmarket (as Volvo intended all along) while SAAB could have morphed into a mainstream product and benefited from the economies of scale with partner Geely - one of few respectful brands in China. And lastly, it was dumb for PSA Peugeot-Citroen not to jump on this potential deal with GM. PSA is far too dependant on the European economy - now tanking - and it could have benefitted from SAAB's North American dealer network and absorbed some of those losses by selling products in a recovering market. I doubt GM would ever allow more competition in the USofA. Heck, Mazda, SAAB, and PSA could have all banded together to form a global empire to rival GM all together by covering all markets. Suzuki and Mitsubishi could have eventually folded into the mix too.
      sanmusa
      • 2 Years Ago
      From SAABs United: After having read through the complaint handed in by Spyker this morning and talking to a number of sources a clear picture has risen about the key aspects of this lawsuit. There was a contract between Saab and GM Global Technology Operations, Inc. (“GTO”) called the ATLA (Automotive Technology License Agreement) in which the rights to various GM automobile platforms and other GM intellectual property used in the manufacture of certain Saab vehicles. Under the terms of the ATLA, GTO granted to Saab a non-exclusive, non- transferable, worldwide, royalty-free license to GM intellectual property necessary for the manufacture, assembly and service of Saab 9-5 and 9-3 models identified in exhibits to the ATLA (the “Licensed Vehicles”). The purpose of the license was to permit Saab to make and assemble the Licensed Vehicles containing GM technology. In the ATLA, Saab needed the written approval if it wanted to use any of the GM controlled technology in any other way than what was initially stated during the purchase of Saab, ie to produce cars in Trollhättan, Sweden. As we know, Saab entered into financial difficulties during the spring of 2011 and sought different solutions with different Chinese partners. GM was aware and informed regarding Saab’s attempts to find new funding and did not state that they were in opposition to any such deals made by Saab and its Chinese partners. However all of the deals prior to December 16th included some kind of approval by GM since it involved ownership in Saab and in such access to GM technology by other parties than Spyker, which was controlled under the ATLA contract. GM did not accept any breach of the ATLA contract and did not offer any approval for new owners into Saab Automobile or Spyker. Under the Saab Vehicle Supply Agreement, which was signed when Spyker purchased Saab from GM. GM had agreed to supply components and manufacture the Saab 9-4X for Saab through December 2014. And neither GM nor Saab could cancel this agreement for convenience. Even so GM, through Mr. Cain, threatened that GM would not continue to provide Saab with GM components or manufacture the Saab 9-4X if Saab entered the Framework Agreement. The Framework Agreement is an agreement made between Youngman and Spyker (SWAN at the time) on December 16th, in which Youngman would loan €200 million in order for Saab to restart production of all its models and that loan would only be converted into an equity interest in Saab after Saab ceased using GM technology in its vehicles. Since GM decided to publicly announce the halt of any cooperation on one of Saab’s key products, the 9-4X if the Framework agreement was put in practice, Youngman feared that Saab could not live up to its business-plan in such rightly so, backed out of the Framework deal and Saab in such entered into bankruptcy on the 19th of December. http://www.saabsunited.com/2012/08/so-what-is-the-lawsuit-all-about.html
      banan
      • 2 Years Ago
      its time to pay up, GM!
      CarCrazy24
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm glad GM is getting held accountable, they shouldn't have purged Saab of its core values and then sunk it to a level that it needed to be sold off to Spyker in the first place. This is what they get for ruining one of most unique European brands ever created.
        imoore
        • 2 Years Ago
        @CarCrazy24
        I disagree. Remember the Saab 9000 from the 1980's and 1990's? That was done at a time when Saab hitched its wagon to Fiat-and Fiat was crap too. Saab was damaged goods when GM bought it. Besides, I had no problem with GM refusing Saab's sale to the Chinese. Part of Spyker's deal with GM was not to transfer GM's engineering technology it licensed to Spyker should Saab ever came up for sale, and Spyker was willing to break that deal. Spyker really has no ground to stand on in this matter. Chalk up Muller as yet another executive without a clue.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @CarCrazy24
        [blocked]
      jbm0866
      • 2 Years Ago
      Also, I find it interesting that people are quick to throw hate at GM for allowing Saab to go under, yet none at Victor Muller for trying to make a few quick bucks by letting a Swedish brand go to China..
        imoore
        • 2 Years Ago
        @jbm0866
        Agreed. Note my response to CarCrazy's comments.
      Dark Gnat
      • 2 Years Ago
      Where's my violin? "[GM] deliberately drove SAAB into bankruptcy" SAAB was ALREADY in bankruptcy before GM bought them. Had GM not bought them, SAAB would have gone under in the mid-nineties. The end was inevitable for SAAB.
      sp33dklz
      • 2 Years Ago
      Good job Spyker and Saab!!! GM has obviously been very unfair to Saab since the day they purchased it. It's about time for a little bit of well deserved retribution.
        Tone
        • 2 Years Ago
        @sp33dklz
        Gonna need my rubber boots and waders...the ignorance around here is thick and deep. Yes, they've been obviously unfair to Saab...obviously. Nevermind the fact that they essentially took Saab off of life support when they took control... -_-
        Walt
        • 2 Years Ago
        @sp33dklz
        If you own something, you can treat it however you want to treat it.
      zchmcqn
      • 2 Years Ago
      But of course GM being Government Motors, they'd easily be bailed out by its uncle Sam
      jbm0866
      • 2 Years Ago
      What the GM haters are either missing or ignoring is the fact that GM wasn't opposed to Saab being sold....just Saab being sold to a Chinese company. I don't know the history of Youngman or the other Chinese companies interested in Saab, but companies in that country have a long history of outright theft of intellectual property from companies based in other countries....and even among themselves.
      Car Guy
      • 2 Years Ago
      I see Muller has picked up the Malcolm Bricklin playbook for failing car ventures - sue the person with the most money and blame your lack of capital investors on them. The result will be the same with nobody getting anything except the lawyers involved.
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