It's been a long time since we last heard of the legal battles between Spyker CEO Victor Muller and General Motors, the automaker from which Muller's company purchased the embattled Saab brand back in 2010. To refresh your memories, after struggling through 2011 and entering into bankruptcy, Spyker attempted to save the Saab brand by selling it to a Chinese consortium.
It feels utterly bizarre that we're still talking about Saab, but Reuters is reporting that the bankrupt Swedish manufacturer's American arm has gotten approval from the US Bankruptcy Court to liquidate its assets and pay back creditors. As part of the plan, secured creditors like Ally Financial will receive full repayment. Unsecured creditors, consisting of those affected by abandoned leases and contracts will get anywhere from 25 to 82 percent of their money back.
When a brand goes belly-up, it's natural for analysts to wonder where that brand's consumers will turn. General Motors has mothballed more car brands the last decade than most other automakers' have in their entire portfolios, so "Where did [insert brand here] buyers go?" has been a common question asked of The General. According to reports, it didn't do so well at retaining Oldsmobile owners (who supposedly went to Hyundai), or Hummer and Saturn buyers, but did get some return love from Pontiac
General Motors has asked for more time to reply to the lawsuit brought by Spyker over the Saab affair, and Spyker has agreed to extend the deadline one month until September 28. A quick refresh: Spyker has accused GM of tortious interference in Saab's dealings with the Chinese investors that might have been able to save the company, and intentionally and unlawfully driving Saab into bankruptcy.
"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
You'll note that we have yet to remove Saab from the dropdown menu at the top of the Autoblog home page. Indeed, for a bankrupt company that hasn't built a new car from scratch yet this year, Saab generates a surprising amount of news, however, little of it has been the good kind. Perhaps that will all change today, as this latest report indicates that the company has actually been sold for real this time.
To say that the future of Saab as an automaker remains murky is being charitable at best, but that doesn't mean there isn't a loyal body of customers with real needs. In the wake of the Swedish marque's bankruptcy, U.S. and Canadian Saab drivers were left without a clear supplier of parts and services, but now Saab Automobile Parts AB has stepped in to service North America's estimated 500,000 owners.
Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile has been jettisoned from the dwindling pool of bidders for Saab after tendering an offer of $492 million for the whole kaboodle. Exact reasons weren't given for Youngman leaving the table, but according to a report in Autoweek.nl, "Chinese bureaucracy" was partially to blame and there apparently wasn't complete confidence in the Chinese company's finances.
Youngman has made another bid for bankrupt Saab, according to new reports. The Chinese automaker has offered to buy what's left of Saab for $470 million at current conversion rates. The news comes courtesy of Dagens Industri. The newspaper also indicates that's the absolute lowest the Swedish automaker's pledgees and real estate owners will accept to settle the company's impressive debt. The deal would also set aside an additional $1.47 billion to restart production at the mothballed Trollhattan
The Detroit News reports the sum total of the remaining Saab assets is worth less than a third of the defunct automaker's debts. All told, the company owes a hefty $1.9 billion at current conversion rates, though its total property value rings in at a comparatively paltry $532 million. The debt includes $89 million owed to former employees, $107 million to General Motors and $388 million to Sweden itself. With so many hands to feed and so few dollars to go around, Saab says only those who hold s
The future of Saab could be electric! If it has a future, that is. The Swedish firm famously filed for bankruptcy last December and since then, the saga to save the company has turned into a struggle to revive it. One of the biggest obstacles, it seems, is General Motor's unwillingness to allow the technology it licensed to Trollhatten to be transferred to new owners. At least, new owners from China. Yes, it's a real sob (sorry about that) story.
Part of the sideshow in the Saab revival circus has been the waning and waxing fate of the Saab Museum Trollhättan, Sweden. The U.S. Heritage Collection was sold to two U.S. collectors earlier this year, while the Swedish museum's collection was rescued from breakup by three Swedish interests: the city of Trollhättan, SAAB AB and The Wallenberg Foundation.
Nearly three months on the Saab story is the same: company makes a bid, General Motors knocks it back. But this time, the latest round of corporate "He said/She said" puts Turkey's Brightwell Holdings on the other side of the table instead of a Chinese company. Brightwell was the other publicly identified bidder for Saab that pledged to make a bid, along with Chinese concern Youngman.
Volvo is reportedly interesting in getting out its checkbook in search of a production parts bargain over at Saab. No, the 9-5 likely won't be wearing a Volvo badge any time soon, but the tooling that helped build parts for the big sedan could one day be in a Volvo factory.
Saab North America acknowledged that the chances were exceptionally slim, but it hoped to avoid bankruptcy long enough to give another company a chance to buy it. Shortly after Saab NA appointed a third-party administrator, McTevia & Associates, it was decided there was no way to save the company short of liquidation, and on January 23, the administrator announced plans to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Way back at the beginning of Saab's struggle for life after General Motors, exotic car firm Spyker was granted a €400-million loan ($527M U.S.) from the European Investment Bank. The loan was approved after it was guaranteed by Sweden's Debt Office, and Saab's recent bankruptcy filing forced the Debt Office to back up the guarantee with a €217-million payment ($286M) to the EIB – the portion of the loan that Saab actually drew upon.