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]
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.