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Swedish group eyes Saab sale: report

Published: 08 Jan 2010 09:45 GMT+01:00
Updated: 08 Jan 2010 09:45 GMT+01:00

A group led by a Swedish truck industry veteran and a former government minister has expressed an interest in buying Saab Automobile from US owner General Motors.

The new group is fronted by Håkan Samuelsson, a 58-year-old Swede who quit as chief executive officer of German engineering and truck manufacturer MAN in November, and Jan Nygren, a former Social Democratic cabinet minister and ex-deputy chief executive of defence materiel group Saab, financial daily Dagens Industri said.

The newspaper said it was not known who was financing the Swedes' bid.

However, it said the group's business plan aimed for a scaled-down Saab Automobile that would build 45,000 to 50,000 cars a year, and would not require a loan from the European Investment Bank.

In 2008, the last year for which figures are available, Saab sold 93,295 cars worldwide.

GM announced plans to wind down the iconic, loss-making Swedish brand on December 18 after failing to reach an agreement with Spyker, but has said it would continue to consider bids for the group.

Spyker on Thursday presented a revised offer to GM. The details were not disclosed.

Meanwhile, British media reports Friday said Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone had teamed up with a Luxembourg investment firm to launch a last-minute rescue bid for Saab.

Luxembourg-based Genii Capital announced it was interested in making an offer with Ecclestone, just as the deadline for final bids for Saab expired at 2200 GMT Thursday, the BBC reported.

The privately-held firm said it would "aggressively work towards a successful closing of the transaction with all the relevant stakeholders of the company," according to the BBC.

Saab, which employs 3,400 people in Sweden, is one of four storied brands being shed by GM as part of a massive restructuring effort that began in 2005 accelerated last year when the largest US automaker went bankrupt.

Analysts have warned that some 8,000 jobs could be lost with Saab's closure.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

10:02 January 8, 2010 by Nemesis
Now the people who should own SAAB are bidding for it.

If GM refuses to sell to everyone it is because they want to shut down SAAB out of vindictiveness.

I hope SAAB ends up in Swedish hands or failing that European ownership.
10:09 January 8, 2010 by bjinger
why so late...
10:24 January 8, 2010 by Nemesis
@ bjinger,

Simple, it takes a while to get together the capital for a bid and to get straight as possible answers out fo SAAB regarding any problems that may arise. GM's legal representatives are notorious for delaying giving answers.

If they turn down Jan Nygren it will be very interesting. GM will have to explain itself publicly. Also the change in Government this year will go very badly for GM if they play games with Nygren like they did witih Konegsegg.

Ecclestone and Nygren bidding. Looks like GM's game playing has backfired. They will be caught between an anvil and hammer, if they play games.

Looks like the entertainment is only beginning.
11:32 January 8, 2010 by spy
There are obviously serious buyers with money. GM better prepare for a public backlash if they close Saab now. Not just from car nuts but also from their shareholders who will suffer greatly!
12:58 January 8, 2010 by Bensonradar
This is good news. As I've said before, it is possible to keep Saab profitable by making a smaller volume of cars.

Keeping it as a special marque or brand, with a good margin per car sold, is better than trying to mass-produce large volumes and realising a smaller margin per sale.

Mass production of cars is often not the answer as it often dilutes the brand. If the brand is as distinguished as Saab, it keeps an edge of exclusiveness which is what premium car buyers want and expect. Not cheap boxes on wheels for a mass market audience which are available elsewhere.

While the economy struggles to come out of recession, it is better to undersupply the market until demand firms up and confidence returns. Running a smaller plant turning out fewer units will achieve this.

Just one point though, "...is one of four storied brands..." what does this mean, please?
13:14 January 8, 2010 by John F
Don't make it harder than it is: GM has set the price and when someone shows up with the money the sale will go forward.

Two questions: Is everyone looking to get Saab for a bargain price? If the Saab advocates claim the business is worth a lot of money . . . shouldn't they bring the money to the table?
14:05 January 8, 2010 by spy
John F

To my knowledge GM has not set the price for Saab and therefore it is pretty easy for them to turn down bids for a variety of reasons. We will see whether they engage with these new parties or whether this whole affair has been a cynical charade.
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