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GM begins official Saab wind-down
Saab owner David Hogberg holds a sign near GM HQ in Detroit, Jan 5, 2010

GM begins official Saab wind-down

Published: 08 Jan 2010 16:56 GMT+01:00
Updated: 08 Jan 2010 18:17 GMT+01:00

General Motors have taken the decision to start official proceedings to wind down the Saab Automobile organisation in Trollhättan.

GM said it hired the consulting firm AlixPartners "to supervise the orderly wind-down of Saab, and has requested approval of the selection by the appropriate authority in Sweden."

The US auto giant, in the process of a massive restructuring after bankruptcy last year, said the process for Saab "is expected to take several months, and will ensure that employees, dealers and suppliers are adequately protected."

The IF Metall union, which has a representative on Saab's board, criticised GM for taking such a step at the same time that it had confirmed having received several bids for the iconic Swedish brand.

"It is irresponsible of GM as an owner to go in two directions, both pursuing the sale (of Saab) and the winding up," Löfven said.

Several groups, including Dutch sportscar maker Spyker and a group comprised of Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone and a Luxembourg investment firm, have said they presented GM with last-ditch bids to rescue Saab.

"It is unintelligible and irresponsible to do that now without reviewing the serious bids that have been placed for Saab," Löfven said.

"GM's decision is not in line with the signals we have received from the company about its sincere intentions of wanting to sell Saab and seriously reviewing incoming bids," he added.

GM Europe's spokesman Stefan Weinmann confirmed to AFP on Friday his company had "received several proposals" for Saab but said the US auto giant was still going ahead with its planned closure of the Swedish brand while considering any new bids.

"Essentially, the two processes will continue in parallel, which means we'll continue with a (winding up) and at the same time we will look at the proposals and analyse them and see whether we can find a good solution for everybody," Weinmann said.

GM's actions regarding the Saab sale, which it put on the block a year ago, have been repeatedly denounced by the Swedish government and Saab's unions.

"We will see what we can do, in order to, if possible, contribute to a positive sale of Saab," Jöran Hägglund, Swedish enterprise ministry state secretary, told Swedish news agency TT on Friday.

He will be heading a Swedish delegation travelling to Detroit on Saturday to hold talks early next week with officials from GM and Ford, which is in the process of selling its Swedish unit Volvo to Chinese carmaker Geely.

Saab Automobile employs 3,400 people in Sweden and is one of four storied brands being shed by GM as part of a massive restructuring effort that began in 2005 and 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.

Saab's board met on Friday in the carmaker's hometown of Trollhättan. A GM

source told AFP on Thursday that the closing of the operation was on the meeting's agenda.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:20 January 8, 2010 by Nemesis
This is terrible news.

All political parties in Sweden should make an election pledge to have the entire board of GM explain why they have turned down all bids.

All money given to GM since taking over SAAB need to be immediately recovered by Konofogen, as a national priority from GM, its share holders and board members. That would wake up GM if they find themselves in court paying all that back.
16:29 January 8, 2010 by Tiddler
Yes, I bet they are scared s******* by that.
17:16 January 8, 2010 by Hong Kong Phooey
"General Motors have taken the decision to start official proceedings to wind down the Saab Automobile organisation in Trollhättan, according to media reports."

What media reports?!

This is typical of the The Local and the Swedish media to spin negative press.

GM have hired AlixPartners to oversee the wind down of Saab. This is a normal part of the wind down process that GM announced on the 18th December. I would say hardly news worthy unless you have nothing better to report. Oh yeah, The Local didn't even include this information in their half arsed story.

For those of us who care,

It ain't over yet for Saab
18:32 January 8, 2010 by spy
Another stupid decision. With bids on the table they go and announce that they intend to move forward with the wind-down. If they really had an appetite to sell Saab then they would have held off on this announcement and reviewed the bids properly. This is a charade. And with Detroit Autoshow days away will the media be talking about cars or this???? These guys never cease to amaze.
18:38 January 8, 2010 by tillerman
Hej Nemesis,

Trying to collect won't work. First, the company has lost money, so if anything Saab would owe GM. Second, GM went through bankruptcy, which nullified previous debts even if there were any. If Sweden were to take GM to court it would end up having to sue the US Government. Guess who could pay for the most lawyers.....
18:44 January 8, 2010 by Thebinary1
Hmmm ... I don't quite like to play the devil's advocate here but face it: SAAB is a lost cause!

Here are the main reasons:

1. GM is waiting for the Swedish government to put public money in a private corporation. Once the money has been places, GM will do "an Opel" on SAAB. Remember once public money goes into GM - its not getting out anytime soon.

2. No government is in any position to play dice with public money. The Swedish government knows this and they are sticking to their principles. The job loss and macufacturing marooning that would result from the SAAB shutdown will be a short-term consequence to Swedish Public Funds. This is better than the long-term consequence of option 1 above.

Basically this is a loose-loose situation for the Swedish Government. If they give GM money, they are idiots - and if they let GM kill SAAB the government is a bigger idiot.

So what is this anxiety all about. Well, its a game of chicken! GM is telling the Swedish Government that the corporation is "GOD" and can incite anti-government sentiments. The Swedish Government is denying GM its GOD-liness status hoping that its rational citizens understand the facts. 1 point for Socialism and 0 for Capitalism.

That said: Yes the government clearly understands what is at stake. Once SAAB is lost, Sweden's prestige and manufacturing powress gets severely dented - PERMANENTLY! And GM knows this very well!
19:02 January 8, 2010 by Zoolander428
I agree with Binary's first comment, that SAAB is a lost cause... however, the rest is BS.

GM isn't interested in playing politics. GM is a business (run poorly... but it's goal is still to make a profit even if they are terrible at it).

GM will take anyone's money - but it has to be enough to: 1) be higher than the amount they can get by shutting it down... and 2) be high enough to justify having another competitor in an already flooded market.

GM has no interest in saving jobs, and they shouldn't. Jobs should be there for the people who produce something that makes a profit... regardless of who's fault it is, it is obvious SAAB is not creating a profit for GM.

Why shouldn't they wind down operations? Simple, operations cost money. They create cars that sold at a loss, when they could have a chance to sell other brands at a profit.

SAAB has been up for sale long enough for anyone to raise the capital needed to purchase - IF it was worth purchasing. Who is going to put enough money out there to buy a money losing business, in a flooded market with no signs of recovery?? No one. That is why the bids have not met the requirements laid out above.
20:10 January 8, 2010 by solskenflicka
I am so angry with GM right now. I think that this is outrageous and that SAAB is such a great car with so much heritage. How could this HAPPEN
20:26 January 8, 2010 by Hong Kong Phooey
"GM isn't interested in playing politics." They might not be interested in playing politics, but they ARE playing politics.

GM clearly want a clean break from Saab.

If they sell Saab they have to support it with all the shared parts, engines, platforms, etc. They obviously don't want to so they are 'entertaining' these offers, it seems, for the press' and their own sick entertainment, while still proceeding with the wind down plans.

I hope that Genii-Ecclestone 'Cash' offer as it is called has a clean break in mind so that the good people at Saab don't have to be suffocated by the fat pigs at GM anymore.
20:57 January 8, 2010 by Scotsaab
He may not be the motor sport world's favourite character, but if Bernie Ecclestone is involved the the Luxembourg-based bid you can rest assured the finance is there along with the business accumen and the connections to make Saab thrive.

He looks like a potential, if unlikely, Saab saviour and about the only hpe left as GM start pulling the plug.
21:02 January 8, 2010 by Zoolander428
Hong Kong - you are right in the sense they are playing BUSINESS politics... but in the sense of government politics, as Binary suggested, they are not.
21:26 January 8, 2010 by Hong Kong Phooey
Politics, mind games, hardball, call it what you like. GM, the Governments involved, the bidders and the banks involved, are all playing. That's business. But normally this is done to achieve a common goal, which in this case is to make a 'sincere effort' to sell Saab.

So why is it not yet sold?

Without a suitable explanation otherwise I maintain the cynical(if you may) view that GM are playing their own game which is not to sell Saab at all. We will probably never find out the reasons behind this, but meantime the poor folks at Saab, in Trollhättan and the affected surrounding area and businesses are being tortured by this shameless corporate prank.
21:52 January 8, 2010 by ebermannstadt
Saab has been part of GM for so long now that their product is nothing more than a rebodied Opel, therefore the ongoing survival of Saab depends on a close relationship with Opel / Vauxhall. Therefore the only sensible survival prospect would mean being part of the Opel/Vauxhall company, whose's own future is still unsure. GM it appears have woken up to the fact that they actually need Opel to develop good cars for their world markets, including North America these days. Many of GM's most successful products are Opel products including almost the entire South American and Offshore lines. Recently Opel products like the Malibu and the Cruze have shown GM that the Opel products are just what they need to compete with the Japanese. So assuming GM retains Opel/Vauxhall which has surpluss manufacturing capacity in Europe anyway, why would they need another factory in Sweden.

If I were GM I'd transfer Saab production to Russelsheim which would fill surplus capacity there. The Saab brand would also enable Opel/Vauxhall to offer products in the higher price bands and reach a different clientel. The brand is nothing more than four plastic letter S, A, A and B. The factory in Sweden an expensive luxury. If Saab can't build Saabs at a profit, I bet Opel could. (Opel build Cadillacs in Russelsheim, why not Saabs?)
22:14 January 8, 2010 by wxman
You socialists can thank your fellow traveler Obama for this. Afterall, he owns GM. Welcome to the People's Republic of Amerika!
23:28 January 8, 2010 by Hong Kong Phooey
I've got a great idea. Why don't somebody re-body a Subaru Impreza, call it a Saab 9-2, and sell it in the US because it would be ideal for the American market.

Then, re-body a Saab 9-3, call it Cadillac BLS(build it in Trollhättan ebermannstadt!) and sell it in the EU because it would be a perfect product for Europe!

What do you reckon?

Nah, I think it is pretty stupid, but GM might find it interesting.

Damn! A Saabaru would be perfect in this weather. It's a shame you can't buy one here.
01:43 January 9, 2010 by repat_xpat
"It's real easy, just show up with the money and you can have it,"

"But nobody's shown up with the money so we're in wind-down mode here."

"I don't think we could do any more than we've done. I think we've done everything possible."

-- Ed Whitacre: GM's CEO.

Ed said it all, simply and straight up. No conspiracy, not hate, no evil, just simple math.

Maybe the other article in today's thelocal.se sheds some insight on the subject: "Sweden: Worlds most expensive country"
02:52 January 9, 2010 by 2394040
GM isn't interested in playing politics??? I can't believe I heard that. GM is one of the very large American corporations that OWN the US government. They are definitely playing politics. Where do you think American politicians get the money to run for office? They get it from American big business! And American big business lets those American politicians know, in no uncertain terms, what they must do if they want to stay in office. If anyone believes that GM isn't interested in playing politics, then someone has lost touch with reality. GM was one of many American big businesses who wrote the rule book on how to run American government. After all, isn't GM snubbing the Swedish government at this moment? GM could care less what the Swedish government thinks.
07:14 January 9, 2010 by falcon
The Wyoming group has been here for months, They know more about Saab than all other buyers in total. Sell it to them.
09:09 January 10, 2010 by muda
GM is playing politics and putting pressure on buyers by winding up SAAB. Why Swedish people are so sentimental about SAAB. Let the market forces determine its destiny.
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