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Spyker extends Saab deal deadline

AFP/The Local · 21 Dec 2009, 23:52

Published: 21 Dec 2009 23:52 GMT+01:00

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But the Swedish government vowed to help Saab employees threatened by the car maker's closure after a crisis meeting on Monday.

The meeting took place just hours before Spyker said it had scrapped a Monday evening deadline and extended its last-ditch bid to buy Saab.

"Spyker has been in contact with GM today and continues to develop its proposal for the purchase of Saab. Spyker has extended the validity of its proposal therefore until further notice," the company said in a statement.

Spyker's surprise announcement of its renewed bid late Sunday, two days after GM broke off talks with the Dutch group and said it would close down its Swedish loss-making unit, sent Saab's future into limbo.

Enterprise Minister Maud Olofsson refused to be drawn on the chances of a last-minute rescue, focusing instead on measures to help retrain workers and promising financial aid to Saab's hometown of Trollhättan in southwestern Sweden.

"We have to start from the decision that GM has taken ... to shut down (Saab). In that case we want to be prepared and show local and regional authorities and employees there are resources, and they do not have to be worried," Olofsson said, announcing various measures along with Employment Minister Sven-Otto Littorin.

Among other things, she announced 542 million kronor ($75 million) to create jobs and growth in the region.

Saab employs about 3,400 people in Sweden. According to media reports, Saab's closure could lead to more than 8,000 job losses, including subcontractors and others dependent on the carmaker.

"GM can if they wish decide to continue discussing a sale, but that is not in our hands," said Olofsson, who had earlier told Swedish radio she was sceptical about Spyker's chances of succeeding in saving the automaker.

Neither GM nor Spyker was present at the session, but Spyker chief executive Victor Muller told Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet he was meeting with GM and was hopeful the troubled US giant would accept his company's new bid.

"If I didn't think there was a chance I would not be meeting them," he said.

Swedish Radio, citing anonymous sources close to the talks, said the meeting was held in Stockholm.

GM has been trying to sell Saab since the start of the year.

One of Sweden's most respected auto industry analysts, Matts Carlsson, said GM was probably not interested in selling Saab at all, suggesting the US carmaker would rather shut down Saab because of fears over future competition.

"They are probably figuring that they would rather take the cost associated with shutting down (Saab) so as to not end up with competition in five, 10 years," Carlsson told Swedish public radio Monday.

GM decided earlier this year to hold onto German brand Opel after initial plans to sell it. Both Saab and Opel have in recent years been manufactured on the same platform.

Story continues below…

Svenska Dagbladet meanwhile reported Spyker's Russian investors Vladimir and Alexander Antonov were no longer behind the Dutch group's bid for Saab -- reportedly one of the sticking points in the negotiations with GM.

Spyker refused to comment on the report.

Following the crisis talks, the chairman of Sweden's main engineers' union urged Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt to take up Saab's fate directly with US President Barack Obama.

"We need to have a direct contact ... to make GM look seriously at the new ownership proposals," Haakan Danielsson told Swedish news agency TT, arguing Obama ultimately heads GM since the US state is the troubled carmaker's main stakeholder.

The heads of Sweden's influential IF Metall and Unionen unions, along with Danielsson, meanwhile issued a statement saying they believed "the conditions for a solution with a new owner have increased" on Monday.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

03:56 December 22, 2009 by repat_xpat
"they do not have to be worried," -- Olofsson

Thank goodness for Olofsson. Everyone can go back to fika, nothing to worry about.

I hope Matts Carlsson's reputation is overstated or Sweden has a serious lack of Auto industry experts. GM is not afraid of SAAB coming back and being a competitor. If SAAB had that potential, GM wouldn't be dumping it. GM just doesn't want to give away billions its intellectual property - the real objective of any buyer.
06:43 December 22, 2009 by Mr B
GM stole all the technology from Saab in the first place,the only thing American companies think about are themselves.
08:45 December 22, 2009 by Shiva5
"GM stole all the technology from Saab in the first place,the only thing American companies think about are themselves."

Yes... ummm, of course. Sure they did. SAAB had all kinds of unique technology that GM couldn't find anywhere else. LOL
08:46 December 22, 2009 by michalino
I agree with Mr B in all points.Don't let die the SAAB of. It has a future. At least it would be better to sell it to the Russian owner as to car maker in China.
08:58 December 22, 2009 by GlobalDispute

Can you name a technology that GM stole from SAAB? If you have worked in their engineering center you would know the complete opposite. It is sad if SAAB doesn't survive but do you feel the same for all of the workers in Detroit that are out of jobs also? This downsizing isn't personal it is happening at an even more alraming rate in Michigan. The fact is that GM has to stop the hemorrhaging of money. GM will look out for it's best interests, as it should and that may mean they would rather take a slight loss now and keep the name for later use.
12:41 December 22, 2009 by kris7
"If SAAB had that potential, GM wouldn't be dumping it." -- repat_xpat

Fact is, there are serious bidders who think Saab has that potential. And the fact that Saab was not successful under GM says more about GM than it says about Saab. If there is anyone who has proved not to know how to successfully run a car company, it is obviously GM. And GM is also not known for fair negotiation tactics, ask the German government about that.

It is a shame that the Swedish government does not put any pressure on GM. It looks as if they think they are supposed to protect GM's interests, not those of Sweden.
22:29 December 22, 2009 by Mr B
If GmM had the 'Saab' technology before taking over,why were their cars so rubbish before?Cavalier,Senator etc,not a patch on the classic 900 and 9000.I've seen plenty of European cars in the states,but not to many American cars in Europe,and why? because they are'nt very good.Bigger is not always best
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