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GENERAL MOTORS

Saab lovers to GM: don’t shut Saab down

Saab enthusiasts in North America are heading to Detroit in hopes of urging the company’s US-owner General Motors to sell the struggling Swedish automaker instead of shutting it down as Dutch luxury carmaker Spyker puts the finishing touches to a final bid.

“We hope the event will help send a message to GM to get serious about selling Saab,” Ryan Emge, editor of SaabHistory.com, an independent website about Saab, told The Local.

Emge hatched the idea of getting dedicated Saab owners to show their support for the Swedish automaker after learning of similar efforts being planned by Saab clubs in Europe.

The Saab meet-up in Detroit is set to take place less than 48 hours before the expiration of GM’s extended January 7th deadline for offers to buy Saab.

“We want to let people and GM know that we’re here to save Saab. It’s the right time and the right place,” said Emge.

“Maybe we can step in and take the initiative and cut through a lot of the mixed messages from GM.”

On Monday, Spyker CEO Victor Muller said his company was in the process of revising a final bid and plans to submit the offer by January 7th.

“We have gotten time for a final offer. Nothing has been rejected,” Muller told the Reuters news agency on Monday.

A group including US-based Merbanco investment firm, as well as a unnamed investors from Sweden, is also rumoured to be among the remaining bidders, although GM declined to name any bidders besides Spyker.

A statement from Emge on SaabHistory.com, instructs Saab loyalists from the US and Canada to descend on GM headquarters in Detroit at 1pm local time on Tuesday to show their “unwavering Saab spirit” for the company.

“If there are enough Saab owners and enthusiasts parked outside of the GM Renaissance center in Detroit, perhaps we could really show them how serious we are in wanting Saab Automobile to have a bright future and be sold,” Emge said.

In addition, another independent Saab enthusiast website, SaabsUnited.com, is urging Saab owners to write to their elected representatives to emphasize the importance of Saab dealerships to local economies.

Saab car owners, many of whom remain passionate about the troubled Swedish brand, are hoping that their display of citizen action will help sway GM management toward finding a buyer for Saab.

Emge emphasized that the event was “not a demonstration” but a “gathering” intended to “show our Saab spirit in support of Saab being sold”.

Plans for the “Save Saab” campaign were drawn up in the days following a decision by Saab lovers in Sweden, the Netherlands, and Belgium to travel to Saab Automobile’s headquarters in Tröllhatten in western Sweden on January 17th in another show of support for the loss-making car maker.

“I thought, what can we do in the US, and gathering near GM’s Renaissance Centre in Detroit seemed like the perfect backdrop,” Emge told The Local.

Saab, which has barely turned a profit in two decades under GM management, employs about 3,400 people in Sweden, although media reports suggest more than 8,000 jobs, many among subcontractors, would be lost if the automaker shut down.

Despite Saab’s dwindling sales, Emge remained optimistic about the brand’s future, blaming much of the sales slump on the economic crisis and GM’s lack of effort to market and promote Saab.

“You can’t use recent sales figures as a gauge for Saab’s popularity,” he said.

Emge added that GM would have a lot to gain by selling Saab rather than simply winding the company down, as any new owner would likely work closely with GM for several years to come.

“GM stands to earn a lot of money if they can find the right buyer to help bring Saab back to where it should be,” he said.

Emge had no estimates on how many Saab lovers may turn up in Detroit on Tuesday, noting it is a workday and the rally was organized on rather short notice.

“It’s sort of last minute, but it’s important,” he said.

“We would hate for GM to think that no one really cares about Saab and that it’s therefore OK to shut it down.”

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FOOTBALL

Victor Lindelöf signs for Manchester United for £31 million

Swedish international centre-back Victor Lindelöf from Benfica has signed for Manchester United for a fee believed to be £31 million ($39.6 million).

Victor Lindelöf signs for Manchester United for £31 million
Victor Lindelöf. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

“I'm thrilled to be joining Manchester United,” said the 22-year-old after penning a four-year deal.

“I have enjoyed my time at Benfica enormously and I have learned a lot there. But I'm looking forward to playing in the Premier League at Old Trafford and for José Mourinho.”

Lindelöf joined Benfica from home-town club Västerås SK in 2012 and won three Portuguese league titles and two Portuguese Cups during his time in Lisbon.

Lindelöf is the second centre-back signed by United manager Mourinho following last year's signing of Ivory Coast international Eric Bailly from Villarreal.

Mourinho also has England pair Chris Smalling and Phil Jones at his disposal, along with Argentina international Marcos Rojo, while Dutch utility man Daley Blind has slotted into central defence on occasion.

“Victor is a very talented young player, who has a great future ahead of him at United,” said Mourinho on Wednesday.

“Our season last year showed us that we need options and quality to add depth to the squad and Victor is the first to join us this summer. I know that our fantastic group of players will welcome him as one of us.”

Lindelöf is United's first signing of the summer as they build up towards a Champions League campaign next season.

He told MUTV that he was ready to fight for his place in the team.

“Of course there are some great players here in my position,” said the Swede.

“I'm here to do my best to try to help the team as much as I can and it's always good to have other good players around you. When you have that, you get better as well.”

“I think every move means you have to adapt to a new environment but I feel comfortable in myself. I trust myself and it's going to be tough but I'm looking forward to it.”

“I always had a dream of coming here to play in the Premier League so, for me, it's a dream come true.”

United are also in the market for a striker, having included Zlatan Ibrahimovic, currently sidelined by a serious knee injury, on their list of players to be released.

Real Madrid striker Alvaro Morata is one name linked with a move to Old Trafford.

His agent said earlier this week that United had lodged a “very important offer” with the Spanish giants to try to bring him to Manchester.