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Last-ditch Swedish effort to save Saab

Roger Choate · 10 Jan 2010, 11:10

Published: 10 Jan 2010 11:10 GMT+01:00

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Leading the delegation is Jöran Hägglund, Swedish state secretary for industry. Before leaving for Detroit, he told the Financial Times he was surprised that GM decided to launch liquidation in light of fresh offers to buy the brand.

One group includes Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One boss. Another group is led by the boutique Dutch sports car maker Spyker Cars which has been negotiating with GM for several weeks.

Swedish media has reported a third bid approach by Swedish business leaders led by Jan Nygren, a former cabinet minister.

Hägglund told the Financial Times “we still hope there is a chance of a deal, but every day that passes makes it harder. GM is working on a two-track process, and one of those tracks is the wind-down.”

In a earlier statement, Hägglund said that “we will see what we can do, in order to, if possible, contribute to a possible sale of Saab.” A GM spokesman said that the company would seriously consider new bids while also proceeding with liquidation. GM CEO Ed Whitacre has said he is not optimistic about Saab’s survival.

The Swedish Government has repeatedly stated it is prepared to provide loan guarantees if a suitable buyer is found. At stake are 3,400 jobs worldwide, mostly in Sweden where the storied brand is assembled. Purchased by GM in 1989, it has not turned a profit since 2001. In 2008 alone, it lost 3 billion kronor ($423 million). Last year GM said it wanted to sell Saab.

In addition to talks with GM, Hägglund will also meet with officials from Ford. It is selling its Swedish unit Volvo to Chinese carmaker Geely.

Story continues below…

The Associated Press said there was speculation that a Wyoming-based group of investors may also be in the running to buy Saab, which was founded in 1937 as an aircraft company. After World War II it introduced the Saab car that was heavily influenced by aircraft designers.

Roger Choate (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:22 January 10, 2010 by Rick Methven
"GM CEO Ed Whitacre has said he is not optimistic about Saab's survival."


12:50 January 10, 2010 by Scotsaab
Of the four bids submitted we have two reasonably well-financed offers on the table as of January 10 - let's wait and see what happens. It's out of our individual control but a wall of public support for Saab could help deliver a positive outcome. I have no doubt GM's motives are driven purely by a selfish, single-minded goal and corporate greed, but they are taking so much rope here that they may well politically hang themselves in the same way as they have managed to financially bankrupt themselves.

Ignore the negativity - Saab is not Rover.

Saab is worth saving and those in the know and with the power should do all they can to retain this fine marque on the new car listings.
14:09 January 10, 2010 by Nemesis
@ Scotsaab

I agree with you.

I hope it is saved, even if in a reduced state.
16:04 January 10, 2010 by CDRoth
You should have saved the airfare and sundry travel expenses and just made a phone call to the CEO in the White House.
16:23 January 10, 2010 by Rolf100
GM has made it clear that they will sell Saab to whoever has the money - not well funded but up front money (translation cash!). There are a number of financing schemes that may or may not work but GM is still on the hook - get GM off the hook and you would have a sale.

Speculation has it that China is willing to buy key parts of Saab for cash; it might be worth more to GM in smaller pieces.
16:32 January 10, 2010 by derek hughes-beddows
i am on my 19th saab and still aim for the 20th.

i have driven saab since 1980 and would drive no other. I am not a anorak or someone who goes out and cleans the tyre tread every sunday morning, just someone who believes in saab, a product that is reliable, honest and does what it says on the tin. I have 2 kids that have been brought up on saab and i treasure there safety and that is what i have had.

Good luck to SAAB, the employees and their familes over the next couple of very crucial days.
17:46 January 10, 2010 by Gingeer
Good news!!! At least for the people who really do not want to see SAAB might have to be sold to Chinese company. :-D
18:07 January 10, 2010 by calebian22

19 Saabs in 30 years?
18:47 January 10, 2010 by zhqwang
It is very surprising. You protested the bid for selling volvo to China Geely, and you also protest the wind down for SAAB.

I am chinese. I'm glad that Geely buy Volvo. I will buy Volvo car if bid is made.

I think that Geely will produce Volvo in Sweden for noble man in EU and USA. But it will produce Volvo in china to fitable for chinese strain.
19:15 January 10, 2010 by Caribbean guy/Swedish Gal
@ calebian22

thats exactly what i was thinking lol
19:39 January 10, 2010 by saabdude
@ Carribean guy/Swedish Gal & calebian22

Not a surpirse, 19 SAABs in 30 years. My wife & I have had 15 SAABs in 32 years...and still own 4. One just isn't enough, because they are GREAT cars, and you just hate to part with one, when you buy another.

The more the merrier I say!! ;-)
21:55 January 10, 2010 by repat_xpat
I love the picture in this article. 28 people showed up in a town that has 30% unemployment to ask GM to save a company that cost them half a billion last year alone. Ed said it simply, if someone has the money they can have it. Guess no one has come up with the money. GM is not evil, its just trying to survive. GM laid off more people in South East Michigan last year than all of SAAB. It closed Oldsmobile a few years ago its closing Pontiac and Saturn too. GM has to stop the bleeding to survive and no one has offered to do that to save SAAB. This whole thing is a tragedy.
23:27 January 10, 2010 by aaronh21
I hope SAAB finds a buyer who will make them great again.
23:54 January 10, 2010 by millionmileman
When I drove the millionth mile, in my 1989 Saab 900 SPG., in August 2006, at Lake George, New York, I never imagined that events would lead to what we have today, as that year was the best Saab ever experienced.

This past Tuesday, I drove all the way from Milwaukee to Detroit to the "Save Saab" Rally. The past forty years and 2.5 millions miles of driving these superb automobiles, have left me sad and numb. However I refuse to take things lying down. I urge everyone to contact the Swedish government, to back up the loans. If this fails, then the job losses around the world will hurt not only the people who work on Saabs worldwide, but the jobs that are created from those employees. When the unemployed, stop spending in shops and restaurants, neither will they be able to purchase any other company's car (including GM), nor anything else for that matter.
08:33 January 11, 2010 by derek hughes-beddows
Yes, 19 in 30 yrs, still got 3. Had every thing from 99gl's to viggens. Your point is ? Like to think i have had everyone apart fron the new 9-5.
13:06 January 11, 2010 by michalino
I agree with repat_xpat. GM is playing the game only! Maybe they like to sell and get the wins in their own pocket only.
16:18 January 11, 2010 by spy

Your interests are clearly on the US, where you live, and you seem to love GM which is pretty strange in any country. I suspect you may be on the GM payroll. If so why don't you go and say "yes" to a few dinosaurs and leave out the propaganda.

If GM really want to sell Saab why are they running down Saab in the media and why did they continue with liquidation when they had not evaluated the serious offers they have on the table? This just does not make sense and many people are sensing foul play.
22:49 January 11, 2010 by Hambodancer
"GM CEO Ed Whitacre has said he is not optimistic about Saab's survival."

Well, I can't say as I[m very optimistic about GM's survival. Their cars are not as well made, or as well designed, as those coming out of Japan. GM's been trying to catch up with the Japanese for decades, and I was saying 30 years ago that if GM can't compete, they should get out of the car business.

GM has had a negative attitude for decades, starting with the 1930s, when they started buying up city streetcar companies and running them into the ground.
00:45 January 12, 2010 by wetback
"I have no doubt GM's motives are driven purely by a selfish, single-minded goal and corporate greed"

Oh, please. It's called capitalism. What kind of return do you look for on YOUR investments?
18:19 January 12, 2010 by muda
All these are results of free markets which most people embrace. GM is doing business and it does not care about welfare, sensitivity or nationalism. What is after is profit and a handsome bottom line. I believe whoever takes over SAAB other than Swedish will repeat what GM is doing now in years' time. The reason is simple, 1. it is business, 2. It is not a national product , therefore nationalism is not in the picture.
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