General Motors is considering the offer “very seriously” and a decision on the bid can be expected in “a question of days not weeks,” said Victor Muller, founder and chief executive of Spyker Cars.
The fate of the Swedish car maker seemed sealed last week when GM chief Ed Whitacre said the US auto giant had essentially given up on selling Saab, as nobody had come up with the money to seal the deal.
“We have shown Mr. Whitacre the money,” Muller told an industry conference hosted by Automotive News in Detroit.
“We are absolutely, definitely negotiating in good faith with GM to buy Saab,” Muller told a conference hosted by Automotive News in Detroit.
“They are considering offers very, very seriously.”
Muller said he is “not very concerned about all the steps that are being taken with the wind down” of Saab because they are consistent with the plan GM set forward after a deal fell through with Swedish sportscar maker Koenigsegg.
General Motors announced on December 18 that it would wind down Saab while considering several last-ditch bids for the iconic brand, which has barely turned a profit during two decades under GM ownership.
The bidders include Spyker, a group comprised of Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone and Luxembourg investment firm Genii Capital, and a Swedish group fronted by the former chief executive of German truck manufacturer MAN and a former politician.
“If the sale of Saab doesn’t generate more than the wind-down scenario costs, for them it’s clearly not attractive,” Muller said.
“So it was my job, our job, at Spyker to put forward a proposal that is attractive enough for them to reverse the position.”
Muller declined to provide many details of the offer but he said the Swedish government “has been very helpful so far.”
“The entire project would be fully funded to be able to continue as a going concern, on a stand-alone basis,” he told reporters on the sidelines on the conference.
Saab presents a number of opportunities for Spyker, including access to a global dealer network and the ability to reduce the cost of supplies and research and development, Muller said.
“We’re not interested in just buying an iconic brand, we’re interested because it, as a business, should be viable,” he said.
“Our business plan clearly shows that Saab, of course having sufficient sales, can be a very, very sustainable and profitable company.”
Spyker is currently spending tens of millions of dollars on outsourced product development and Muller said those engineering and research costs could be kept in-house if the automaker had the economies of scale offered by Saab.
Several thousand people gathered for a demonstration in Sweden on Tuesday to call for Saab to be rescued.
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 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.
Muller said a significant number of jobs could be created should Spyker succeed in its bid.
“We would be hiring rather than firing because the production capacity would need to be improved rapidly,” he said.
Muller acknowledged that it would take “a few years” to get Saab back on its feet by bringing the “Saab DNA” that engendered so much customer loyalty over the years back to its product lineup.
Should the deal go through, the new company Saab Spyker LLC would be listed on the Dutch stock exchange.