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Saab Story

18th December 2009

Pontiac, Saturn and now Saab.  Can Hummer be far behind?  I’m not talking about brands that GM has decided are not “core” anymore, but those that are going or out of business in the last several months.  Pontiac was supposed to become a niche brand, and then the government told GM to shut it down.  Saturn was supposed to be sold to Roger Penske, and when that fell through, GM decided to just shut it down.  Now Saab will have a similar fate.  Saab was supposed to be sold to Koenigsegg, a Swedish producer of exotic sports cars.  That fell through, and then GM sold some of Saab’s assets to Beijing Automotive (BAIC) this week.  Word came out that GM was working with Spyker on a deal for the rest of Saab.  Today, GM made the announcement below.

Detroit.  General Motors announced today that the intended sale of Saab Automobile AB would not be concluded. After the withdrawal of Koenigsegg Group AB last month, GM had been in discussions with Spyker Cars about its interest in acquiring Saab. During the due diligence, certain issues arose that both parties believe could not be resolved.  As a result, GM will start an orderly wind-down of Saab operations.

“Despite the best efforts of all involved, it has become very clear that the due diligence required to complete this complex transaction could not be executed in a reasonable time. In order to maintain operations, Saab needed a quick resolution,” said GM Europe President Nick Reilly.  “We regret that we were not able to complete this transaction with Spyker Cars. We will work closely with the Saab organization to wind down the business in an orderly and responsible manner. This is not a bankruptcy or forced liquidation process. Consequently, we expect Saab to satisfy debts including supplier payments, and to wind down production and the distribution channel in an orderly manner while looking after our customers.”

Saab will continue to honor warranties, while providing service and spare parts to current Saab owners around the world.

As part of its efforts to become a leaner organization, GM began seeking a buyer for Saab’s operations in January.  Last week, Saab Automobile AB announced that it had closed on the sale of certain Saab 9-3, current 9-5 and powertrain technology and tooling to Beijing Automotive Industry Holdings Co. Ltd. (BAIC).  GM expects today’s announcement to have no impact on the earlier sale.

As the company continues to reinvent itself, GM has been faced with some very difficult but necessary business decisions. The focus will remain on the four core brands – Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC – and several regional brands, including Opel / Vauxhall in Europe.  This will enable the company to devote more engineering and marketing resources to each brand and model.

You have to wonder what was the hurry?  GM has only referred to a December 31 deadline to get a deal done.  That sure seems like an artificial/meaningless/arbitrary date, which is fine – it’s their business to run as they please.  Just spare us the self-imposed emergency.

That’s what I think – how about you?  Please leave your comments below.

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