Saab may get a second life

by Catherine Tymkiw, producer and Peter Valdes-Dapena, senior writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Don't close the coffin on Saab just yet.

Spyker, a Dutch maker of exotic cars, said Sunday that it had made a new offer to General Motors for the Swedish car brand.

GM announced on Friday that it would let the brand die after it had failed to reach a deal with potential buyers, including Spyker and Swedish carmaker Koenigsegg.

Early Sunday, Spyker Chief Executive Victor Muller said the company had submitted a proposal that addresses the issues that had hung up a deal.

"Despite our collective 11th-hour set-back, we are returning to the table with a renewed offer, that addresses every known issue brought to light during the initial negotiations and that has the full backing of the Saab management," Muller said in a statement.

"Our efforts are based on our passion for saving an iconic brand that we would be honored to shepherd, and the jobs and livelihoods of thousands of loyal Saab employees, suppliers and dealers around the world," he added.

Some 3,400 employees globally would be directly affected by Saab's closure, according to GM spokesman Chris Pruess.

In a statement on Sunday, GM said it had "received inquires from several parties" following Friday's announcement. The company added that it would "evaluate each inquiry."

Spyker's offer is set to expire Monday at 5 p.m. ET.

Saab has never been a big-selling car brand, but the recent global recession and news of the brand's possible demise have driven sales down to crisis levels. Saab's U.S. sales have fallen by more than half so far this year.

Sweden's other major automaker, Volvo, is currently owned by Ford (F, Fortune 500), which is in the process of selling it to the Chinese automaker Geely.

What went wrong

GM previously said that the potential deals with both Spyker and Koenigsegg fell through because of unspecified issues that arose during negotiations.

As of Friday, GM was still planning to sell some Saab 9-3 and 9-5 technologies to the Chinese automaker Beijing Automotive Industry Holdings Co. Ltd. That deal was announced last week.

GM has owned a major stake in the Swedish automaker since 1989 and took full ownership in 2000; Saab has been making cars since 1949. GM will now begin winding down Saab production, but warranties will continue to be honored, and spare parts will still be available, the company said.

In the past two decades, GM has made every effort to turn Saab into a profitable car brand, Smith said. But recent global economic problems were simply too much for the still-weak automaker to survive.

As part of its government-sponsored bankruptcy restructuring, GM planned to sell of or wind down four of the eight brands it recently operated.

Pontiac is being wound down; a deal to sell the Saturn brand to Penske Automotive fell through in September; and a deal to sell the Hummer SUV brand to Chinese heavy equipment maker Sichuan Tengzhong is awaiting government approvals.

GM's remaining brands are Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac. To top of page

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