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$74 million deal saves Saab

by Peter Valdes-Dapena, senior writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- General Motor's Swedish Saab brand has been saved from certain death thanks to a last-minute deal with Dutch exotic car builder Spyker.

Spyker has agreed to pay $74 million in cash and $326 million in preferred stock in a new Saab that will emerge from this deal. The Swedish government has agreed to guarantee a $563 million (400 million Euro) European Investment Bank loan for Saab.

Spyker C8 Aileron Spyder
Spyker C8 Aileron Spyder

Spyker, founded in 2000, makes exotic sports cars costing more than $200,000. Only 250 have ever been sold. This year, the carmaker hopes to sell 100 of its Spyker cars worldwide. Spyker production was moved from the Netherlands to Great Britain late last year.

"Today's announcement is great news for Saab employees, dealers and suppliers, great news for millions of Saab customers and fans worldwide, and great news for GM," said John Smith, GM vice president for corporate planning and alliances, in a corporate announcement.

The deal is expected to close in mid-February, GM said.

As part of the deal, Spyker Cars will change its name to Saab Spyker Cars

"We are very much looking forward to being part of the next chapter in Saab's illustrious history," said Spyker CEO Victor Muller in statement. "Saab is an iconic brand that we are honored to shepherd."

Saab had been on the verge of launching two new models, a redesigned 9-5 mid-size car and the new 9-4X crossover SUV. Those launches will now continue, Smith said, with GM providing parts and support.

The 9-5 is already being produced Sweden, Spyker said. GM is producing the 9-4X, which is closely related to the new Cadillac SRX, in its Mexican factory.

Saab Spyker is expected to take over relationships with Saab's U.S. dealer network, Smith said. Warranty support will continue without interruption, he said.

"A bright spot for Saab, and potentially why Spyker worked so hard to acquire it, is some of the solid new product in its GM-based pipeline," said James Bell, an analyst with the Kelley Blue Book's KBB.com.

Saab is one of four brands, along with Hummer, Saturn and Pontiac, that GM is dropping as it attempts to restructure itself since emerging from bankruptcy in June. A deal to sell Saturn to the Penske Automotive Group fell through when Penske could not find a partner to supply cars for the brand.

A deal has been signed to sell Hummer to China's Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co., but that deal is on hold pending approval by the Chinese government. No attempt was ever made to sell Pontiac.

Another supercar maker, Sweden's Koenigsegg Group AB, had dropped negotiations to buy Saab in November. Since the end of 2009, Saab has officially been in a "wind down" mode even as GM said it was considering bids from outside investors, including Spyker, which has announced several revised offers in an attempt to reach a deal.

Spyker's motto, emblazoned over the logo on their cars, which as an airplane propeller over an old fashioned wire car wheel, is "Nulla tenaci invia est via." ("For the tenacious, no road is impassable.")  To top of page

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