Will GM Let Saab Go Out Of Business?
DETROIT (AP) -- General Motors Co. has not talked with any other potential buyers for the Swedish Saab brand since a specialty car maker pulled out of a deal to buy it this week, a person briefed on GM's plans said Wednesday.
The development is another sign that GM's board may decide when it meets next week to let the storied brand go out of business, placing 4,500 jobs in jeopardy.
The person, who asked not to be identified because no final decision has been made on the brand, confirmed Wednesday that the board would discuss Saab's future on Dec. 1.
On Tuesday, a group led by Sweden's Koenigsegg Automotive AB dropped out of a deal to buy Saab that had been in the works since June. The group said it had trouble getting investors to agree on how to move the Saab brand from mass-market to a niche luxury brand, and as talks dragged on with investors and GM, Koenigsegg saw hopes dim for making money on its investment.
Before Koenigsegg emerged as a buyer in June, GM had plans to let the storied brand go out of business. Saab has been in a court-protected restructuring since Feb. 20. No purchase price was ever disclosed.
Beijing Automotive Industry Holdings, which had joined the Koenigsegg group, said Wednesday it will re-evaluate Saab, but it stopped short of saying it would make an independent bid.
"In view of Koenigsegg's withdrawal, we will carefully re-evaluate the project and make the appropriate arrangements," Beijing Auto said in a statement.
Koenigsegg's decision was a blow to GM's efforts to keep the Saab brand alive while it tries to recover from a stay in bankruptcy protection by focusing on four core brands: Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac.
It was GM's third deal to sell an unwanted brand that has fallen through this year.
GM's board earlier this month ended a deal to sell the European Opel brand to a group led by Canadian auto parts maker Magna International Inc., fearing that Opel was too heavily integrated into GM's global operations and that GM technology would fall into the hands of competitors.
In September, auto dealership chain owner Roger Penske scrapped plans to buy Saturn after an agreement to get cars from France's Renault fell through. The GM board decided to phase out Saturn, a possible fate for Saab.
But GM will keep and restructure Opel, which unlike Saab, is considered critical to GM's international vehicle development.
A deal for Chinese manufacturer Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Corp. to buy Hummer is awaiting approval by the U.S. and Chinese governments.
Another bid, by China's Geely Group for Swedish automaker Volvo Cars, which is owned by Ford Motor Co., has not yet been completed.