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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Last-minute deal saves Saab


McClatchy-Tribune News Service

SAN FRANCISCO Dutch sports car maker Spyker Cars yesterday agreed to buy Saab in an eleventh hour deal to keep General Motors Co. from tossing the Swedish manufacturer onto the scrap heap.

"GM has always had the hope to find a solution for Saab that would avoid a wind down of the brand," said Nick Reilly, president of GM Europe. "I'm very pleased that we could come to such a good conclusion, one that preserves jobs in Sweden and elsewhere."

Spyker will pay about $74 million cash with the European Investment Bank providing a 400 million euro loan (about $566 million) backed by the Swedish government, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

The deal is expected to close in mid-February and Spyker said it intends to form a new company named Saab Spyker Automobiles.

Earlier this month, a deal to shield Saab from its demise appeared unlikely. GM Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre said he didn't see a sale taking place even as potential bidders, like Spyker and Formula One tycoon Bernie Ecclestone, showed interest.

"We said, 'Just show up with the money and you can have it,' and they haven't shown up with the money," Whitacre told reporters at the time.

GM had been trying to sell the business since January last year and has already seen one deal with Swedish sports-car group Koenigsegg fall apart.

GM is working to streamline its business by getting rid of Saab as well as Pontiac, Saturn and Hummer. The automaker, which exited bankruptcy last summer, plans to focus on its core brand lineup of Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac.