GM's $400m deal with Spyker saves Saab

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The Independent Online

General Motors agreed last night to sell its Saab Automobile brand to the Dutch car-maker Spyker after more than 12 months of trying to offload the Swedish marque.

Spyker, a company that was liquidated in the 1920s only to be reborn as a luxury sports car specialist in 2000, said it would pay GM $74m in cash and $326m in deferred shares for Saab.

Spyker only joined the bidding last month, but a sale was already looking so unlikely that within weeks GM began to wind the company down, including its factory at Trolltattan. It suspended the shutdown yesterday.

Under the agreement, Spyker will form a new company – Saab Spyker Automobiles – to take over the brand. Saab Automobile is seeking to borrow €400m ($564m) from the European Investment Bank, a loan that Sweden said yesterday it would guarantee. If all goes to plan, the deal will be done by the middle of next month.

The purchase will transform Spyker, which currently employs 110 people and produces between 30 and 50 cars per year, each selling for about £150,000. Saab employs 3,400 workers and, although its sales dropped by half last year, it still built 24,000 cars.

After Spyker's first offer, GM said before Christmas that Saab had no future. Within three weeks there were three new bids: one from Spyker; a pitch from the Formula One tycoon Bernie Ecclestone and Genii Capital, and one from a Swedish consortium.