Spyker extends Saab deal deadline

Spyker extends Saab deal deadline
Spyker CEO Victor R Muller
Dutch sports car maker Spyker has dropped its Monday evening bid deadline and remains in talks with General Motors over the possible purchase of iconic Swedish brand Saab Automobile.

But the Swedish government vowed to help Saab employees threatened by the car maker’s closure after a crisis meeting on Monday.

The meeting took place just hours before Spyker said it had scrapped a Monday evening deadline and extended its last-ditch bid to buy Saab.

“Spyker has been in contact with GM today and continues to develop its proposal for the purchase of Saab. Spyker has extended the validity of its proposal therefore until further notice,” the company said in a statement.

Spyker’s surprise announcement of its renewed bid late Sunday, two days after GM broke off talks with the Dutch group and said it would close down its Swedish loss-making unit, sent Saab’s future into limbo.

Enterprise Minister Maud Olofsson refused to be drawn on the chances of a last-minute rescue, focusing instead on measures to help retrain workers and promising financial aid to Saab’s hometown of Trollhättan in southwestern Sweden.

“We have to start from the decision that GM has taken … to shut down (Saab). In that case we want to be prepared and show local and regional authorities and employees there are resources, and they do not have to be worried,” Olofsson said, announcing various measures along with Employment Minister Sven-Otto Littorin.

Among other things, she announced 542 million kronor ($75 million) to create jobs and growth in the region.

Saab employs about 3,400 people in Sweden. According to media reports, Saab’s closure could lead to more than 8,000 job losses, including subcontractors and others dependent on the carmaker.

“GM can if they wish decide to continue discussing a sale, but that is not in our hands,” said Olofsson, who had earlier told Swedish radio she was sceptical about Spyker’s chances of succeeding in saving the automaker.

Neither GM nor Spyker was present at the session, but Spyker chief executive Victor Muller told Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet he was meeting with GM and was hopeful the troubled US giant would accept his company’s new bid.

“If I didn’t think there was a chance I would not be meeting them,” he said.

Swedish Radio, citing anonymous sources close to the talks, said the meeting was held in Stockholm.

GM has been trying to sell Saab since the start of the year.

One of Sweden’s most respected auto industry analysts, Matts Carlsson, said GM was probably not interested in selling Saab at all, suggesting the US carmaker would rather shut down Saab because of fears over future competition.

“They are probably figuring that they would rather take the cost associated with shutting down (Saab) so as to not end up with competition in five, 10 years,” Carlsson told Swedish public radio Monday.

GM decided earlier this year to hold onto German brand Opel after initial plans to sell it. Both Saab and Opel have in recent years been manufactured on the same platform.

Svenska Dagbladet meanwhile reported Spyker’s Russian investors Vladimir and Alexander Antonov were no longer behind the Dutch group’s bid for Saab — reportedly one of the sticking points in the negotiations with GM.

Spyker refused to comment on the report.

Following the crisis talks, the chairman of Sweden’s main engineers’ union urged Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt to take up Saab’s fate directly with US President Barack Obama.

“We need to have a direct contact … to make GM look seriously at the new ownership proposals,” Haakan Danielsson told Swedish news agency TT, arguing Obama ultimately heads GM since the US state is the troubled carmaker’s main stakeholder.

The heads of Sweden’s influential IF Metall and Unionen unions, along with Danielsson, meanwhile issued a statement saying they believed “the conditions for a solution with a new owner have increased” on Monday.

Member comments

Become a Member to leave a comment.Or login here.