The inside track: Spyker

Dutch luxury sportscar maker Spyker, which is to buy Sweden's Saab from US auto giant General Motors, is a minnow in the global automotive industry.

The inside track: Spyker

In the first quarter of 2009, Spyker manufactured 21 cars and sold 23 — with prices starting at €199,990 ($283,000), according to spokesman Niels Molewijk.

Saab, in comparison, sold close to 100,000 cars in 2008.

Spyker chief executive officer and co-founder Victor Muller has himself described the company, with about 90 assembly workers, as a “mosquito” compared to the “elephant” that is Saab with its 3,400 employees in Sweden alone.

Thirty percent of the shares in the Dutch company, based in Zeewolde in the central Netherlands, are owned by Russian finance group Convers — which is controlled by Russian billionaire Vladimir Antonov.

Another 25 percent is held by the Mubadala Development Company, owned by the government of Abu Dhabi.

The Spyker company, founded in 1898 by brothers Jacobus and Hendrik-Jan Spijker, built luxury cars and aircraft engines until 1925, when it ceased trading.

The Spyker brand was relaunched in 2000.

“The cars are designed according to client specifications, built by hand and destined for a niche market,” journalist Andre Hoogeboom, author of a book on the company, told AFP.

Spyker has never made a profit. It produced 43 cars in 2008 and sold 37, reporting turnover for the year of €7.85 million — up 53 percent from 2007 but still representing a loss of €24.7 million.

In the first quarter of 2009, it recorded an €8.7 million net loss.

Last November, the company announced it would move its assembly line from Zeewolde to Coventry in the United Kingdom to cut costs, resulting in about 45 jobs out of a total of 135 being scrapped.

A lot of this could be explained by a “limited production line,” said Hoogeboom, but also by Spyker’s participation in Formula One racing in 2006 at a cost of tens of millions of euros.

Spyker has yet to confirm whether it will sponsor a racing team for 2010, including for the Le Mans endurance race.

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Spyker to continue fight for GM Saab pay out

Dutch car builder Spyker on Thursday said it will appeal the dismissal of its $3.0 billion claim in a US court against General Motors, which Spyker accuses of deliberately bankrupting Sweden's Saab in 2011.

Spyker to continue fight for GM Saab pay out

“Spyker… shall appeal the ruling of the District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan,” in favour of GM, the plaintiff car group Spyker said in a short statement from its headquarters in the central Dutch town of Zeewolde.

It did not give any further details.

Spyker filed a lawsuit in August claiming $3 billion in damages.

It alleged that GM criminally interfered in an operation that could have made it possible for Saab, which Spyker bought in 2010, to restructure and stay afloat, because the US automaker wanted to dominate the Chinese market.

Saab, a former GM subsidiary, filed for bankruptcy in December 2011 after teetering on the edge of the abyss for almost two years. A last-ditch bid to raise funds in China, with the Youngman group, was blocked by GM over issues concerning the transfer of technology.

Chinese carmaker Youngman had long been interested in buying Saab and tried

to snap it up before it declared bankruptcy — but its efforts were stymied by Saab’s former owner, GM, which balked at transferring the necessary technology


At the time, Spyker’s chief executive Victor Muller said that the $3 billion claim in compensation represented the value which Saab would have represented had the deal with Youngman gone through, but analysts at the time were sceptical whether the suit would succeed.

GM in its response to the claim denied any criminal action or intent, saying Saab had granted it a contractual right to agree, or not, to the transaction proposed by Spyker.

The US carmaker sold Saab in 2010 to Spyker. A deal reached parallel to the sale allowed Saab to keep using GM technologies and keep production going, but allowed GM to stop the arrangement if Saab changed hands.

GM has maintained that Spyker bought Saab “knowing its financial history, and subject to terms spelled out unambiguously in the arrangements attached to the complaint.”

“Those agreements include clear contractual limitations in the future use of GM’s technology, and on the transfer of technology to others,” GM said in a document, filed before the court a month after Spyker filed the claim.