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Oracle of Delphi

GM's Saab Brand Is Drawing Fresh Interest

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By JOHN D. STOLL And IAN EDMONDSON

Officials with General Motors Co.'s Saab unit said the brand has received serious expressions of interest from potential buyers since Tuesday's collapse of a deal to sell the Swedish car maker to Koenigsegg Group AB.

Saab Automobile AB officials are now racing to build a case for GM's board and its chief executive to keep Saab alive, a spokesman said.

Saab has held talks since Tuesday with at least two U.S. investment firms, Wyoming-based Merbanco LLC. and Ira Rennert'sRenco Group Inc., according to several people familiar with the matter. At least one of those firms would be open to working with Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co., a Chinese company that had planned to partner with Koenigsegg.

"We've had intense dialogue with potential buyers," Eric Geers, a Saab spokesman, said Friday. He said Saab's management team, headed by Jan-Ake Jonsson, is preparing a presentation for GM's board that lays out the company's options.

Mr. Jonsson's case to save Saab will be bolstered by comments from Swedish government officials on Friday indicating they remain ready to act as guarantor on €400 million loans from the European Investment Bank. Sweden will send a delegation to Detroit to meet with GM officials early next week.

GM's board will begin its regular monthly meeting Monday evening, and a decision on Saab's future could be made public by Tuesday. GM's post-Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring plan included selling, closing or fixing several of the company's auto brands.

Saturn and Pontiac are slated for closure, while Hummer is in the process of being sold to a Chinese machinery maker and Opel will stay in the GM family.

For Saab, the board will rely heavily on CEO Frederick "Fritz" Henderson's guidance, one person close to the matter said. Earlier in the year, Mr. Henderson decided GM's capital constraints meant keeping Saab was unrealistic.

Merbanco founder Christopher Johnston declined to comment on negotiations and a Renco spokesman couldn't be reached. Beijing Auto has said it will cautiously evaluate its position.

The interest from both Merbanco and Renco is predicated on the EIB loans and Swedish backing, the people briefed on the matter said. Sweden's plan still awaits EU Commission approval.

The board may simply choose to scrap Saab, which failed to turn a profit during the two decades GM was affiliated with it.

State Secretary Joran Hagglund, the Swedish government's main liaison to the auto industry, said Friday that Sweden will still act as Saab's guarantor to EIB loans, and he will be part of the coming week's delegation to Detroit.

He said Sweden was in close contact with GM throughout the Saab sale process and their dialogue had intensified since Tuesday.

Link: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB20001424052748703499404574561812872778726.html

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i love saab, but it almost seems like if they stick around, they'll be a department at Crate and Barrel.

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does C-P F getting bounced have anything to do with this turn of events on Saab?

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For Saab, the board will rely heavily on CEO Frederick "Fritz" Henderson's guidance, one person close to the matter said. Earlier in the year, Mr. Henderson decided GM's capital constraints meant keeping Saab was unrealistic.

Very interesting bit.

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Very interesting bit.

If you remember, Fritz took the same stance on the Opel deal, he supported selling it to Magna. The GM Board decided otherwise. Let's hope they show the same good sense again on Tuesday, we have found a way to reduce Saab cost dramatically. It would make sense to keep it too, now that the Saab tree is about to bear fruit ...

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If you remember, Fritz took the same stance on the Opel deal, he supported selling it to Magna. The GM Board decided otherwise. Let's hope they show the same good sense again on Tuesday, we have found a way to reduce Saab cost dramatically. It would make sense to keep it too, now that the Saab tree is about to bear fruit ...

This was the most important aspect for not letting it go. Bring on the 9-1 and 9-3 and a good halo car to support 9-4X and 9-5, with that SAAB would be complete.

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If you remember, Fritz took the same stance on the Opel deal, he supported selling it to Magna. The GM Board decided otherwise. Let's hope they show the same good sense again on Tuesday, we have found a way to reduce Saab cost dramatically. It would make sense to keep it too, now that the Saab tree is about to bear fruit ...

you give koenigsegg a little dough to make like they wanted to for a few months until the beancounters could recook the books right before the new bun comes out of the oven?

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We've heard the same song and dance about Saturn.

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We've heard the same song and dance about Saturn.

Saab can/will be different, we can roll the production and engineering cost in with Opel, shut down various operations in Sweden and move production to various Opel plants, thereby saving a bunch of EU dollars and making Saab competitive in it's home market and abroad ...

The Saab brand still has cache ...

We still need the GM Board's approval, hopefully we get that on Tuesday ...

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Saab can/will be different, we can roll the production and engineering cost in with Opel, shut down various operations in Sweden and move production to various Opel plants, thereby saving a bunch of EU dollars and making Saab competitive in it's home market and abroad ...

The Saab brand still has cache ...

We still need the GM Board's approval, hopefully we get that on Tuesday ...

Here's hoping. I've always liked SAAB, and was sad to hear the deal fall through. But as long as SAAB is still around, and kept with a party that "gets" it and doesn't just use it as a dumping ground for its own vehicles, I'm OK.

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>>"...we can roll the production and engineering cost in with Opel, shut down various operations in Sweden and move production to various Opel plants, thereby saving a bunch of EU dollars and making Saab competitive in it's home market and abroad..."<<

This was the general plan when GM took over saab (combining engineering costs, moving production). saab resisted numerous times & in numerous ways - they don't want to play.

Maybe it'll all be different this time around and all saab management will be shown the door so some of these saving practices can be executed.

Uh-huh.

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