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Sweden urges GM to speed up Saab sale decision, paper reports


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Sweden urges GM to speed up Saab sale decision, paper reports

DECEMBER 10, 2009 09:46 CET

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) -- General Motors Co. will need to decide this week whether to sell its money-losing Swedish car unit Saab, daily Svenska Dagbladet quoted the Nordic government's car czar saying on Thursday.

GM said at the start of this month it would consider offers for its Saab brand until the end of the month and move to close the Swedish unit then if it appears that it cannot be sold.

"They must at least have chosen one of the interested parties this week, otherwise it will be tough to complete a deal," the paper quoted Joran Hagglund, state secretary at Sweden's Enterprise Ministry, saying.

"Partly, GM has a lot of contracts to negotiate (with a possible buyer) and partly the European Investment Bank and the (Swedish) debt office need to undertake a detailed economic analysis of a buyer's financial strength."

Saab looked as if it would be saved after GM inked a deal earlier this year to sell the iconic Swedish brand to Koenigsegg Group AB, a consortium of private investors that includes supercar maker Koenigsegg Automotive AB.

But Koenigsegg Group backed out of a purchase in November, leaving little time to find a new buyer.

Interested parties

Since then Dutch luxury car maker Spyker Car N.V. has expressed interest in the carmaker.

GM is also talking to BAIC, China's fifth-largest car maker, about a partial sale of assets associated with its Saab brand, including tooling and technology, two people with direct knowledge of the discussions told Reuters earlier this week.

While the timetable is tight, GM said it could continue to finance Saab after its self-imposed deadline of the end of this year, if a buyer has been identified by then.

GM spokesman Chris Preuss said negotiations could continue with a buyer next year. Asked if GM would continue to support Saab financially, he said:

"Yes, we will continue to run Saab during that period. But I think that ... a decision about Saab is going to come very soon," the paper quoted Preuss saying.

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