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Justin Bimmer

Spyker CEO Says GM Has Responded to New Bid for Saab

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Spyker CEO Says GM Has Responded to New Bid for Saab

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By Ola Kinnander and Jeroen Molenaar

Dec. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Spyker Cars NV Chief Executive Officer Victor Muller said General Motors Co. has responded to the Dutch sports-car maker’s revised bid for the Saab unit, days after the U.S. carmaker said it will shutter the brand.

Saab would still seek a development loan from the European Investment Bank under the new offer, Muller, 50, said today in a telephone interview. The CEO declined to say whether Russian businessman Vladimir Antonov, the chairman and biggest investor in the Zeewolde, Netherlands-based sports-car maker, still has a role in the new bid.

General Motors said yesterday that it received inquiries from “several parties” regarding Saab after announcing that it will close the Trollhaettan, Sweden-based unit following the collapse of talks with Spyker. Muller said today that Spyker’s 5 p.m. New York time deadline to reach an agreement “is becoming less of interest” as talks progress.

“There’s a dialogue ongoing,” Muller said from his car while traveling in the Netherlands. “It’s very hard to predict the outcome, particularly since GM in principle has taken a decision to shut Saab down.”

Johan Willems, a GM Europe spokesman, declined to comment.

Spyker rose 34 cents, or 20 percent, to 2.05 euros in Amsterdam for its steepest increase since Dec. 2, valuing the carmaker at 44 million euros ($63 million).

EIB Loan

The EIB approved a 400 million-euro loan on Oct. 21 for Saab to develop more fuel-efficient cars. GM was in talks at the time with Koenigsegg Group, the bidder that walked away from a purchase agreement on Nov. 24.

Spyker will contact the EIB today to inform the bank that its bid is still on, Muller said. The EIB has given no indication of whether a new board decision is needed, he said. Spyker’s revised offer is no longer conditional upon the bank giving clearance by Dec. 31, the CEO said.

The Luxembourg-based bank will “analyze the new ownership picture again” should Saab seek to receive the loan approved in October, EIB Vice President Eva Srejber said today by phone. “For the moment, the ownership picture for Saab is not clear,” she said, declining to comment further.

The Dutch company’s initial bid for Saab was in partnership with Antonov’s RMC Convers Group. Spyker’s Russian ownership and financial backing were among GM’s concerns with its Saab bid, a person familiar with the situation has said. Other issues included intellectual property and the rights to Saab’s vehicle and engine technology, the person said.

Mubadala Role

Mubadala Development Co., Abu Dhabi’s state-owned investment firm, is Spyker’s second-biggest stakeholder and an investor since 2005. The company hasn’t been part of any talks on Saab, Muller said. “They’re a shareholder of Spyker and as such they are a passive participant,” he said.

Muller began his career in 1984 as a lawyer at Caron & Stevens, the Amsterdam office of Baker & McKenzie. In 1989, he became a member of the management team of offshore company Heerema in Leiden specializing in acquisitions. He later took part in a management buyout that made him president of Weismuller Holding BV, a IJmuiden, Netherlands-based harbor- towage and marine-salvage company.

A lover of classic cars, Muller has traveled around the world to show his own collection, which has included a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT and a 1928 Rolls Royce Phantom 1 Experimental Jarvis. In 1999, Muller and business partner Maarten de Bruijn registered the Spyker brand, which was originally founded by coach-building brothers Jacobus and Hendrik-Jan Spijker in 1898 and went bankrupt in 1925.

Formula One

Spyker, which built 43 vehicles last year and whose C8 Aileron nudges 300 kilometers (186 miles) an hour on the speedometer, reported a net loss of 25 million euros for 2008. Muller predicted on Nov. 20 that the luxury-car maker won’t be profitable this year.

A shortfall in production and the 2006 purchase of the loss-making Midland Formula One racing team led Spyker to negotiate a refinancing plan in 2007 and pledge its brand name to secure a bank loan.

Christer Karlsson, a professor at Copenhagen Business School, said he can’t see any synergies between Saab and Spyker. Saab’s sales may plunge to 30,000 cars this year from 93,000 in 2008, he said. European sales slumped 59 percent through 11 months and U.S. sales declined 61 percent in the period.

“We will not give up,” Muller said. “I don’t think GM is being done justice when people say they don’t want to sell. That is clearly not the case.”

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SAAB born from jets. Spyker born from propellers. :neenerneener:

Seriously, now. Let's see where and how this soap opera ends...

Edited by ZL-1
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