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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

At least 100 GM dealerships will be reinstated, Whitacre says

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At least 100 GM dealerships will be reinstated, Whitacre says

GM's interim CEO is pessimistic about Saab sale

Chrissie Thompson

Automotive News -- January 6, 2010 - 4:01 pm ET

Ed Whitacre, General Motors Co.'s chairman and interim CEO, expects at least 100 GM dealerships will be reinstated in the arbitration process mandated by a new federal law.

“I think a large number will get reinstated,” he said today in a meeting with reporters. “I think that's a given. It's in the hundreds.”

The law, signed by President Obama last month, sets up a six-month period in which dealers can appeal their rejection to neutral arbitrators. Dealers have until Jan. 25 to give notice that they intend to file for arbitration.

An arbitration judgment must be handed down by June 15. In bankruptcy last summer, Chrysler rejected 789 dealerships, while GM said it would wind down 1,350 through October 2010.

Reinstating the dealers won't jeopardize GM's profits, Whitacre said. He thinks GM will be profitable in 2010.

Meanwhile, Whitacre is pessimistic about finding a buyer for the Saab brand.

“It's real easy,” he said today in a meeting with reporters. “Just show up with the money and you can have it, and nobody's showing up with the money.”

Whitacre said he didn't see how GM could have tried any harder to sell the brand.

The automaker said earlier that it will continue to wind down the brand as it entertains bids for Saab.

Spyker Cars NV, a small Dutch automaker, has shown the most interest in Saab since GM's deal to sell it to Koenigsegg Group AB, a tiny Swedish automaker, fell through in November.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100106/RETAIL07/100109953/1400#ixzz0bsE8gXM7

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