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Merbanco out of Saab bidding; Eccelstone, Spyker remain

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Merbanco out of Saab bidding; Eccelstone, Spyker remain

01/14/2010, 6:11 PMBY ANDREW GANZ

Wyoming-based investment firm Merbanco has confirmed that General Motors will no longer consider its offer for Saab. Merbanco, which is led by a self-described Saab enthusiast, says it will support any other offer to acquire the brand from GM.

“Despite our best efforts and meeting the Sellers requirements, we were just notified we were not selected to buy Saab,” Merbanco CEO Christopher Johnston posted on enthusiast site SaabsUnited.com. “We are disappointed and quite tired.”

Formula One chief Bernie Eccelstone’s offer, which backs Belgium’s Genii Capital, was supposedly increased earlier this week. Spyker’s Victor Muller told the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit that the company has “shown GM the money” needed to purchase the brand. No word has emerged from GM on a preference for one bid over the other, although Eccelstone’s bid is said to have increased the legitimacy of keeping Saab operable to GM brass.

A decision could come as early as tomorrow, according to some reports, although GM has admitted that it might drag out the process into February. A liquidator has been dispatched to Sweden to begin dismantling the automaker, even though production ramped up earlier this week of the 9-3 convertible (which was previously built in Austria) and the all-new 9-5 is undergoing pilot production.

Muller has said that as long as the factory is still operating, Spyker will continue to make its offer known.

GM says it wants a relatively easy-to-obtain $450 million for Saab, but it also wants proof that a new bidder will be financially capable of keeping Saab running. The brand, which only received one wholly new product during its 10 year American ownership, has rarely been profitable, according to GM.

Meanwhile, Saab enthusiasts worldwide have organized mass gatherings to show their support for the beleaguered automaker. A Russian group went as far as producing a commercial (shown below) that was reportedly aired on local television. GM’s other discarded brands, Pontiac and Saturn, did not receive near this level of support from owners.

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