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Genii still optimistic on Saab in final stretch

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Genii still optimistic on Saab in final stretch

January 19, 2010 14:31 CET

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) -- Investment firm Genii Capital said liquidators had yet to start removing vital assets from Saab's facilities, and said it remained upbeat about its chances of buying the money-losing Swedish carmaker from General Motors Co.

Last week a team of liquidators appointed by GM moved into Saab's Trollhattan headquarters and took control of the company following a Dec. 18 decision to start winding it down.

But no action has yet been taken that would make the firm any less attractive to prospective buyers, a spokesman for Luxembourg-based Genii said Tuesday, with GM still in talks with at least one party over a possible sale of Saab.

"We are still optimistic that a deal can be concluded with one of the parties," said Lars Carlstrom, who is coordinating the Genii's bid, which is backed by Formula One mogul Bernie Ecclestone.

"As we understand it, the wind-down is on hold until a statement from GM on the sale ... we're still hopeful."

A source with knowledge of the wind-down process said liquidators were preparing to dismantle Saab, but there would be no "real action" until GM announced a decision to end the sale negotiations.

UK dealers processing orders

Workers at Saab's production facilities in western Sweden have orders to continue making cars until the end of next week, after which there is no clear signal on whether to continue work, the chairman of Saab's main union said on Monday.

IF Metall's Paul Aukerlund said that liquidators from consultants AlixPartners had been on site in Trollhattan for a week, but production facilities had not been modified.

"They have done nothing," he said.

Saab dealers contacted in Britain said they had received no guidance from GM regarding Saab and were continuing to process orders for new vehicles until further notice.

Despite the offers still on the table, GM's bosses have been adamant about wanting to shutter Saab as part of efforts to shed loss-making units. GM killed Pontiac and Saturn in 2009 and is still in discussions to sell the Hummer brand.

Spyker still talking with GM

Of the parties still vying for Saab, Dutch luxury carmaker Spyker has been in discussions longest. Spyker's CEO Victor Muller confirmed on Monday it was still in talks with GM over a deal to buy Saab.

Genii, however, has so far been unable to confirm that it has entered formal negotiations.

The group submitted its offer hours before the expiry of a Jan. 7 bid-deadline and has since revised the bid to demonstrate more financial strength.

In an email to Reuters, GM spokesman Stefan Weimann said the lifespan of sale talks was running short and would remain open only until about mid-February. The question of financing for a purchase of Saab still needed to be resolved, he added.

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