NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

With deal done, Saab focuses on financing

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With deal done, Saab focuses on financing

Jason Stein

Automotive News -- February 1, 2010 - 12:01 am ET

Spyker’s Victor Muller wants to hammer out a long-term deal under which GMAC would finance Saab sales and floorplanning.

Victor Muller, CEO of Spyker Cars NV and Saab's new owner, has no plans to reduce Saab's dealer network immediately and hopes to forge a long-term deal with GMAC Financial Services to be the Swedish brand's primary lender.

"Our first job is to get financing back for Saab," Muller said last week in an interview. "We have a relationship with GMAC, and we're absolutely bound to make that happen."

Last week, General Motors Co. and Spyker, a small Dutch producer of luxury sports cars, reached a binding agreement on the Saab purchase.

As part of the agreement, Spyker intends to form a new company, Saab Spyker Automobiles. Muller said he is "in discussions" with GMAC to complete an arrangement that would allow the lender to finance new and used vehicles as well as provide floorplanning for Saab dealers.

Some Saab financing from lenders other than GMAC "stopped overnight" 13 months ago after GM said Saab was under strategic review, Muller said. "That's 80 percent of sales in America," he added.

Muller hopes to have an agreement with GMAC by the time the deal closes with GM in mid-February.

Last year, Saab's U.S. dealerships sold 8,680 vehicles, down 59 percent from 2008.

In a statement last week, GMAC said it "welcomes the opportunity to continue as Saab's preferred finance company, and we are in discussions with GM and the Spyker organization about the transition."

Muller said he has no plans to reduce Saab's U.S. dealership roster. Swedish luxury-car maker Koenigsegg Group -- which bid for Saab, then pulled out in November -- had planned to eliminate 81 of 218 U.S. stores.

"The last thing we want to do is alienate the distribution network," Muller said. "It is going to take more time to assess any dealer shutdowns. And we do not intend to do that."

When the deal closed Tuesday, Jan. 26, Saab was three days away from producing its last vehicle, Muller said.

"This company was on the road to shutdown, and now it's the opposite. It's a massive, 180-degree turnaround," he said. "We have to now get out of the process where this company was near liquidation. ... It was clearly a narrow escape."

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20100201/RETAIL02/302019912/1142#ixzz0eIIPiVjE

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Since a significant number of people (not to mention companies) lease cars, this new SAAB organization has to look at this issue yesterday! Low residuals don't help as they increase the cost for people leasing the cars, but it has to be addressed anyway.

Re dealers, cheaper to let the weakest ones rot away. Hopefully it won't be in areas where SAAB has the most potential to cling on to sales and eventually grow...

Edited by ZL-1
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