December 18, 2009 – General Motors Co. said Friday it will shut down Saab after talks to sell the brand to Dutch carmaker Spyker Cars collapsed, marking the third time this year that a deal by GM to sell an unwanted brand has fallen through.
GM said it had a small window of time to complete the deal and issues arose during the sale talks that could not be resolved. GM Vice President John Smith said representatives from GM, Spyker and the Swedish government were still in discussions Friday morning when talks fell through. Smith declined to elaborate on the reasons.
“We’ve been trying to restart, if you will, an investment process without a great deal of time,” Smith, who is in charge of GM’s corporate planning and alliances, said during a conference call with reporters. “Like everybody, we would have preferred a different outcome, and we all worked very hard for that different outcome and we’ve come up short.”
GM first sought a buyer for Saab in January as part of its restructuring, which included plans to cut the number of its brands to four from eight. It was previously in talks to sell Saab to a consortium led by the Swedish sports car maker Koenigsegg Group AB, but it turned to Spyker after Koenigsegg withdrew from the talks in November.
Speculation has since been rampant on the future of Saab. Earlier this week, GM Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre told reporters he had “a sense it’s possible” that the sale to Spyker would go through, but conceded the brand would close by the end of the year if the talks fell apart.
On Monday, China’s Beijing Automotive Industry Holdings — originally part of the Koenigsegg consortium — announced it had agreed to buy some powertrain technology from Saab. It gave no details of costs or timing of that purchase.
On Friday, Beijing Autos said it wants to explore further cooperation with GM’s Saab Automobile such as “new energy vehicles.”
GM’s failure to sell Saab is the third deal to sell an unwanted brand that has fallen through this year.
In September, auto dealership chain owner Roger Penske scrapped plans to buy Saturn after an agreement to get cars from France’s Renault fell through. GM is now phasing out Saturn.
GM’s board last month ended a deal to sell the European Opel brand to a group led by Canadian auto parts maker Magna International Inc., fearing that Opel was too heavily integrated into GM’s global operations and that GM technology would fall into the hands of competitors.
GM will keep and restructure Opel, which unlike Saab, is considered critical to its international vehicle development.
One success has been GM’s effort to sell Hummer. The brand is going to Chinese heavy equipment maker Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Corp.