Supercar maker and industrial group Koenigsegg today announced it had signed the deal to buy every one of GM's shares in Saab. The news clears the way for Saab's rebirth as an independent car maker freed from the shackles of General Motors and follows an earlier memorandum of understanding.
Koenigsegg has signed the stock purchase agreement to buy 100% of Saab – but there are still numerous hurdles before the deal completes 'in the next few months.'
So don't hold your breath for a Saab supercar then!
Exactly. Deals on this scale take ages to negotiate all the fine print. The Swedish government has to finalise its funding plans and GM must also decide the level of interim funding it will inject into Saab. Car-Peter Forster, president of GM Europe, warned 'the closure of the deal is contingent on the funding commitment from the European Investment Bank, guaranteed by the Swedish government.'
Sounds like today's announcement is a part of a game of political cat and mouse, then. Industrial takeovers on this scale often involve brinkmanship and bartering over the financials – especially when your parent company is itself up for sale.
However, it is a step in the right direction and Saab today said it hoped to exit bankruptcy protection under Swedish law later this week. The GM deal is understood to hand Saab to Koenigsegg essentially for free - with all the manufacturing equipment and assets included.
What are Koenigsegg's plans for Saab?
Over to the man himself. 'We have now concluded another important step in realizing the great potential of Saab,' said Christian von Koenigsegg, chief exec of Koenigsegg Group. 'Our plan is to transform Saab into a stand-alone vibrant entrepreneurial company and make it sustainable by making it profitable. We will revive Saab’s Swedish heritage of ecological sensitivity, safety, design innovation and fun-to-drive experience.'
Jan Åke Jonssson, managing director of Saab, said: 'This is excellent news for everyone connected to Saab around the globe. This is an important step to secure jobs and our long-term future as a Swedish car maker. In the short-term, it will enable us to move forward with exciting new cars starting this month with the all new Saab 9-3X.'
But what about the long-term future for Saab?
As part of the deal, Saab is negotiating licensing and service agreements so it can continue to use GM hardware on its next generation of cars. The new 9-5, for instance, is based on the same Epsilon architecture you'll find under a Vauxhall Insignia, and Saab will be guaranteed a supply for a set period.
However, in the longer run the Swedes will have a challenge to maintain access to high-cost engineering components. It plans to build around 130,000 cars a year under Koenigsegg – rising to nearer the 180,000 capacity of the Trollhattan factory in Sweden once the new 9-3 and other models have arrived.