Spyker buys Saab for $74m. Latest news, analysis

Published: 26 January 2010

Dutch sports car maker Spyker Cars has agreed to buy Saab from General Motors, GM confirmed on Tuesday evening. Spyker has reportedly paid $74m in cash to GM, while the European Investment Bank is coming up with a €400m loan guaranteed by the Swedish government.

The new company will be called Saab Spyker Automobiles. GM will keep its oar in, in the shape of $326m preferential shares (less than 1% of the voting rights in Saab capital).

The Wall Street Journal reports that Saab has total assets, including plants and technology, totalling around €1 billion, and debts of €528m.

Shares in Spyker were suspended earlier on Tuesday, after speculators sent shares in the Dutch firm soaring on rumours of the deal. Confirmation came at around 6.00pm GMT on 26 January when the binding agreement with GM was announced.

'Today’s announcement is great news for Saab employees, dealers and suppliers, great news for millions of Saab customers and fans worldwide, and great news for GM,' said John Smith, GM vice president for corporate planning and alliances. 'General Motors, Spyker Cars, and the Swedish government worked very hard and creatively for a deal that would secure a sustainable future for this unique and iconic brand, and we're all happy for the positive outcome.'

The sale isn't quite a done deal yet. It's subject to approval from regulators and courts, but is likely to be rubber stamped by mid February 2010 when the EIB loan is granted (subject to sign-off by the Swedish government). But the wind down of the Saab business has been immediately suspended.

What are Spyker's plans for Saab?

Spyker chief executive Victor Muller wants to keep the 'Saabish' qualities of the Swedish car maker, he's revealed in interviews, but his detailed plans have yet to become clear. Now the deal has been publicly announced more clarity should emerge.

Muller owns the Tenaci Capital BV finance house, which is providing a further $50m loan to Saab; as widely reported, Tenaci chairman Russian banker Vladimir Antonov has sold his shares and quit the company as part of the deal.

Spyker seems to be living up to its motto: nulla tenaci invia est via, for the tenacious no road is impassable. An interesting new chapter opens in the history of Saab...



>> Come back to CAR Online for the latest on the Saab story. Click 'Next' to read yesterday's news on the sale

 

 

General Motors' newly confirmed chairman and chief exec Ed Whitacre today made clear that there was no progress on the sale of Saab – despite widespread expectations that Dutch supercar specialist Spyker was close to clinching the deal.

In a hastily convened press conference held in Detroit, Whitacre said he would assume day-to-day control of GM after his short stint as caretaker manager since the departure of Fritz Henderson last autumn. But he said: 'We have not changed our direction on the wind-down of the Saab operation. Obviously there have been advanced talks with Spyker Cars to acquire Saab... but we do not have a deal to announce this morning.'

It's a bitter blow for those who were hoping an announcement was due to end months of unease and speculation over the future of Saab. Look's like we'll be waiting a while longer.

In other GM news, the Texan CEO claimed the New GM was trading ahead of all the key metrics put forward in its viability plan – with market shares holding or growing despite halving the number of GM brands. The business plans to repay its US and Canadian loans by June 2010 and will go ahead with its public share offering when it judges the market conditions are right.

The background to Saab's sell-off

Earlier today the newswires were buzzing that GM and Spyker had finally reached an agreement on the sale of Saab. Bloomberg had even reported that Spyker would pay $75 million to GM, while GM would keep $100m in Saab liquidity and $325m in preferred shares in a new Spyker-owned Saab.

The race to save Saab was sparked a year ago when GM, with bankruptcy looming, admitted it had run out of patience with Saab which has long been a drain on its finances. It had to find a buyer for Saab or close it, decided then-CEO Rik Wagoner, as the General focused on its core brands and cut costs. But bidders fell by the wayside, including Swedish supercar maker Koenigsegg which had seemed in prime position for much of 2009.

What's holding up the Saab-Spyker deal?

The typical small print in a deal of this stature. Numbers and small print are keeping the bean counters busy – but it seems that the deal hinges on support from the Swedish state. The government in Sweden said today that it had not yet decided whether to grant state guarantees for €400 million European Investment Bank loans contingent on Spyker's takeover bid.

And don't rule out a last-minute change of heart; Genii Capital said they hadn't given up hope entirely, although they admit that Spyker are in pole position.

 

 

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet

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