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GM, Sweden Hastening to Close Saab Deal

from Jan-Willem Vester
Manager, Saab Automobile USA Corporate Communications

GM, Sweden Hastening to Close Saab Deal – Edmunds AutoObserver

By Bill Visnic— February 9, 2009

A report from Europe late last week says General Motors Corp. and the government of Sweden could be hurrying to broker an arrangement for GM’s wholly-owned Saab Automobile AB that would effectively re-establish Saab as an independent automaker.

GM’s Carl-Peter Forster was reported as saying GM and the Swedish government are working quickly to refine the details of a deal – authorized and financed by Sweden – that would establish independent, Sweden-based management for Saab and re-establish most, if not all, of the company’s auto manufacturing once again in the Scandinavian nation, said a story by Britain’s AutoCar magazine.

GM is rushing to tie-up the plan so that Saab might at least technically no longer be a part of GM when the company presents its next restructuring blueprint to Congress Feb. 17 and other federal entities in order to be considered “viable” and worthy of receiving continued government funding.

Although Sweden reputedly continues to stress it has no interest in owning Saab, government representatives have said the country would help fund a plan to separate Saab from GM and help establish a new ownership structure, perhaps a coalition of investors.

GM likely will return the brand back to Sweden at virtually no cost for the benefit of showing U.S. government accountants money-losing Saab has been permanently shifted from GM’s ledgers, while also demonstrating the company plans to focus its restructuring investment on its U.S. brands.

A deal to return Saab to indigenous control likely would not mean an abrupt end to manufacturing and engineering ties with GM, however; GM almost assuredly would continue to furnish Saab with design, manufacturing and engineering support, as at least three new Saabs based on GM-designed platforms are well along the development path.

Saab already is near completion of a new and long-overdue replacement for the 9-5 full-size sedan later this year (the current 9-5 went on sale as a ’98 model) and also has similar launch timing for the production version of the 9-4X BioPower concept crossover, a model based on the underpinnings of the recently unveiled 2010 Cadillac SRX.

And late last year, industry rumors said Saab was examining independent development of a compact car, ostensibly badged 9-1, to compete with fuel-efficient premium cars such as the BMW 1-Series and Mini Cooper. That car reputedly would assume the styling of the 9-X BioHybrid concept.

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