GM winds down Saab as two bids appear in rear-view mirror

By Calvin Palmer

Saab, the Swedish car maker, is running on empty. Today, parent company General Motors announced it had begun “an orderly wind down” but is also evaluating “several proposals”.

Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone confirmed that he is planning to make a last-ditch bid, in partnership with Genii Capital, a Luxembourg-based private equity firm,  to rescue the Saab marquee from the scrap yard.

Ecclestone views Saab as “a good brand that has probably been neglected by the current owners”.

In a statement, Genii Capital said it wanted to make an offer for a majority stake in Saab “in a partnership” with Ecclestone and added “it will aggressively work towards a successful closing of the transaction with all the relevant stakeholders of the company”.

At a meeting postponed from yesterday, the General Motors board announced it had it hired the consulting firm AlixPartners “to supervise the orderly wind-down of Saab, and has requested approval of the selection by the appropriate authority in Sweden.”

The process for Saab “is expected to take several months, and will ensure that employees, dealers and suppliers are adequately protected”.

Dutch car maker Spyker said last night it had made a revised offer to General Motors for Saab.

Spyker chief executive Victor Muller said: “We believe the Saab brand has lots of potential and would be keen to close a deal as quickly as possible.”

General Motors announced last month that it planned to shut down Saab after failing in a year-long attempt to find a buyer. Saab has made a loss throughout 20 years of U.S. ownership.

[Based on reports by The Daily Telegraph and AFP.]

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