Saab Revived, New 9-5 Coming to U.S. Next Quarter

By Michelle Krebs January 27, 2010

General Motors Co.'s completion of a deal to sell its Saab Automobile AB unit to Dutch exotic-car Saab 9-5 2010 headon.jpg maker Spyker will see production of the all-new 9-5 flagship begin in volume in April and U.S. sales in the second quarter.

"I'm happy for Saab employees and Saab customers all over the world," said John Smith, GM vice president, global planning and alliances.

Smith also said the Saab 9-4, a crossover based on GM's "Theta Premium" or TE  platform that underpins the Cadillac SRX, also will soon be produced by the new company, although he was not specific about when the 9-4X will begin production.

The deal netted GM $74 million in cash and about $326 million worth of preferred stock in the new company believed to be called Saab Spyker. And the Swedish government provided the guarantee for a loan from the European Investment Bank for approximately $550 million.

The deal for which both companies had moved toward stiltingly for months finally was "reformulated in a way that was more attractive to us," Smith said in a conference call with reporters. He said GM was able to wrench out more upfront cash and the final financing structure "gives Saab Spyker some runway" that will improve its chances for success in building cars for a brand on which GM lost money for the better part of a decade.

Saab 9-4x.JPGGM upfront payment is not unsubstantial given Spyker's small size, while the preferred shares are redeemable after 2013 - or earlier, based on Saab Spyker's preference.

Smith added that although he could not speak to every detail of Spyker's side of the transaction, it was his understanding that Russia's Convers Group had no direct investment in the deal. It was widely reported the presence of Convers as an early investment partner with Spyker had caused difficulty in the negotiations because of GM's reticence to enable potential technology transfer to a Russian Automaker associated with Convers.

Smith said Saab's Trollhatten plant in Sweden already is producing limited numbers of 9-5s and that production will ramp up to full volume by early in the second quarter.

He also said GM will be producing powertrains and other vital components and providing engineering support for "an extended period of time."

For this reason, Smith said GM has a vested interest in seeing the new Saab Spyker prosper - using vehicles based on GM architectures and relying heavily on GM-made components - despite the fact those models will directly compete against GM in the marketplace. - Bill Visnic, Senior Editor  

Photos by GM

1 - Saab 9-5

2 - Saab 9-4X

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