Page last updated at 20:44 GMT, Tuesday, 26 January 2010

General Motors sells Saab to Dutch firm Spyker

Saab logo
Saab has not made a profit since 2001

Sweden's Saab is being sold to Dutch luxury carmaker Spyker, General Motors (GM) has confirmed.

GM has been trying to sell Saab since January 2009. Earlier this month, it said it would start to shut down the firm while still looking for a buyer.

But GM said wind-down activities would be immediately suspended, "pending the close of the transaction".

Spyker sold 43 cars in 2008, when it posted a loss of $35m (£21m). It has yet to make a profit in six years.

Spyker has agreed to pay $74m in cash for Saab, John Smith, GM vice-president for corporate planning and alliances, told reporters.

Under the deal, GM would also get $326m worth of preferred shares in Saab.

Jorn Madslien
Jorn Madslien, Business reporter, BBC News

Saab, the car that emerged from a company making fighter jets, is set for a new existence as a subsidiary of Spyker, a small, loss-making Dutch sports car maker.

Spyker chief Victor Muller says he wants to create more jobs, rather than reduce the Saab workforce, as he is keen to prevent the number of cars produced from falling further.

But others have tried and failed to make Saab into a volume carmaker.

For the 3,400 workers at Saab's factory in Trollhaettan, the deal offers a glimmer of hope for the future, though it is too early to suggest their jobs are safe.

The Swedish government has also agreed to guarantee a 400 million-euro (£349m; $563m) loan Saab had requested from the European Investment Bank, which was seen as key to the sale.

"Now the deal between Spyker and GM has been finalised, so the government has today taken the decision to give loan guarantees to Saab Automobile," Enterprise Minister Maud Olofsson said.

'Great news'

Saab lost 3bn kronor (£255m; $412m) in 2008, and has not made a profit since 2001.

US group GM rejected an earlier offer from Spyker for Saab in December.

Shares in Spyker were earlier suspended on the Amsterdam stock exchange, with the Dutch financial market regulator saying the move was "pending [a] press release" from the company.

Its shares were 2.8% higher before the suspension, after having risen more than 60% on Monday.

"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 GM's John Smith.

"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," he said.

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