Page last updated at 18:15 GMT, Friday, 8 January 2010

General Motors winds down Saab despite sale talks

Saab logo
GM said it would continue efforts to sell Saab

General Motors (GM) says it has begun the process to "wind down" Saab, but will also continue efforts to find a buyer for the Swedish carmaker.

GM said it had selected restructuring group AlixPartners to supervise an "orderly" winding down at Saab, which it expected to take several months.

The US group also confirmed that it had received several proposals for Saab, which it was continuing to evaluate.

One bid has come from a group including Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone.

Swedish union IF Metall, which has a representative on Saab's board, criticised GM's decision to start the liquidation process while still continuing to explore a sale.

"It is irresponsible of GM as an owner to go in two directions, both pursuing the sale [of Saab] and the winding-up," said Stefan Loefven, the union's leader.

Bid interest

Late on Thursday, two groups said that they had made bids for Saab.

One group includes F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, in partnership with Luxembourg-based private investment company Genii Capital, which recently invested in Renault's F1 team.

Mr Ecclestone told the Bloomberg news agency that Saab was "a good brand".

The second confirmed bid has come from Dutch sports carmaker Spyker.

Swedish newspapers have also speculated that there has been a third bid approach by a group of Swedish business leaders, but this has not been confirmed.

"We will see what we can do, in order to, if possible, contribute to a positive sale of Saab," Joeran Haegglund, Swedish enterprise ministry state secretary, told Swedish news agency TT on Friday.

He will lead a Swedish delegation to Detroit on Saturday for talks early next week with officials from GM and Ford, which is in the process of selling its Swedish unit Volvo to Chinese carmaker Geely.

Protracted sale

GM has been trying to sell Saab since January last year.

In June, GM announced that it had agreed to sell it to sports carmaker Koenigsegg, only for the Swedish company to pull out of the deal in November.

Saab, which employs 3,400 people in Sweden, lost 3bn kronor (£255m; $412m) in 2008, and it has not made a profit since 2001.

Founded in 1937, Saab was bought by GM in 1989.

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