GM to mull Saab offers till year end

09:41, December 03, 2009      

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General Motors Co said that it would consider offers for its Saab brand until the end of the month and move to close the Swedish unit then if it appears that it cannot be sold.

The announcement from GM came after a meeting of the automaker's 13-member board of directors in Detroit, at which the company's chief executive resigned, and an appeal by Sweden to consider steps to save Saab.

"The board will evaluate potential bids between now and the end of December," GM said in a brief statement. "At that time, we will determine whether a suitable arrangement for Saab exists. If not, we will begin an orderly wind down of the global Saab business at that time."

The statement came less than two hours before GM Chairman Ed Whitacre announced that Chief Executive Fritz Henderson had resigned after "all involved agree that changes needed to be made". Whitacre is serving as an interim CEO.

Most analysts see a Saab closure as the most likely outcome for the 60-year-old auto brand after an earlier deal to sell the unit to Swedish luxury car builder Koenigsegg collapsed.

"Basically it's a reprieve, but the sands in the hourglass are running," Autoconomy analyst Erich Merkle said. "There is not a lot of time there with Saab."

"To think that you are going to save Saab would be a decision completely based on emotion," Merkle said.

GM said it had received other "expressions of interest" in Saab although it declined to name those potential bidders, citing confidentiality agreements.

A Swedish government delegation met GM representatives on Monday in Detroit in a bid to head off an immediate closure of Saab and its 8,000 workers.

"I think we came as far as we could at this point," said Swedish government spokesman Frank Nilsson, who spoke by phone from GM headquarters. "What's positive is that the process continues."

From Sweden, Saab spokesman Eric Geers said there are a number of parties seriously interested in buying Saab. He did not know how far the bidding process had gone.

"We are confident" Saab will find a new owner, Geers said.

Swedish Enterprise Minister Maud Olofsson said it was too early to say if Saab would survive, but was glad the government had convinced GM to look at other possible buyers and would do all it could to help the process.

Source: China Daily
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