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by Tim Beissmann

Exotic Dutch supercar manufacturer Spyker Cars N.V. has come to a last minute binding agreement with General Motors, saving Saab Automobile AB and securing its future as an independent company.

Spyker will pay GM US$74 million in cash and exchange US$326 million in preferred stock to acquire the Swedish brand, with Saab to exit its orderly wind-down process before the transaction is closed in February.

Spyker CEO, Victor R. Muller, said his company was looking forward to being part of the next chapter in Saab illustrious history.

“Saab is an iconic brand that we are honoured to shepherd. We are delighted to have secured the jobs and livelihoods of thousands of loyal Saab employees, suppliers and dealers and to have given reassurance to the 1.5 million Saab drivers and enthusiasts around the world.

“Spyker Cars will provide Saab with the backing required to compete as a competitive global brand along with an entrepreneurial leadership team sensitive to the uniqueness, heritage and individuality of the Saab brand,” Mr Muller said.

The Swedish Government is also providing significant backing for the deal, granting Saab a 400 million euro loan from the European Investment Bank which is set to be finalised in the coming weeks. Spyker has also secured 150 million euro in back-up financing from GEM Global Yield Fund Ltd.

Saab Automobile AB CEO, Jan Åke Jonsson, said the fighting spirit that his company has shown during the past 15 challenging months will serve it well going forward.

“Today’s news is great for Saab’s customers, dealers, suppliers and employees around the globe. The level of passion and support shown to Saab over recent months has been remarkable and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those people who continued to believe that Saab deserved a future.

“Now we aim to get back to the execution of our business plan and with the continued support of our employees and business partners I am confident we will succeed,” Mr Jonsson said.

The US$74 million purchase price will be paid to GM in two instalments. The first instalment of US$50 million will be paid on the date of completion of the transaction, expected to take place on or before February 15, 2010. The second instalment of US$24 million will be paid on July 15, 2010. Upon completion of the transaction GM will retain redeemable preference shares of US$326 million. The preference shares represent less than one percent of the voting rights in the capital of Saab.

GM Europe President, Nick Reilly, said he was pleased that a deal had finally been reached.

“As a responsible corporate citizen in Europe, and throughout the entire period, GM has always had the hope to find a positive solution for Saab that would avoid a wind-down of the brand. We have worked very hard with many parties, including governments and investors, and I’m very pleased that we could come to such a positive conclusion that preserves jobs in Sweden and elsewhere. GM will continue to support Saab and Spyker Cars on their way forward,” Mr Reilly said.

Spyker plans to convene a general meeting of shareholders as soon as practically possible to approve the transaction and to change the name of Spyker Cars N.V. to Saab Spyker Automobiles N.V.

In spite of media reports that certain parts have already been sold off, the object the deal is Saab as a complete entity with all IP rights, trademarks, facilities and other infrastructures. The sale of pre-2003 Saab 9-3 and current Saab 9-5 technology to China’s BAIC in December 2009 did not result in any part of Saab’s business being divested or devalued. Saab has already started the production of the new generation Saab 9-5 in Trollhättan, Sweden, where around 3400 people are employeed.

Saab sold 39,903 vehicles in 2009 and lost 400 million euro after selling 94,751 vehicles in 2008 and recording a similar 300 million euro loss. It has not turned a profit since 2001.

Saab has been making cars in Trollhättan since 1949 and the deal with Spyker now gives life to plans for a new 9-3 and the all-new 9-4 SUV.




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