Liquidation of Saab Commences, Still Lingering Hope for a Sale

By Barbara Gay
Barbara Gay
Barbara Gay
January 12, 2010 Updated: January 12, 2010

GOTHENBURG, Sweden—More interested parties come out of the woodwork, but the GM CEO Ed Whitacre wants more money. On Monday, he confirmed that Saab is to be liquidated, but a last-minute sale might still happen.

There are many Saab enthusiasts around the world who don't appreciate the plans by General Motors to close down Saab. They feel the company should be sold. Some American and Canadian enthusiasts recently protested outside GM's headquarters in Detroit.

When the new CEO for GM, Ed Whitacre, talked to the press in Chicago recently, he indicated that he didn't expect any new bids for Saab.

Despite this, GM has repeatedly postponed the final decision. By the end of last week, the time for making a last bid expired. Dutch sports car manufacturer Spyker Cars NV was still in the game and also left a third, updated bid.

In the final hours, other interested parties showed up as well. Genii Capital is an investment company based in Luxembourg that keeps a low profile. It is privately owned and bought into the Renault Formula One team in mid-December.

Jöran Hägglund, state secretary for the ministry of enterprise, energy and communications in Sweden, has confirmed to Swedish newspaper Dagens Industri that two Swedish groups also wanted to carry out a so-called management buyout, in which the current Saab management would take over. However, none of these groups "has any funding to show", secretary Hägglund told Swedish state radio, SR.

On Monday, Jan. 11, GM once again stated that Saab will be liquidated, but that they are still open to last minute solutions. Ed Whitacre told news agency TT that a bid of US$450 million is needed for GM to sell Saab.

Jöran Hägglund leads a Swedish delegation which has held several high-level meetings with GM. "Our perception is that the process of evaluating the bids continues. A better financial base is needed, but the process goes on", Hägglund said.

The staff at the Saab factory in Trollhättan in the southwest of Sweden came back to work on Jan. 11 after four weeks of halted production. One hundred cars were to be assembled that day.

Meanwhile, GM suggested Stephen Taylor of international business consultants AlixPartners will be responsible for the liquidation of Saab, which means he will effectively take charge of the company on Jan. 12 at 2 p.m.

On Jan. 17 the long-suffering citizens of Trollhättan may know if a bid was accepted by GM after all. Regardless of the outcome, a convoy of all old Saab models should be put together to mark the occasion, the Swedish Saab Club says on their homepage.

Barbara Gay