Saab Gets a Second Look from Bidders
Beijing Auto seems particularly interested, but issues loom
By Brendan Moore
Everyone is writing Saab’s obituary, but news of its death may be premature.
People familiar with the situation on the ground in Sweden and Detroit say that Beijing Auto, Merbanco Inc. and Renco Group Inc. all have been making inquiries about putting in a bid for Saab since the news that Koenigsegg Group AB was deep-sixing the deal.
Beijing Auto (Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Company) is making public statements that show considerable interest in Saab, with Beijing Auto president Wang Dazong telling reporters in China to “stay tuned” when he was asked whether the company would be bidding for Saab, and then commenting that Beijing Auto was prepared to “move fast” on Saab’s acquisition.
Beijing Auto was going to be Koenigsegg’s partner in the previous, and now failed, Saab acquisition scheme, and was also the Chinese auto company that previously desired to buy Opel, but was not among the finalists when GM made up the short list of preferred bidders for Opel. The deal, by the way, that GM then reneged on just a short time ago.
If GM cannot find a bidder for Saab soon, they will in all likelihood shut the Swedish automaker down. That much is known.
What is not known is what GM will do when Beijing Auto demands the rights to Saab’s intellectual property rights to technology and car designs as part of the purchase of the Swedish company, as they are expected to do. They wanted the same thing as part of their bid for Opel, and were rebuffed.
Geely, another large Chinese auto company, just agreed to purchase Volvo from Ford with the stipulation that Volvo would retain all of their technology rights.
GM may not have to cross that bridge if other bidders for Saab beside Beijing Auto step forward, but if that scenario does not occur, GM will have a very difficult decision to make regarding Saab and Beijing Auto.
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