Spyker Makes a Last-Ditch Effort to Buy Saab
By George Straton
Saab: Going, Going …. Still here?
That first motto is Latin for “For the tenacious, no road is impassable,” and is used by Spyker Cars. The second is just a suggestion for what Saab’s motto might be.
Perhaps both are fitting, as some 48 hours after GM European President Nick Reilly announced failure of the General and Spyker Cars N.V. to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement for sale of its Saab Division, there comes a last ditch offer from Spyker on a Sunday. Spyker’s CEO, Victor Muller, announced that points of impasse which developed during the due diligence phase of the previous contract negotiations have been addresed in his mind. Notably, the condition for approval of a $500 million short term loan from the European Union’s Equity Investment Bank prior to December 31, 2009 has been lifted. GM has until Monday’s end of business to accept.
Does this mean that the Abu Dhabi government’s holding arm, Mubabdala Development Company, which already holds a 17% stake in Spyker, is providing the capital?
Two days ago, all fingers pointed blame for the collapse of a deal in the direction of GM. Yet the latest offer from Spyker seems to lay responsibility for collapse of the previous negotiations at the feet of Spyker and its financial wherewithal. After all, it would be less costly for GM to wind down Saab than to spend a small fortune to enter into an unsustainable formal contract when in the end, no closing of the deal could materialize.
After all, Spyker did see its stock values plummet by 50% less than one year after the company’s IPO in 2004. While Spyker’s stock price made a brief “Spike” subsequently, it again dropped by more than 30% by 2007 due to “financing issues.”
In November, the BBC reported that Spyker announced plans to move its final assembly of some 50 C8 supercars per year from the Netherlands to Coventry, England, former host to Jaguar assembly for reasons of proximity to component suppliers.
Obviously, Spyker does not need Trollhattan’s 100,000 units per year annual capacity to build Spyker C8 supercars. But that does not rule out subbing out final assembly at Trollhattan for other manufacturers just as Valmet has done in neighboring Finland (for Saab and Porsche). In the end, the price for Saab may seem better than buying assets piecemeal in “wind down.”
If there is in fact a bit of irony to Spyker’s efforts it lies within the name of its own mark.
The Spyker (later Anglicized from Spijker) moniker appeared as a carriage builder in the 1880s and then as a “horseless carriage” builder in 1899. The company built the “Golden Carraige” that Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands to this date still uses in royal ceremonies. The old Spyker went bust in 1926. And the name lay fallow for nearly a century.
If such a sale materializes, and that is a Big IF, does that signify that Saab’s motto will change from “född från jets” (“Born of Jets”) to “Emo per Lentus” (Purchased by the tenacious)? Time will tell.
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