Spyker Buys Saab

Tortured sale process finally over for Saab, Spyker and GM

By Brendan Moore


Saab emblem blue backgroundSpyker Cars NV, the tiny Dutch supercar manufacturer, and the last potential buyer for Saab, has finally struck a deal with General Motors to buy Saab.

Rumors of a sale were rife Sunday night, with many different sources stating that the deal would be announced yesterday, but that didn’t happen. Later in the day yesterday, Ed Whitacre, new CEO of GM, said at a GM press conference that, “GM does not have a deal” and “has not changed direction” on shutting down its Swedish unit. 

He said yesterday that GM was still moving forward with the orderly shutdown of Saab. This, despite the fact that sources in Sweden were still reporting that a deal was imminent.

It is thought that the deal is structured as reported yesterday, but with a lower transaction amount, with Spyker paying GM a total of almost $400 million USD. The purchase price roughly breaks out as follows: $326 million in preferred shares in the next corporate iteration of Saab and $74 million in cash.

The European Investment Bank will provide a 400 million euro loan ($566 million), intended to secure the purchase and provide some operating capital, guaranteed by the Swedish government.

Part of the deal financing package is a $50 million loan from Tenaci Capital B.V. to Spyker in order to provide a piece of the cash component of the agreement. Tenaci Capital is owned by Muller. Additionally, as GM stipulated, Spyker’s current chairman, the Russian banker Vladimir Antonov, has agreed to effectively cash out of his shares by selling those to Tenaci, on his way out the door.

The deal marks the end of a long, forced march for Spyker, who has now been trying to meet GM’s conditions for a bid for sometime now, and has been rebuffed over and over. It also puts them squarely on the map as “somebody” in the world of mainstream automotive manufacturing.

Spyker was Saab’s last chance for a rescuer, as unlikely as they may be as a rescuer, given that they have around 110 employees, and Saab has approximately 3400 – a vast difference in size. It’s a bit like the minnow swallowing the whale.

Spyker had only one other serious rival for Saab at the end; an investment firm named Genii Capital, whose bid for Saab was spearheaded by Bernie Ecclestone, the head of Formula One. As late as Sunday night, Genii was making public statements about being “ready to pounce” if Spyker’s bid failed, but then abrubtly withdrew from the bidding process yesterday, saying, “Genii Capital believes that the timing of the next stage of the shutdown process at Saab is not compatible with its requirements for putting in place a solid business platform for the future and closing the transaction.”

The prospects for turning Saab around are daunting, but Muller believes that Saab can be “very profitable” if Saab sticks to its core values as an automaker. Still, Saab is a small company in the world of very large auto manufacturers, and in a market where bigger brands than Saab have already left the scene recently, and, consolidation is still occurring, Saab is going to have a tough road ahead of it.

Spyker’s ownership of Saab is merely the beginning of the beginning of the next stage of struggle for Saab to be viable and profitable.

Spyker intends to change the name of Saab to Saab Spyker Automobiles upon ownership.

COPYRIGHT Autosavant – All Rights Reserved

Author: Brendan Moore

Brendan Moore is a Principal Consultant with Cedar Point Consulting , a management consulting practice based in the Washington, DC area. He also manages Autosavant Consulting, a separate practice within Cedar Point Consulting. where he advises businesses connected to the auto industry. Cedar Point Consulting can be found at http://www.cedarpointconsulting.com.

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  1. Great news for Saab and its fans. This whole sale has been nothing short of a fiasco, but at least they seemingly pulled it off in the end.

    Now, can Spyker pull off the financing? And let’s get those new 9-5s on dealer lots ASAP.

  2. I agree, it isn’t going to be easy to turn Saab around, but at least now they live to fight another day, right?

    Saab lives, and that is what is important here.

  3. I’m happy that GM and Spyker have reached this agreement. As are the thousands of enthusiasts around the world who rallied for Saab’s survival in the past several weeks. I’ll be looking forward to bringing home a new 9-5 wagon sometime in 2011.

    Big Ed’s comments yesterday, in my mind, tend to underscore my low opinion of him. Trollhattan can begin to say goodbye to GM, and good riddance.

  4. Can Saab sell enough cars to stay alive by being “quirky” and using good Swedish engineering? Guess we’ll find out shortly! I have my doubts though. I like Saabs and I want Saab to succeed, but I have my doubts.

  5. I wish them luck, they’re going to need it.

  6. GM finally did the right thing, and they deserve some credit, too. It would have been easier for them to just shutter the company and not have to go through all this and through all the negative press.

    The money they get is nothing, I repeat, nothing substantial to them. I’m glad they stuck it out and made it possible for Saab to continue.

  7. This is still a car company with slumping sales, and only two models, one of which is well past current.

    Hold the applause until we can see just what the plan is for Saab.

    I hope they succeed like everyone else, but, man, it is going to be tres difficult.

  8. You can be assured that Saab will be out of the US for quite some time regardless of the outcome of this sale.

  9. Here is what our neighbors to the north get when they type http://www.saabcanada.com into the web address bar:

    “Welcome to Saab.ca…

    While SAAB vehicles will no longer be sold through the GM of Canada dealer network, rest assured that we will continue to support SAAB vehicles’ full-service warranties and offer only the highest quality in customer service for your SAAB through our extensive network of Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac dealers.

    If you’re looking for a new vehicle, we’re confident that you will find exactly what you want within our Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac brands. Please take the time to explore all that General Motors has to offer at gm.ca.”

  10. Saab has more lives than any cat. There were a great many peaks and valleys in this saga, and it’s sort of miraculous that Saab came out on the other end intact.

    Hope the new owners take care of this nearly-drowned foundling.

  11. They did actually start production of the new 9-4X in Mexico, I think, so that’s three models once they start making the new 9-5.

    I’m not completely sure about that, but I think some 9-4X models were made.

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