General Motors is preparing to turn its Saab subsidiary into a separate business, a move that will make the struggling brand more attractive to potential buyers.
Saab has been negotiating with GM and the Swedish government about becoming a more independent company, initially as part of GM, a GM source said.
That means the Swedish carmaker would take control of its decision-making and finances, sources said.
GM has failed to find a buyer for Saab. Trying to sell the brand is part of GMs strategic review of the carmaker, which started in December.
Saab spokesman Eric Geers declined to comment on the review but did say Saab has had positive and constructive discussions with GM and the Swedish government about the future structure of the business.
Stefan Lofven, president of IF Metall union in Sweden, believes separating Saab from GM could work.
You have to make sure there is a company that GM can sell, he said. That means a company that is a separate entity where people can look at the balance sheets and you know what you are buying.
GM executives will decide the future of Saab before February 17, which is when they submit their business plan to the US government.
GM has received $9.4 billion in emergency loans from the US government to keep its business alive.
Paul Akerlund, head of Saabs union, said: Under this [plan], the Saab board will be more like a normal board, and less dependent on what happens on GMs European strategy board. They will make their own decisions.
GM will still be the owner, but Saab will have its own budget, Akerlund said.
Negotiations include how much money GM could give Saab to set up on its own.
Saab likely will move all of its operations back to Sweden, including research and development and design work, which is now done in Rüsselsheim, Germany.
The next generation Saab 9-5 medium-premium car also would stay at Saabs plant in Trollhättan, Sweden, and not move to sister brand Opels factory in Rüsselsheim.
Senior GM bosses are losing patience with Saab, which the company bought outright in 2000. At the Detroit auto show last week, GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said: Frankly, theyve been on GM life support.