MUNICH -- Saab will be closed down, its parent General Motors Co. announced today after concluding that a sale of the Swedish brand to Dutch niche car maker Spyker Cars NV could not be completed quickly enough.
“We regret that we were not able to complete this transaction with Spyker Cars,” GM Europe President Nick Reilly said in a statement. “We will work closely with the Saab organization to wind down the business in an orderly and responsible manner.”
Talks with Spyker started after the withdrawal of potential Saab buyer Koenigsegg Group AB last month. However, GM said in its statement Friday that during its talks with Spyker "certain issues arose that both parties believe could not be resolved."
GM did not specify what problems were discovered.
Spyker has been struggling financially. The company, which built 21 cars in the first half, lost 8.7 million euros in the first six months and its sales fell by 1.6 million euros to 4.1 billion euros compared with the year before.
On Monday, Saab announced it had sold Beijing Automotive Industry Holdings Co. all rights to the current 9-5 as well as some technologies from the current 9-3 for an undisclosed amount. BAIC paid $197 million for the assets, according to a Swedish business newspaper.
GM said its decision to close Saab should have no effect on the deal with BAIC.
After the Saab-BAIC deal was announced on Monday, a Saab spokeswoman said that the company believed that the money from the Chinese would serve as a great foundation for a new owner to build upon. She added that the company was confident a new owner would be found.
A European analyst contacted Monday by Automotive News Europe had a different view. "This could lead to a slow and painful shutdown," said the analyst, who asked to remain anonymous because he does business with both GM and Saab.
GM Chairman and interim CEO Ed Whitacre said Tuesday that Spyker was the only bidder for Saab, which celebrated its 60th birthday on Dec. 16.
Now the spirit of the Swedish brand will be transferred to China, where BAIC said Friday that it plans to start production of its Saab-based own brand of cars as soon as 2011.
In his statement on Friday, GM Europe boss Reilly added that Saab's closure is neither a bankruptcy nor a forced liquidation process.
“Consequently, we expect Saab to satisfy debts including supplier payments and to wind down production and the distribution channel in an orderly manner while looking after our customers,” Reilly said.
The statement also said that Saab would continue to honor warranties, while providing service and spare parts to current Saab owners around the world.
Saab's closure is part of GM's massive restructuring following its short-lived U.S. bankruptcy in the summer.
GM is trying to complete a deal to sell SUV brand Hummer and will close U.S.-only brand Saturn. The automaking giant will focus on four core brands – Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC – and several regional brands, including Opel/Vauxhall in Europe.