MUNICH – General Motors Co. said it will sell Saab to Dutch niche luxury sports brand Spyker Cars NV, saving the iconic Swedish brand from a shutdown.
GM and Spyker appeared to have resolved issues over financing that had led to months of tough negotiations. Spyker first made a bid for Saab in November when previous suitor Koenigsegg Group AB pulled out of talks to buy GM's money-losing Swedish brand.
Spyker, which only produces about 40 hand-made supercars every year, hopes to benefit from Saab's technical resources and distribution network, while Saab, with annual production of more than 90,000 cars, would get an injection of entrepreneurial spirit.
GM and Spyker said they have reached a binding agreement on the purchase of Saab.
GM said the deal is expected to close in mid-February and previously announced wind-down activities at Saab will be immediately suspended, pending the close of the transaction.
"Today's announcement is great news for Saab employees, dealers and suppliers, great news for millions of Saab customers and fans worldwide, and great news for GM," John Smith, GM vice president for corporate planning and alliances, said in a statement.
As part of the agreement, Spyker intends to form a new company, Saab Spyker Automobiles.
GM said the sale will be subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of applicable regulatory, governmental and court approvals.
The U.S. carmaker said other terms and conditions specific to the sale will be disclosed in due time.
Spyker, whose market value is less than $85 million, will pay GM $74 million in cash in addition to $326 million worth of preferred shares in the merged company.
The Swedish government has also agreed to guarantee a European Investment Bank loan valued at about $550 million
GM Europe President Nick Reilly said in a statement: "We've worked with many parties over the past year, including governments and investors and I'm very pleased that we could come to such a good conclusion, one that preserves jobs in Sweden and elsewhere. GM will continue to support Saab and Spyker on their way forward."
Saab has lost money for GM over the past decade. The brand lost about $340 million in 2008 and had projected a similar loss this year.
Spyker lost 8.7 million euros in the first six months of 2009 and its sales fell by 1.6 million euros to 4.1 million euros compared with the year before.
GM's decision 12 months ago to close down the 60-year-old brand if it did not find a suitable buyer had put at risk 3,400 jobs in Sweden and 1,100 Saab dealers worldwide.