Spyker Cars said today it is negotiating to sell its sports car business to a company controlled by Russian billionaire Vladimir Antonov.
Spyker, which bought Saab from General Motors Co. a year ago, said it has signed a memorandum of understanding to sell Spyker's assets to UK holding company CPP Global Holdings, which is owned by Antonov.
The sale could raise 32 million euros ($44 million) and with other planned debt repayments will cut Spyker's borrowings to 25 million euros, from 92 million euros now, Spyker CEO and Saab Chairman Victor Muller said. That excludes debt owed by Saab itself.
Under the deal, Antonov's CPP Global Holdings would purchase virtually all assets related to Spyker's business, including the Spyker trademarks and other intellectual property rights.
"Spyker's (luxury car business) is a small fish in a large pond. Spyker would need additional funds, but to issue shares and dilute shareholders seemed like a very bad plan so we decided to divest these activities," Muller told reporters in a conference call.
Muller, a classic car collector who made his fortune in the fashion industry, has often called Spyker's luxury sportscar business "my baby." The handmade sportscar has appeared in Hollywood films including The Pink Panther and Basic Instinct 2 -- with Sharon Stone at the wheel.
But on Thursday, he said the decision to sell would allow the luxury car operations to "spread its wings without being restricted by the capital structure" of the listed parent.
The listed parent will be renamed in May, Muller said, and would probably include Saab in its new name, with a listing in Stockholm still on the cards.
Muller and Antonov have had close and complex financial dealings in the past -- it was the Russian businessman who helped fund Spyker's acquisition of Saab, among other deals, Muller said. Muller said he did not have any shares in Antonov's company CPP.