GM: No deal yet to sell Saab, but still talking
DETROIT—Dutch luxury car maker Spyker Cars NV is still in talks with General Motors Co. to buy its ailing Saab brand, but no deal has been reached, GM Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre Jr. said Monday.
Whitacre said GM is in "advanced talks" with Spyker but continues to wind down Saab's operations.
"We do not have a deal to announce this morning," he said at a news conference to announce he is becoming CEO after seven weeks at GM's interim CEO.
GM spokesman Chris Preuss in Detroit would not say if the company is close to a deal with Spyker.
GM and Spyker negotiated through the weekend trying to work out a deal to save Saab, which GM has decided to jettison as part of its restructuring plan to focus on four core brands, Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC.
Swedish media reported that a deal was close, but Preuss said nothing had been finalized as of Monday afternoon in Sweden.
Meanwhile, shares in Spyker surged again Monday on reports that a deal was imminent. Spyker shares rose 29 percent to 2.77 euros on news media reports saying that a deal was close.
Spyker spokesman Mike Stainton said Monday the reports were "speculation." He said the negotiations are continuing.
On Jan. 6, Whitacre said of Saab: "It's real easy. Just show up with the money and you can have it."
GM has begun shutting Saab down, though its 3,400 employees have not yet been laid off.
A deal for Spyker to buy Saab by itself is unlikely: Spyker sold 23 cars in the first half of 2009, its most recent reporting period, and it posted a net loss of 8.7 million euros. The 6-year-old company has yet to make a profit, but it says funding for its operations have been guaranteed through 2010.
Money for a deal to buy Saab could come from Spyker's largest shareholder, Russia's Conversbank Financial Group, or other shareholders. It would also likely involve a large loan from the European Investment Bank, backed by the government of Sweden.
Stainton said the financial structuring of a deal would only be made public at the time it was announced. He couldn't say whether that was likely to happen this week.
Spyker's shares have been rising since its Chairman Victor Muller first began a public campaign wooing GM in early December.
Saab Automobile sold around 90,000 cars in 2008, a 30 percent decline from 2007. With another sharp sales decline expected, it filed for protection from creditors while it reorganized in February 2009. GM said at the time it expected to sell Saab and take $1 billion in losses.
GM filed for bankruptcy itself in June and its attempts to sell Saab by a Dec. 31 deadline failed.
AP Auto Writer Dee-Ann Durbin in Detroit contributed to this report.