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Saab “Suspending” U.S. Warranties

Maker waiting for guidance from bankruptcy trustees.

by on Dec.20, 2011

Owners of Saab vehicles, including the 9-4X crossover, have been put on ice.

Saab owners had better keep their fingers crossed they don’t need warranty service or repairs – at least not for the time being.

In the wake of the parent company’s decision to file for bankruptcy in Sweden this week the maker’s U.S. subsidiary has said it will not honor warranty claims – at least not for the moment, pending advice on how to proceed from Saab’s Swedish bankruptcy trustees.

Meanwhile, a well-placed Saab corporate source, asking not to be identified, claimed that one of the reasons for the company’s ongoing financial problems was the fact that General Motors had so far failed to reimburse the company for warranty repairs on vehicles sold while Saab was still a GM subsidiary.

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For the moment, “All warranty coverage (no matter when the vehicle was produced or sold) is now being suspended until we have further direction from the (bankruptcy) trustees,” Saab USA spokesperson Michele Tinson told TheDetroitBureau.com.

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Muller Selling Spyker, Concentrating on Saab

Former Russian partner snaps up sports car maker for $21 mil.

by on Feb.24, 2011

Image By: Len Katz

Victor Muller will focus his attention exclusively on Saab, now.

Intending to focus his energies on his struggling Swedish car operations, Victor Muller is selling off his tiny Dutch sports car company, Spyker.

Muller, who purchased Saab Automobile just over a years ago, will be paid $21 million for Spyker, but could get about $25 million more over the next six years, depending on the success the brand has under its new owners.

The purchaser is Russian businessman Vladimir Antonov, who had previously been Spyker’s chairman and key investor, with a 29.9% stake.  Antonov was forced out of the company when Muller when Muller began discussing the acquisition of Saab from its former owner, General Motors, which refused to negotiate while the Russian oligarch was involved.

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Originally founded a century ago, Spyker collapsed in 1925, the name revived by Muller a decade ago.  It produces an assortment of sleek supercars priced around $200,000 apiece.  In 2009, the last year for which sales numbers are available, the company, based in Zeewolde, Netherlands, sold a total of 36 vehicles.

Spyker went public in 2004 and has consistently lost money since then.

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Saab Ready to Launch New 9-4X

New crossover critical to survival plans, maker acknowledges.

by on Feb.16, 2011

Saab's first-ever crossover, the 9-4X is finally heading to dealer showrooms.

The first Saab 9-4X crossover scheduled for retail sale has rolled off the assembly line at a General Motors plant in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico.

Saab Automobile chief executive officer and president Jan-Ake Jonsson was on hand to see regular production begin, just three months after the 9-4X was unveiled at the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show.

“This is a great day for Saab,” said Jonsson who survived the maker’s brief insolvency before Saab was sold to Dutch automaker Spyker, a year ago. “The arrival of the 9-4X is another important step in the fulfillment of our business plan. This sporty and distinctive product will significantly broaden the appeal of our brand.”

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The 9-4X gives the newly-independent company access, for the first time, to the growing, mid-size crossover segment. An earlier attempt to target the large SUV market with the 9-7X fell far short of expectations, in large part because there was little differentiation between the Saab model and similarly-sized GM offerings.

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Former Spyker Partner Cleared Of Corruption

Vladimir Antonov could now return to Saab-Spyker.

by on Dec.17, 2010

Former Spyker exec Vladimir Antonov is cleared of corruption charges and could now join Saab-Spyker.

Vladimir Antonov, Saab owner Victor Muller’s former business partner, has been cleared of the corruption charges that had forced him out of the bidding for the Swedish Automaker.

Swedish newspaper, Dagens Industri, has reported Antonov was cleared after a Swedish government investigation found no evidence of corruption involving the Russian businessman.

Antonov was a key backer of Muller and his Dutch-based sports car company, Spyker, and was planning to play a role in the purchase of Saab, which General Motors was going to sell or close after its 2009 bankruptcy.  But after questions arose about the Russian’s possible involvement with crime syndicates, Muller said General Motors forced him to abandon his established partnership with Antonov in order to complete his bid for Saab.

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A prerequisite for the deal was that Vladimir Antonov stepped down as Chairman and majority shareholder in Spyker due to allegations of illegal business and money laundering.

Based near Gothenberg, Saab was in the midst of shutting down when Muller – minus Antonov – was able to complete the acquisition, earlier this year.

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First Drive: 2010 Saab 9-5

Worth the wait…and more’s coming.

by on Jun.04, 2010

Due to a 7-week production delay, the first 2010 Saab 9-5 Aero sedans are just getting into U.S. dealer hands in any real numbers.

The Swedish are coming.  The Swedish are coming.  And it was well worth the wait.

As General Motors plunged into bankruptcy, almost exactly a year ago, it became increasingly apparent the maker would have to abandon as many as four of its North American brands, including Saab.  And though GM hoped to find a buyer for the long-troubled brand it seemed all too likely the Scandinavian maker might be forced to shutter its sprawling design, engineering and assembly operations in the Swedish town of Trollhattan.

It would have been not only an ignominious but ironic end to the marque, which emerged out of the aircraft industry shortly after the Second World War.  That’s because, after years of producing generally lackluster products, Saab finally seemed poised to launch an all-new version of the 9-5 sedan, a product that finally seemed to live up to the high expectations of long-suffering loyalists – and draw in a new generation of buyers, as well.

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But, late last year, even as GM began the process of shutting down Saab, the proverbial white knight rode in – in the form of Victor Muller, CEO of Dutch-based Spyker, a maker of low-volume, high-priced supercars.  After some desperate bargaining – and the helping hand of the European Investment Bank – Muller clinched the deal and took control of Saab.  But not before GM disbanded the maker’s board, shut its Trollhattan assembly line and told suppliers to cancel parts orders.

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Spyker Buys Saab, Considering New Products

Maker studying smaller 9-2; remains heavily dependent on GM.

by on Feb.23, 2010

Saab hopes to relaunch production of the 9-3 and new 9-5 in a few weeks, while launching the 9-4X crossover soon afterwards.

Dutch-based Spyker Cars has completed its once seemingly improbably bid to purchase the long-troubled Swedish automaker Saab Cars.

The deal, tenatively approved last month, saves Saab from the automotive rubbish heap.  Its long-time parent, General Motors, decided to abandon the brand prior to last year’s bankrupty reorganization, but after one proposed sale collapsed, GM began taking steps to close Saab until it a last-minute bid by Spyker, which until now has produced only a small number of high-priced sports cars.

Nonetheless, GM will retain strong ties to its former subsidiary, providing parts, powertrains and platforms for two critical models.  Longer-term, however, Saab may seek out other partners, said CEO Jan Ake Jonsson, as it moves to develop additional products, such as the next-generation 9-3 sedan.  Jonsson also revealed that the maker is considering an even smaller model that would be based on the entry-level Saab 9-2.

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A Saab Story with a Happy Ending?

“As of today, our focus will be on getting back in business,” said Jonsson, speaking to reporters from Sweden during a Tuesday conference call.  He noted that as GM prepared to liquidate the brand, Saab could no longer get the parts it needed to keep its assembly lines going, despite demand for the all-new 2010 9-5 sedan.

Saving Saab involved “three months of working literally day and night,” noted Victor Muller, the one-time Dutch lawyer who decided to get into the automotive business.  In 1999, he introduced the first of several models bearing the Spyker nameplate, reviving a once-heralded Netherlands brand that had gone out of business in 1925.

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Spyker Buys Saab

Deal saves Swedish brand just as GM began "wind-down."

by on Jan.26, 2010

It appears the new Saab 9-5 has been given a reprieve, as part of a sale to Spyker.

A last-minute reprieve has saved the long-struggling Saab, the Swedish brand parent General Motors was in the process of “winding down.”

The purchaser is the unlikely Dutch luxury sports car manufacturer, Spyker, which sees the acquisition as a way to expand its own global distribution base.

(This story is revised from the original as more details emerged.)

In return for $74 million in cash, and $326 million in preferred stock redeemable after 2013, GM will be free of Saab. (A senior GM officials hinted at a “third component” of the deal, but declined to provide details.)  Meanwhile, Spyker has received a $550 million loan from the European Investment Bank to fund the venture.

Swedish government officials gave their quick sign-off to the deal, which included the providing of guarantees for the EIB deal.  Assuming quick action on the few remaining issues, the transaction is expected to close in mid-February, about one year after Saab filed for bankruptcy.

“General Motors, Spyker Cars, and the Swedish government worked very hard and creatively for a deal that would secure a sustainable future for this unique and iconic brand, and we’re all happy for the positive outcome,” said John Smith, GM’s vice president for corporate planning and alliances.

Following the sale, the new parent plans to combine its existing operations with those of its new subsidiary to form Saab Spyker Automobiles.  (more…)

A Happy Turn for a Saab Story?

GM reportedly extending deadline for potential Saab buyer.

by on Dec.30, 2009

The fate of an all-new version of the Saab 9-5 sedan will depend on whether Spyker can raise the money to purchase the brand from GM.

The troubled Swedish automaker, Saab, has been given an 11th-hour reprieve, though it’s far from certain the brand has been saved.

Numerous reports out of Europe – supported by American sources – indicate that General Motors has agreed to extend its self-imposed December 30th deadline for shuttering Saab, one of four brands it said it would either sell or close after emerging from bankruptcy protection last July.

The initial funding plan for Spyker’s acquisition of Saab has fallen through, but the Netherlands-based company is reportedly seeking another line of financing; and GM is giving the carmaker time to pull that together.

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“The December deadline has been lifted and the final offer from Victor Muller [chief executive of Spyker] must be made by 7 January now,” a spokesman for GM of Europe told the British newspaper, The Guardian, which added that raising the necessary cash appears to be Spyker’s only obstacle, at this point. (more…)

GM Board Defers Saab Closing Until December

Says it will review new “expressions of interest.”

by on Dec.01, 2009

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Saab's future is still very much in doubt.

The Board of Directors at General Motors Company today decided to defer the closing Saab until it had time to review new potential buyers who have expressed interest after the sale of Saab to Koenigsegg Group AB collapsed last week because of an apparent lack of financing.

In a statement, which was eclipsed by the resignation of CEO Fritz Henderson, GM said, “The Board will evaluate potential bids between now and the end of December.  At that time, we will determine whether a suitable arrangement for Saab exists. If not, we will begin an orderly wind down of the global Saab business at that time.”

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Saab At The Last Minute

GM Board decides fate of the money losing Swedish Saab brand.

by on Dec.01, 2009

Last minute reprieve or execution?

Last minute reprieve or execution?

When the proposed sale of GM’s money losing Saab brand to Koenigsegg fell apart last week when the tiny company was unable to come up with the needed financing, GM insiders told TDB that unless an angel magically appeared, it was likely the GM Board would back up CEO Fritz Henderson’s oft stated position that no more money would be forthcoming to support the ailing brand.

General Motors had signed a memorandum of understanding last August to sell Saab Automobile AB to Koenigsegg, but without all of the needed financing in place. The Swedish government then refused to lend money to Koenigsegg.

At the time, Koenigsegg said it needed another $425 million to make the proposed business plan work. The business plan developed by Koenigsegg was never revealed, but it was critical for the deal to move forward.

Well, the decision on Saab’s fate has been made by the GM Board of Directors and it will be announced less than one hour from now.

Stay tuned…