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Formula One’s Ecclestone Bidding for Saab

GM meanwhile selects Alix Partners to begin Saab "wind down."

by on Jan.08, 2010

He turned Formula One into a billion-dollar profit-maker. Can Ecclestone do the same with Saab?

He’s best known for turning the Formula One racing series into a massive money-maker, but now Britain’s Bernie Ecclestone wants to get into the car-making business.  With his partner, Genii Capital, the 79-year-old British entrepreneur is making a last-minute bid to purchase Saab, the Swedish automaker that General Motors is in the process of shutting down.

Ecclestone’s entry into the bidding comes as GM announces it has chosen Michigan-based AlixPartners, “to supervise the orderly wind down of Saab,” the company said in a statement Friday morning.  “GM also confirmed it has received several proposals for Saab and is continuing to evaluate these proposals.”

A bid from the Scandinavian sports car maker Konigsegg collapsed, several months ago, and GM Chairman Ed Whitacre said, earlier this week that he didn’t expect an alternative offer from the Dutch-based specialty automaker, Spyker, to be completed.  As a result, Whitacre said GM was “winding down” operations at the 72-year-old Saab, though he indicated, in a meeting with reporters, that Saab could survive if someone would “Just show up with the money.”

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That’s one thing Ecclestone has plenty of.  He’s transformed F1 from a money-losing series into the world’s premier racing program.  And that translates into multi-billion-dollar empire.  The Fortune 2009 list places the value of holdings by Ecclestone and his family at $3.7 billion.

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