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Spyker Averts Asset Auction – Still Faces Financial Trouble

But Dutch sports carmaker still has plenty of challenges ahead.

by on Jul.07, 2014

The Spyker B6 Venator concept still hasn't made the jump to production.

It’s been a tough few years for the Dutch sports carmaker Spyker, but the company and CEO Victor Muller may have gotten a much-needed reprieve.

For those who might not recall the name, Spyker was the little upstart that took a big gamble by purchasing Saab, the Swedish car brand parent General Motors was planning to shut down after its own 2009 bankruptcy. But that venture didn’t fare very well, Saab lasting less than two years under the new arrangement before going belly up.

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Muller and crew decided to re-focus their efforts on their exotic sports car business, showing off several concept vehicles intended to bring the company a place at the table alongside such competitors as Ferrari and Aston Martin. But financial problems have continued to plague Spyker and it looked like the company was going to have to auction off a significant chunk of its assets to satisfy Dutch tax authorities.

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Spyker Prepping Launch of New B6 Venator

Still searching for production site.

by on Aug.22, 2013

Spyker CEO Victor Muller introduced the company's new convertible at Pebble Beach this year.

Dutch supercar maker Spyker is “moving forward” with plans to launch the new B6 Venator and the Spyder convertible version it unveiled at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance last weekend. But the upcoming introduction could run into one small hitch: Spyker has yet to decide where it will build the new model.

The Dutch company, which barely survived a disastrous attempt to resurrect Sweden’s Saab, is counting on the Venator to put it back on the map as a small but viable manufacturer of extreme machines. The Venator is expected to become the relatively high-volume model in the Spyker line-up, though it will continue producing the more expensive Aileron, as well.

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But while development “has moved along very rapidly,” according to Spyker Chairman and CEO Victor Muller,” there are still a few snags.  Most significantly, the little carmaker has to decide where to build the car. Contrary to numerous media reports, Muller said Spyker has not chosen the Finnish-based Valmet, a specially manufacturer perhaps best known for producing versions of the Porsche Boxster. (more…)

Three Former Saab Executives Face Fraud Charges

Ex-CEO among those under investigation.

by on May.21, 2013

Former Saab CEO Jan Ake Jonsson.

Three former Saab Automobile AB executives, including one-time CEO Jan Ake Jonsson, have been detained by Swedish authorities and could face charges involving tax and accounting fraud.

The unexpected development comes nearly 18 months after the long-struggling automaker filed for bankruptcy, most of its assets eventually sold to a Japanese-Chinese consortium. A $3 billion lawsuit filed by the Dutch company that purchased Saab from General Motors, meanwhile, has yet to be resolved.

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Ex-CEO Jonsson is one of three former executives who could face up to four years in prison based on the allegations raised in Vanersborg District Court which covers Saab’s former headquarters in Trollhattan, Sweden.

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Spyker Has Big Comeback Plans for B6 Venator

China, rather than US, could be its biggest market.

by on Mar.08, 2013

The Spyker B6 Venator concept.

One thing you can say about Victor Muller: he doesn’t give up easily.  “I am persistent,” says the Dutch entrepreneur as he catches his breath between interviews and meetings at the Geneva Motor Show.

Many thought Muller might call it quits on the auto industry after his effort to save the Swedish carmaker Saab collapsed in the waning days of 2011. At the time, it looked like he would also be forced to sell the tiny sports car company he had launched a decade earlier.

But while Saab collapsed – an issue that Muller continues to deal with in a $3 billion lawsuit he has filed against the maker’s former owner, General Motors – he wound up keeping Spyker and now hopes to bring it back to life with the introduction of the new B6 Venator. A concept version is on display at Geneva’s PALExpo convention center and generating a fair amount of interest.

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The B6 is a compact, mid-engine sports car that picks up on some of the aerospace-influenced design cues of earlier, often outlandish Spyker models, such as the Aileron.  That includes not just its propeller logo but an aircraft-like canopy that sweeps rearward to reduce drag, LED taillights that are designed to look like the afterburners of a fighter jet, and turbofan-style wheels. The aero theme carries over into the interior, where there’s an airplane-style ignition switch, a turned aluminum dash and jet-like gauges.

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Spyker to Signal Revival with B6 Concept Car

Dutch maker planning “resurgence” in wake of Saab disaster.

by on Feb.20, 2013

The Spyker B6 Concept will debut in Geneva.

In an industry where there’s always plenty of drama and intrigue, the saga of few companies have more resembled a soap opera than that of little Dutch automaker Spyker – whose Jonah-swallowing-the-whale acquisition of Saab nearly destroyed both companies.

While the remains of the Swedish maker have been sold off to a Japanese-Chinese consortium, Spyker CEO Victor Muller is planning what is being billed as a “global resurgence!” when the Dutch firm introduces the new B6 concept car at the Geneva Motor Show on March 5th.

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“We’ll have some big news,” CEO Muller hinted during a recent conversation with TheDetroitBureau.com, “but you’ll just have to wait to find out more.”

So, what’s Spyker got planned? Well, were it not for the fact that Saab used the name, “Phoenix,” for its own concept car a few years back, that might have been a perfect badge for what Muller and company have in mind.

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Saab Shutdown Drags On, Threaten Brand’s Survival

Suppliers claim Swedish maker owes millions.

by on Apr.08, 2011

The Saab 9-5 Aero at the maker's plant in Trollhattan, which has been idled by suppliers demanding payment.

The shutdown of Saab’s main assembly plant, at its Trollhattan, Sweden headquarters, could drag on for some time as the maker struggles to raise additional cash to help cover what parts suppliers claim are millions of dollars in unpaid bills.

The maker’s parent, Dutch-based Spyker Cars, nonetheless insists that Saab is not nearing a collapse.  The maker only emerged for near-insolvency a year ago, after Spyker purchased the failing brand and its assets from General Motors.

A spokesperson for the automaker, based several hours from capital city Stockholm, said Saab officials are “working hard” to find a solution, but also warned “could” stretch on for several days.

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Following the Geneva Motor Show, in March, Saab Chairman Victor Muller stated the company still has about $200 million of the money left from a 2010 European Investment Bank loan.  But he also said Spyker would be seeking to raise additional capital as quickly as possible.

Saab was hit with a brief production halt last week when suppliers temporarily halted deliveries.  Saab appeared to have addressed that problem, but the confrontation resumed this week, and the latest production halt is now in its fourth day.

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BMW “Art” Car Will be on the Le Mans Grid

Can BMW compete in the world’s oldest endurance race?

by on Jun.09, 2010

There's a tradition of decorated cars in Sarthe. Porsche at times takes a humorous approach.

This Saturday at 3 PM, the 24 Hours of Le Mans begins. It’s a grueling endurance race that has been dominated over the years by Porsche, which has more than 50 class wins and, arguably, Ferrari, a perennial crowd pleaser.

Well,yes, Ferrari, an enduring favorite except for some magic moments back in the 1960s when Ford “kicked Ferrari’s ass,” according to Carroll Shelby, a failed Texas chicken rancher but a winning racer, who was running the GT40 team when it happened.

After several years of Ford dominance – “we spent a ton of the Deuce’s [Henry Ford II] money,” said Shelby – the French changed the rules. Ah, the politics of racing, and the pragmatic – or is it cynical – French?

Once upon a time, Ford Motor dominated racing at Le Mans. Len Katz photograph.

On the grid this year will be two of Jeff Koons’ BMW Art Cars. Andy Priaulx (GB), Dirk Müller (DE) and Dirk Werner (DE) will race the BMW Art Car #79. Jörg Müller (DE), Augusto Farfus (BR), Uwe Alzen (DE) will drive the BMW Le Mans car #78.

There is a tradition of decorated cars at Le Mans. My personal favorite was – and still is – a pink Porsche (aka pink pig), which was diagrammed with dotted lines to reflect the cuts of pork a butcher would derive from the shape. Who says Germans don’t have a sense of humor?

What’s not funny is that BMW is in the hyper-competitive GT2 class, which sees eighteen cars piloted by the very best drivers backed by mega-buck teams.  Aston Martin, BMW, Corvette, Ferrari, Jaguar, Peugeot, Porsche and Spyker are expected to make the field. However, at Le Mans that’s the easy part – lasting through the night and well into the next day is the real challenge.

Here's my idea of an art car. Who says the Germans don't have a sense of humor?

The “Grand Touring” or the GT class has cars derived from models homologated from road use and can be purchased. A minimum of 100 road cars must be built by the major car manufacturers and a minimum of 25 for the smaller makes.

Since they have at least a passing relationship to real cars, I like the GT classes more than the one-off prototype classes, except for the Ford-Ferrari duel of yore. The two prototype classes will go away next year.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the world’s oldest endurance race in sports car racing, of course. It has been held annually since 1923 near the town of Le Mans, Sarthe, France. Known as the Grand Prix of Endurance, and organized by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), the race runs on a circuit containing closed public roads.

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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…)

Spyker ShareTrading Halted on Saab Speculation

Negotiations with GM continue after previous failed offer.

by on Jan.26, 2010

It's not over?

Trading in shares of Spyker stock was stopped in Amsterdam, Netherlands, this afternoon as speculators continued to bid up the price of the tiny sports car maker for the ultra rich. Yesterday, Spyker shares increased by more than 75% on rumors that it was close to buying Saab from General Motors.

Several thousand jobs are dependent on the outcome, including 3400 Saab employees, not counting 1100 dealers, numerous suppliers and their employees.

Saab’s annual global sales of fewer than 90,000 vehicles make it an unlikely survivor in the Global car wars. Previously General Motors Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre has expressed cynicism about what he characterized as a “show me the money” stance toward potential Saab suitors.

Saab itself filed for reorganization under Swedish Law on 20 February 2009, after GM said no more funding would be provided for the loss-making operation. As part of the plan, Saab said its design, engineering and manufacturing would be consolidated in Sweden.

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