GM misses bid deadline, Saab to resume production

Written by Reuters | Amsterdam | Updated: Jan 1 2010, 04:17am hrs
General Motors has dropped a December 31 deadline for bids for its Swedish car brand Saab, which will restart some production lines in January after a shutdown, Saab said on Wednesday.

GM had given itself to the end of this month to consider bids for loss-making Saab while continuing a process to wind down the company, which has drawn interest from Dutch luxury carmaker Spyker Cars and others.

We are preparing the wind-down process. At the same time we are open to options, to bids that come in. Therefore, the deadline has also been dropped, Saab spokesman Eric Geers said.

A spokesman for GM in Europe said he had no information on the deadline being cancelled and could not immediately comment. The Swedish government has said it would allot 542 million Swedish krona ($75 million) to measures, mainly for education and job schemes, to help deal with the thousands of jobs set to disappear if Saab shuts down.

Abandoning the 60-year-old Swedish auto brand would eliminate 3,400 jobs in Sweden and hit 1,100 Saab dealers.

In the meantime, Saab will restart some production lines again in January for its new 9-5 model and Cabrio, Geers said.

We have the orders and we have to deliver them as usual. We also have the orders for the 9-3 and others. The factory has to continue again, Geers said.

GM was still in talks with potential bidders but Geers only named Spyker Cars and declined to talk about other parties. Spyker was not immediately available to comment.

Spyker, backed by Russian and Arabic investors, lodged a renewed fast-track offer to buy Saab on December 20.

The surprise new offer from Spykerwhich made 43 luxury cars last year against Saabs sales of 93,295came just two days after talks with GM over a rescue of the loss-making Swedish manufacturer collapsed.

Spyker Cars CEO Victor Muller has said if a deal is achieved, Saab and Spyker Cars would operate as sister companies where Spyker could benefit from Saabs technical resources and its distribution network, while Spyker would bring entrepreneurial skills to Saab.