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GM talks possible Saab sale

2009-01-12 08:10

Detroit - General Motors Corporation has been in talks to sell its struggling Swedish brand Saab after the U.S. carmaker was approached two or three months ago by an investor looking to take it off the company's hands, GM Europe chief Carl-Peter Forster said on Sunday.

Forster told reporters on the sidelines of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit that GM was not looking for buyers and would not expect any possible sale to happen any time soon anyway, but said the Ford Motor Co disposal of Jaguar and Land Rover to Tata Motors could serve as a model for a divestiture.

"We have one party that sort of volunteered, that came up and said 'we are interested' and we said 'fine let's talk about it' but we don't know exactly what to do, how much, what are the conditions ... we would have to carve out a business that is partially salable first," Forster said.

"We've put it a little bit on the backburner now. Because unless you have a good funding plan it's a bit difficult and we don't have a package we don't know exactly what to sell if we sell anything. And we don't have an offer to make yet."

He dismissed any speculation that a sale could come before the end of March, when GM has to present a restructuring plan that shows the company has a viable business model.

"You can't expect to sell a business like this in two months ... it takes a year," Forster said.

When asked whether one could carve out a brand like Saab that is integrated closely into GM's global development and manufacturing operations as easily as Ford did with Jaguar and Land Rover, Forster agreed this could be an option.

"That would be exactly what we would need to achieve, exactly, 100%. Same logic. They have 57 service agreements, whether we need 57, perhaps we need only 45 or 35, I don't know. But we would need certainly a lot of supply and service agreements as was negotiated between Tata and Ford."

Saab sales in the United States were down 34.7% in 2008 from the prior year.


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