Broke Spyker sues GM for $3-bn

2012-08-07 13:33

AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands - Dutch sports-car maker Spyker is suing General Motors for more than $3-billion (R24.6-billion) on behalf of its subsidiary Saab, accusing the US automaker of deliberately bankrupting the Swedish group by blocking a deal with a Chinese investor.

Saab Automobile, one of Sweden's best-known brands, stopped production in May 2011 when it could no longer pay suppliers and employees. It went bust in December 2011, less than two years after GM sold it to Spyker. GM's efforts to kill any sale were made to eliminate a potential rival in China, Spyker said.


Spyker said in its complaint, filed in the United States District Court of the Eastern District of Michigan: "GM never intended to allow Saab to compete with it in China.

"When Saab found a way to secure liquidity and continue as a going concern with the help of Chinese investors, GM was determined to scuttle the deal by any means necessary, including the publication of false information about its rights under the parties' contracts," Spyker added.

GM spokesman Dave Roman called the lawsuit "without merit." "We will vigorously defend the company against these baseless allegations," he said.

Spyker chief executive Victor Muller told Reuters GM "never thought we would survive.

"Well, Spyker's still here. They assumed Spyker would end up in the graveyard with Saab, and obviously that didn't happen.

"GM's actions had the direct and intended objective of driving Saab Automobile into bankruptcy, a result of GM's ... interfering with a transaction between Saab Automobile, Spyker and Chinese investor Youngman that would have permitted Saab Automobile to restructure and remain a solvent, going concern."


For months, Muller tried to pull off a rescue deal with various Russian, Middle Eastern and Chinese investors, including China's Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile (or Youngman) and Pang Da Automobile Trade Co Ltd.

In asking for a jury trial, Spyker is seeking at least $3 billion in compensatory damages, as well as interest and punitive damages, and legal fees. Muller told reporters the $3 billion claim was based on what Saab would have been worth if a deal with Youngman had gone ahead.

An executive at Youngman declined to comment when asked if the Chinese company was involved in the suit. The executive, who did not want to be identified, said: "We are not aware of the situation. I have nothing to say about it."

Pang Da has said it was not party to the lawsuit.

GM, which operates in China in a partnership with state-run automaker SAIC Motor Corp Ltd, late in 2011 effectively blocked deals with Youngman and another investor Pang Da.

GM said it would stop supplying vehicles and technology to Saab's new owners because it would run counter to the interests of its own shareholders. Saab filed for bankruptcy months later and stopped producing cars.

Following Saab's bankruptcy, Sweden's bankruptcy administrators said they had chosen a consortium called National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) AB to buy Saab for an undisclosed sum. Muller said that deal was between the receivers and NEVS.