General Motors last night announced that it has reached a 'binding agreement' to sell Swedish car-maker Saab to Dutch supercar maker Spyker.
The deal is expected to be concluded in mid-February. GM has immediately halted the winding-down process that it started before Christmas, while former boss Jan Ake Jonsson, who was stood down as part of that process, has been reinstated with immediate effect.
Spyker will pay £47 million for Saab in two stages, while GM, surprisingly, will retain a majority share in the company that will allow it to benefit from any future profits. In effect, the deal creates a joint venture between Saab and GM that will see the American company retaining over half the shares.
A new business, called Saab Spyker Automobiles NV, will be created as a result of Spyker's acquisition. The deal is also subject to approval of £349 million loan from the European Investment Bank, which will be under-written by the Swedish government, as well as various court approvals, but it's expected that it will go ahead.
Spyker CEO Victor Muller said: 'We are very much looking forward to being part of the next chapter in Saab's history. The next task is for Saab to become profitable in its own right, and that's not an easy task. But it is one that I think can be achieved. What we bring is entrepreneurship and a tremendous tenacity and desire to make Saab succeed. That's going to be a challenge but we're very confident that with Saab's management, which has shown incredible resilience, and the resources that we have at our disposal we'll make Saab into a tremendous success.'
The deal includes all the intellectual property vested in the Saab range, as well as the new 9-5 and the forthcoming 9-4X crossover, which will be built for Saab in Mexico, as previously planned. Saab's Trollhattan plant has recently been reorganised, and now builds the entire range in-house. The rest of the 9-5 production facility will be transferred from GM's Opel plant at Russelsheim, while the 9-3 Cabriolet facility was transferred out of Magna-Steyr's Austrian factory before Christmas.
Muller believes that Saab is a 'very ecological brand, very much of its time,' adding that the dramatic Saab Aero-X concept 'will pave the way for where Saab is heading'.