| Sept 28
Sept 28 General Motors Co on Friday
dismissed claims made in a $3 billion lawsuit filed by Saab's
parent that the U.S. automaker deliberately bankrupted the
Swedish company by blocking a deal with a Chinese investor.
GM, in a response filed in the U.S. District Court for the
Eastern District of Michigan, said the automaker had the legal
right to approve Saab's transaction with China's Zhejiang
Youngman Lotus Automobile Co.
"The nub of plaintiffs' complaint is that GM declined to
approve the transaction plaintiffs proposed to enter into with
Youngman," GM said in the filings. "But the relevant contracts
did not permit Saab to consummate the proposed transaction
without GM's approval."
GM had previously said the lawsuit -- filed last month by
Saab parent Spyker -- was without merit.
Saab, 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, less than two years after GM sold it
to Dutch sportscar maker Spyker.
GM's efforts to kill any sale were made to eliminate a
potential rival in China, Spyker had said in the lawsuit.
Spyker Chief Executive Victor Muller said at the time that
GM "had it coming" with regard to the lawsuit. Spyker is seeking
at least $3 billion in compensatory damages, as well as interest
and punitive damages, and legal fees.
For months, Muller tried to pull off a rescue deal with
various Russian, Middle Eastern and Chinese investors, Youngman
and Pang Da Automobile Trade Co Ltd.
The lawsuit is being funded by an anonymous third party, who
will share in any settlement, Muller has said.
Youngman previously declined to comment about whether it was
involved with the lawsuit, while Pang Da said it was not.
GM, which operates in China in a partnership with state-run
automaker SAIC Motor Corp Ltd, late last year
effectively blocked deals with Pang Da and Youngman, Spyker
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.
Spyker charged GM with interfering in a prospective deal
with the Chinese companies by claiming it would no longer
license its technology to or build cars for Saab even though the
last agreement was structured to exclude the U.S. automaker's
intellectual property, according to the lawsuit.
Saab had created its own vehicle platform that did not use
any GM technology, so GM's statements that it would not support
a deal were "intentionally false" because such support was not
needed, Spyker said in the lawsuit.
In its response on Friday, GM dismissed the idea that its
technology would not be shared with the other investors under
the proposed Spyker deal.
"Putting aside whether this argument is factually wrong, it
misses the point," GM said, adding that it had the right to
terminate its technology license and supply agreements with Saab
if there was a change in control of Saab with GM's prior
"This right was clear and absolute, and did not depend on
how GM's technology purportedly was being handled," GM said.
GM bought half of Saab -- which had been making cars since
1947 and built a small, loyal following -- in 1990 and the rest
10 years later. It decided to sell the brand in 2009 after the
financial crisis and came close to closing it before Swedish
Automobile, then called Spyker Cars, bought Saab in January
Despite its well-known name, Saab was a niche player whose
future had been questioned by analysts. Saab was profitable in
only one of the 19 years GM owned it, executives with the
Detroit automaker have said.
A consortium called National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB
(NEVS) earlier this month closed a deal to buy most of Saab's
assets for an undisclosed sum. NEVS plans to build electric cars
for the Chinese market based on the Saab vehicle platforms,
starting in about 18 months.