TIMELINE: GM's Saab car unit in deal with Koenigsegg

(Reuters) - Swedish sportscar maker Koenigsegg and General Motors struck a preliminary deal for the niche firm to take over loss-making carmaker Saab Automobile after two decades of U.S. ownership.

Following are some key events in the history of GM’s Saab Automobile unit:

1937 - SAAB or Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget founded in 1937 in Trollhattan, southwestern Sweden, to produce high-performance aircraft. It ventured into cars in 1946.

1969 - Saab AB and the truck manufacturer Scania-Vabis AB merge under the name Saab Scania AB.

1990 - The Saab car division is restructured into an independent company, Saab Automobile AB, with headquarters in Sweden. Investor AB and General Motors own 50 percent each.

2000 - GM buys the remaining 50 percent stake in Saab. Investor AB said GM was paying $125 million to exercise the buy option.

February 2005 - Swedish paper Dagens Industri reports GM is trying to sell loss-making Saab unit. GM denies the report.

March 2005 - GM’s German unit Adam Opel edges out Saab to win a crucial contract to build the next generation of GM’s mid-sized cars in Europe. The German and Swedish governments had lobbied hard to get the mid-size car work.

- Saab CEO and Chairman Peter Augustsson quits in the aftermath.

January 11, 2009 - GM has been in talks to sell its struggling Saab unit, GM Europe chief Carl-Peter Forster says.

January 12 - Sweden says it will not take a stake in Saab or plan more aid.

February 17 - In a restructuring plan submitted to the U.S. Treasury, GM says it will cap its financial support for Saab and aims for the brand to become an independent business as of January 1, 2010.

February 20 - Saab’s fight for survival gets a boost as a Swedish court grants it protection from creditors while it tries to find a new partner and raise fresh funds.

- Saab estimates it lost $340 million in 2008 and that it expects a similar loss for 2009, blaming slack demand, aging products, overcapacity and high costs.

February 23 - Sweden can guarantee a European Investment Bank loan to Saab if a new owner that can cover half the necessary financing emerges, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt says.

March 12 - Saab cuts 750 jobs and says investors in both Sweden and China are eyeing the company.

April 6 - A Swedish court gives Saab more time to restructure.

May 19 - Saab says it has selected three suitors for continued talks, but does not reveal who they are.

May 29 - Saab gets a further extension, until August 20, to its protection from creditors.

June 9 - Media reports say that three groups have entered bids for Saab - Swedish luxury sportscar maker Koenigsegg and Ira Rennert’s Renco Group are among the suitors, as well as Merbanco, a group of investors from the U.S. state of Wyoming.

June 16 - GM Europe says a preliminary deal has been reached for Koenigsegg to buy Saab.

Sources: Reuters/;

Writing by Jijo Jacob, Bangalore Editorial Reference Unit; Additional writing and editing by David Cutler, London Editorial reference Unit; additional editing by Jon Loades-Carter