* Dutch sports car maker affirms interest from last week
* Does not know of end-of-week deadline
* Swedish paper reported time was tight for GM decision * Report says GM leaning towards one particular buyer
(Adds Swedish report, Saab comment)
By Ben Berkowitz
AMSTERDAM/STOCKHOLM, Dec 10 (Reuters) - Dutch sports car maker Spyker Cars NV SPYKR.AS remains interested in buying Swedish auto brand Saab and is not aware of any deadline imposed on the process, a spokesman for Spyker said.
Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet said on Thursday that Joran Hagglund, the state secretary at Sweden’s Enterprise Ministry, has told GM it needs to decide this week whether to sell the loss-making business. [ID:nGEE5B90AS]
GM is close to deciding which of Saab’s bidders will proceed to final negotiations, Swedish news agency TT reported on Thursday, citing a source.
The report said the buyer which GM is leaning towards has experience in car production on a small scale, and that it plans to run a full-scale car production line, including design and development, in Sweden.
It said the preferred buyer is one of the groups already mentioned in the press, and that all in all, TT said this pointed to Spyker as a favourite.
Saab spokesman Eric Geers declined to comment on the report but said it was evident things would have to unfold soon.
“There are signals everywhere showing we are well on track,” Geers said.
Spyker first said on Dec. 2 it was interested in Saab, which GM is scrambling to sell after a deal with Swedish luxury car builder Koenigsegg collapsed. GM has said it would hold on to Saab through year’s end and close it if it appears it cannot be sold. [ID:nN01514083]
“They’re not aware of any deadline,” the Spyker spokesman said Thursday, adding that the company’s interest was unchanged.
Saab also said there was no deadline, but that all sides would need to move quickly to make a deal this year.
Two people with direct knowledge of the discussions told Reuters on Monday that GM was in talks with China’s fifth largest car maker, Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Corp (BAIC), about a partial sale of assets associated with Saab. [ID:nN07182598]
Any such deal would likely lead to the liquidation of the unsold assets and the loss of more than 3,000 jobs in Sweden. Saab has said it is optimistic a deal can be found that would avoid a carve-up. [ID:nGEE5B70LH]
Spyker, which has roots dating to 1875, last year sold 43 of its luxury cars at prices of 200,000 euros ($294,200) and above. Its primary backers include Russian banking tycoon Vladimir Antonov and his Convers Group, with a 29.9 percent stake.
For a timeline on Saab, click here: [ID:nGEE5AO18T] (Additional reporting by Victoria Klesty in Stockholm, Jui Chakravorty Das in New York and Kevin Krolicki in Detroit; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter and Sharon Lindores) ($1=.6799 Euro)