M&A - Europe

UPDATE 4-Spyker extends offer for GM's Saab, Sweden hopes

 * Spyker Cars extends offer expiry until 'further notice'
 * Swedish govt says renewed bid offers slim thread of hope
 * Swedish govt allots $75 mln in aid for possible closure
 * Spyker shares close up 19.9 pct at 2.05 euros
 (Recasts first sentence, adds extension of Spyker Cars offer
expiry, other details)
 By Gilbert Kreijger and Niklas Pollard
 AMSTERDAM/STOCKHOLM, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Sweden said a
last-ditch bid by Spyker Cars SPYKR.AS for Saab offered a
thread of hope the iconic brand would survive, as talks between
the Dutch luxury carmaker and General Motors triggered an
extended deadline.
 Russia-backed Spyker said on Sunday it had lodged a renewed
fast-track offer to buy Saab from General Motors [GM.UL],
imposing an expiry of 2200 GMT on Monday, but said on Monday
night it had extended the expiry.
 The surprise new offer from Spyker -- which made 43 luxury
cars last year against Saab's sales of 93,295 -- came just two
days after talks with GM over a rescue of the loss-making
Swedish manufacturer collapsed.
 "It is open-ended. It has been extended until further
notice," Spyker Cars Chief Executive Victor Muller told
 Swedish Enterprise Minister Maud Olofsson earlier told a
news conference the renewed approach from Spyker had offered a
slim thread of hope of finding a solution for Saab.
 "It is very late, there is a very tight timetable, and that
means the situation is very difficult," she said after meeting
with representatives of Saab and local authorities.
 Spyker Cars said on Sunday it had submitted a new offer to
GM, including an 11-point proposal addressing issues that arose
during the due diligence process for its old bid.
 "We've had various discussions with them today," Muller
told Reuters prior to the extension of the offer expiry, adding
that talks were "definitely" ongoing.
 The Swedish government said it would allot 542 million
Swedish crowns ($75 million) to measures, mainly for education
and job schemes, to help deal with the thousands of jobs set to
disappear if Saab was shut down.
 Abandoning the 60-year-old Swedish auto brand would
eliminate 3,400 jobs in Sweden and hit 1,100 Saab dealers, but
General Motors raised hopes on Sunday when it said it would
evaluate several new expressions of interest for Saab.
 "We should be careful about fueling new hopes in a
situation where the people in Trollhattan, and at Saab and
their subcontractors are thrown between hope and despair,"
Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt told journalists.
 Shares in Spyker Cars closed up 19.9 percent at 2.05 euros
in Amsterdam as its renewed approach to Saab sparked talk the
Dutch firm -- which had a market capitalisation of just 26.6
million euros ($38.12 million) at Friday's close -- may
exponentially expand operations and perhaps become profitable.
 "The stock's value is close to nothing but if they succeed
to buy Saab, invest, and turn the company around then the
shares can become valuable," said a Dutch analyst who declined
to be named.
 Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet, citing unidentified
sources, said the ownership structure backing the Spyker bid
had been altered to placate worries at GM and that Russian
parties were no longer involved.
 "That which was considered a problem has been solved," the
newspaper quoted a source as saying.
 Russian banking tycoon Vladimir Antonov holds a stake of
almost 30 percent in Spyker Cars.
 Russian state-controlled Sberbank SBER03.MM and Canada's
Magna MGa.TO tried to buy a stake in GM's Opel unit until GM
decided to keep it last month. Russia is keen to obtain Western
technology to re-energise its local car industry.
[ID:nN03518816] [ID:nNLP502374]
 Spyker Cars CEO Muller said if a deal is achieved, Saab and
Spyker Cars would operate as sister companies where Spyker
could benefit from Saab's technical resources and its
distribution network, while Spyker would bring entrepreneurial
skills to Saab. "The synergies are very, very clear," he said.
 Spyker Cars said its new offer eliminates the need for a
European Investment Bank (EIB) loan approval prior to year end,
which would allow the deal to be concluded within GM's deadline
of Dec. 31, but Muller said approval of the EIB loan could
still take place in 2010.
 "The ball is in GM's court and I don't know how GM views
this. That remains to be seen," said Paul Akerlund, local union
leader at Saab in Trollhattan.
 Saab Automobile spokesman Eric Geers has declined comment.