M&A - Europe

AUTOSHOW-UPDATE 1-Saab time frame 'days not weeks' -Spyker CEO

* Spyker CEO says has improved bid for GM’s Saab

* Hopes for deal this week, but can’t be sure

* Spyker “working really around the clock” to snag Saab (Adds Spyker CEO comments, background)

DETROIT, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Dutch sports car maker Spyker SPYKR.AS is working "around the clock" to clinch a deal to buy Sweden's Saab and has a deadline of "days not weeks" as parent General Motors [GM.UL] starts winding down the business, Spyker's CEO said on Tuesday.

GM said earlier on Tuesday that none of the bids it received had met the financial requirements for a deal, and appointed wind-down supervisors to take immediate control of the ailing firm, but Spyker’s Victor Muller said he had not given up. [ID:nLDE60B1BS]


Muller declined to give any financial details on its bid for Saab, but said the Netherlands-based company had improved an earlier offer.

“We have shown Mr Whitacre the money,” he told delegates at the Automotive News World Congress taking place in Detroit, where industry executives have gathered this week for the annual auto show.

Muller said Spyker, whose high-end sporty cars sell for between $200,000 and $250,000, had “definitely” improved its bid for Saab.

“For the time being our bid is on the table and we’ll have to see how that is responded to.”


Muller said Spyker wanted to clinch a deal “as soon as practically possible” as the wind-down process had already started. “Effectively nothing has been done in Trolhattan to shut operations down. On the contrary, they’re manufacturing cars there,” Muller added.

“Our deadline is days not weeks,” Muller said. “If this wind-down would continue we would see effects on the Saab brand, and that would be very unattractive.”

Muller said the Swedish government had been “very supportive,” declining to give further details.

“If we would acquire the company we would be hiring rather than firing,” Muller said, as production capacity would need to increase rapidly.

Muller said he hoped to reach a deal this week, but could not say for sure whether this would happen. “Clearly there is a tremendous time pressure to come to a transaction.”

“What we would take as a signal to give up is ... if GM would refuse to take our offer, and pursue relentlessly to wind the company down, there is a point in time that you have to say ‘this is no longer for us.’”

Muller said Spyker wanted Saab for a number of reasons: buying the auto brand would allow it to keep R&D spending -- which is currently spent externally -- in-house, and it would benefit from the arrival of Saab’s engineers. Around 10 percent of Saab’s 1,100 dealers worldwide could be eligible to sell Spyker cars, tripling its sales infrastructure ahead of the arrival of new models.

“We’re not interested just to buy into an iconic brand. We’re interested because as a business it should be viable.”

GM has been trying to sell chronically unprofitable Saab for months. It reached a deal to sell the carmaker to Swedish sports car maker Koenigsegg in August, and China’s BAIC agreed to take a stake in Koenigsegg as part of the deal. But in November, Koenigsegg said it was pulling out of talks. BAIC later bought some technology from Saab, including the intellectual property for the 9-5 and 9-3 sedans.

For a FACTBOX on Saab, click on [ID:nLDE6061D2]

For a TIMELINE, click on [ID:nLI126043]

For a FACTBOX on Spyker, click on [ID:nGEE5B217O]