Spyker Cars nears outcome in Saab takeover talks

AMSTERDAM/STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Dutch luxury car maker Spyker Cars said on Thursday it is nearing an outcome in its talks to buy Saab from General Motors, although it gave no indication as to how the talks were going.

Spyker Chief Executive Victor Muller told Reuters via a text message on Thursday that it was “likely” that it was now in exclusive talks with GM.

General Motors, which lost $88 billion between 2005 and 2008 was bailed out by the U.S. government in return for a pledge to restructure. It is cutting capacity in Europe by a fifth, and shedding 8,300 jobs.

GM had nominated two wind-down supervisors for Saab last week, but at the same said it was considering several bids for the company, effectively keeping the future of the iconic Swedish carmaker hanging in the balance.

Muller told Reuters that talks with GM were ongoing and the “outcome will be clear very soon,” adding later that news could come in the next few days.

Although Muller warned the “outcome is still unpredictable” in its 11th-hour effort to save the Swedish auto brand, there are indications that Spyker could be further along in its talks with GM than its rival bidders.

Spyker Cars is battling against another bid for the Swedish carmarker from investment firm Genii Capital, which is in turn backed by Formula One mogul Bernie Ecclestone.

But a source close to the Genii-Ecclestone bid said there had been no further discussions with GM or its advisors since last week, when the group submitted a revised offer.

The source said a statement concerning the status of the group’s bid could be published later on Thursday.

“The situation is on hold,” the source said, adding that GM could be in exclusive talks with Spyker.

Asked if he could confirm whether Spyker was in exclusive talks with GM, Muller said via text message he was unable to confirm it, but added that it was “likely.”

There has been no official indication of a deadline for a deal and a GM Europe spokesman said talks regarding Saab’s future are still ongoing. He did not comment further.

Genii Capital had earlier said this week it remained hopeful about its chances of buying Saab, as liquidators had yet to start dismantling the firm.

On Sunday, Muller denied reports that Genii Capital and Spyker were making a joint bid for Saab.

GM’s labor and capacity cuts at its European operations saw it announce earlier on Thursday it is to close an Opel plant in Antwerp in Belgium with the loss of 2,600 jobs.

Editing by Will Waterman and Rupert Winchester