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post #1 of 1 (permalink) Old 01-12-2009, 07:41 AM Thread Starter

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Post GM struggling to offload Saab

Sources close to Saab say that owner General Motors is having a difficult time trying to find an interested buyer for the Swedish automaker. Technically, GM put Saab under a “strategic review” as a part of the Detroit automaker’s long-term plan presented to Congress last month, but sources close to GM and Saab say that the Swedish brand has been heavily shopped around to potential suitors to no avail.

Though Fiat and Tata had long been rumored as potential suitors for the Swedish brand, the massive overall drop in new car sales has forced those companies - and any other potential suitors - to focus on staying afloat, not expanding their lineups.

Officially, GM is mum about its plans for Saab’s future.

“We are not commenting on the details of the strategic review,” Hummer-Saab-Cadillac sales channel spokesperson Joanne Krell told Automotive News. “As soon as we have some details to report, we will.”

A source close to GM told the publication that the automaker loses money on every Saab sold in North America due to a weak exchange between the dollar and the euro.

Saab hasn’t officially decided whether it will apply for the 25 billion kronor ($3.19 billion) bailout being offered by the Swedish government, though analysts predict the automaker will decide to.

GM has had a difficult time trying to sell Hummer, the other brand that it has quietly put up for sale. The two brands’ distribution in the U.S. is closely tied together due to a plan to combine retail outlets for Cadillac, Hummer and Saab in major markets.

It is believe that a purchase of Saab would not include the Swedish and German engineering facilities mostly staffed by Saab engineers. Those facilities have focused heavily on small displacement, turbocharged engines that most analysts see as the future for traditional gas-powered engines in automobiles. Not surprisingly, GM’s initial interest in Saab back in 1989, when it acquired half of the automaker, was due in part to the company’s small turbo expertise.

Ford has had a difficult time finding a buyer for its Swedish unit, Volvo, as well, meaning that the future of the Swedish auto industry is very much in doubt.

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