General Motors named a restructuring firm to run the winding-down of Swedish carmaker Saab on Friday, even as it reviewed several bids which included an offer from Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
No. 1 U.S. automaker GM
In a statement, GM named consultancy AlixPartners -- already closely involved in GM's restructuring -- to run Saab's liquidation. GM today confirmed it has selected AlixPartners to supervise the orderly wind-down of Saab, it said. The ... process is expected to take several months.
A senior union official criticized GM's stance. It is irresponsible of GM to move at the same time in two different directions -- both toward a sale and a wind-down, IF Metall chairman Stefan Lofven said in a statement.
Dutch luxury carmaker Spyker
Genii Capital, which recently invested in Renault's
Genii added that Saab has a tremendous brand value in a number of key automotive markets as well as an innovative image.
Spyker, which confirmed late on Thursday it had made an improved bid, is hoping to gain Saab's technical resources and its distribution network, while bringing its entrepreneurial skills to the new group.
Swedish media reports on Friday named Jan Nygren, an ex executive of the aerospace arm of Saab and former senior official in the defense ministry, as the head of one group of Swedish investors submitting a last-minute bid.
Nygren, reached by telephone, confirmed he was part of a group of investors interested in Saab, but declined to offer more details about the proposal. I can confirm that I am part of the group that has showed formal interest for saving Saab from winding down, but that's about it, he said.
Saab spokesman Eric Geers said any decision over its future and the latest round of bids was in the hands of General Motors. We all hope these bids are strong enough for General Motors to consider them.
Swedish government officials plan to meet with GM's board early next week in Detroit to clarify what loan guarantees are available to potential bidders, and to seek details about the winding-down process if no sale materializes.
One thing is to continue the dialogue with GM to facilitate the process for loan guarantees, Swedish government spokesman Frank Nilsson said. The other track is to get more information about Saab's future, if they stick with the decision to shut it down.
Lars Carlstrom, a Swedish investor who is coordinating the Genii-Ecclestone bid, said the Formula One boss and his partners were keen on buying Saab mainly for the value of its brand.
What Genii and Ecclestone have found is that Saab is an amazing brand, comparable to brands such as Porsche and BMW, he said in a telephone interview. They love brands and they really value Saab's brand ... They are really supportive and will definitely be able to bring Saab to new heights.
Carlstrom said the joint bid would seek to secure loans from the European Investment Bank, although the bidders had not yet heard a response on their bid from General Motors.
Ecclestone, 79, is one of the wealthiest figures in sport and was ranked 24th in Britain in the 2009 Sunday Times rich list with an estimated fortune of 1.5 billion pounds. He has been a leading player in Formula One since he bought the now-defunct Brabham team in 1972.
A renowned dealmaker, he runs the commercial side of the sport on behalf of rights holders CVC Capital Partners. He had a triple heart bypass in 1999 and was divorced from his wife, Croatia-born Slavica, last year.
Ecclestone is also a co-owner of English second division soccer club Queens Park Rangers, along with former Renault team boss Flavio Briatore and Indian steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal (the eighth wealthiest man in the world according to Forbes).
(Editing by David Holmes)