GM reaches deal to sell Saturn brand to Penske

on June 05 2009 11:40 AM

General Motors Corp has reached a preliminary agreement to sell its Saturn brand to Penske Automotive Group in a deal that could preserve more than 350 dealerships and 13,000 jobs, the companies said on Friday.

The tentative deal for Saturn, which the companies hope to complete in the third quarter, is the second sale of a brand announced by GM since it filed for bankruptcy on Monday in an effort to drop unprofitable lines and leave court protection as a leaner company.

Penske, the No. 2 U.S. auto dealership group, would acquire rights to the Saturn brand and other assets, while bankrupt GM would continue production of the Saturn Aura, Vue and Outlook on a contract basis if the transaction is completed, GM and Penske said.

GM created Saturn in 1984 to compete with Japanese vehicles in terms of quality and service and initiated no-haggle flat-price sales for its models. The Saturn brand has languished for the last decade, and GM said in February that it would either be spun off or shut.

GM had said that more than a dozen buyers had expressed interest in the Saturn brand and its retail network. Penske had also said it was interested in the Saturn brand in early May.

On Tuesday, GM announced plans to sell its Hummer brand to a little-known Chinese heavy equipment manufacturer Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery.

(Reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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