Mon, Dec 19, 2011 - Page 10 News List

GM says it will not approve Saab sale to Chinese investors

AFP, DETROIT

General Motors Co (GM) on Saturday repeated its opposition to the sale of the Swedish automaker Saab to a group of Chinese investors.

GM spokesman James Cain said the company remained opposed to the deal as structured and insisted no deal could move forward without GM’s approval.

“Saab’s various new alternative proposals are not meaningfully different from what was originally proposed to General Motors and rejected,” the spokesman said.

“Each proposal results either directly or indirectly in the transfer of control and or ownership of the company in a manner that would be detrimental to GM and its shareholders. As such, GM cannot support any of these proposed alternatives,” he added.

Various new proposals that have been floated by Saab in recent days, including statements that inaccurately suggest the consent of GM is not required for it to move forward, Cain said.

Saab continues to cling to life, but it faces long odds in its continued battle for survival. The company received some good news on Tuesday when its new Chinese partners transferred cash to Saab’s corporate accounts. The amount was not disclosed, but the transfer allowed the Swedish automaker to pay some bills, a Saab spokeswoman said.

“We remain optimistic and are hopeful a resolution will be reached by the end of the week,” Saab spokeswoman Michele Tinson said.

Saab has struggled since last spring when it was forced to shut down its production plant in Trollhattan, Sweden, following a dispute over payment with a supplier. The dispute cut off production of the Saab 9-5, which the company was counting on to generate cash.

Up until now, the Dutch businessman who purchased Saab from General Motors early last year, Victor Muller, has kept the Swedish automobile company alive through persistence and sheer will power. However, the Swedish judge supervising Saab’s bankruptcy proceedings could suspend the court action, forcing Saab into liquidation and spelling the end of efforts to rescue the company.

Saab’s chances of survival also suffered a serious blow earlier this month when GM said it would not sanction any deal with Chinese investors.

GM fears intellectual property in Saab’s hands, which originated from GM, could be transferred illicitly to other Chinese companies. GM has also cut off production of one of the vehicles Saab was counting on for its comeback, the Saab 94-X crossover, which was scheduled to be built at a GM assembly plant in Ramos Arizpe in Mexico.

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