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GM Agrees Saab Sale to Koenigsegg

BBC News (Link) - AP (June 16, 2009)

General Motors has reached a tentative agreement to sell Saab to the Swedish sports car manufacturer Koenigsegg.

GM said that as part of the deal there would be $600m ( 367m) of funding from the European Investment Bank (EIB), guaranteed by the Swedish government.

It is the latest part of GM's reorganisation, which is also set to see the Opel and Vauxhall brands going to Canada's Magna.

Saab filed for reorganisation under Swedish law on 20 February.

Koenigsegg produces 18 cars a year and employs 45 people, and there has been some doubt as to whether it has the expertise to run Saab, which sold 93,000 cars in 2008.

Saab employs about 3,400 people in Sweden and about 12,000 other jobs in the country are dependent on Saab and its suppliers.

But GM Europe's president Carl-Peter Forster said: "Koenigsegg Group's unique combination of innovation, entrepreneurial spirit and financial strength... made it the right choice for Saab as well as for General Motors".

GM revamp

The statement from GM did not say how much is being paid for the unit, but the sale is expected to be completed by the end of September.

GM said it would continue to provide technology to Saab "during a defined time period".

GM currently has bankruptcy protection in the US and is slimming down its range of brands as it tries to regain profitability.

The Swedish government has been keen to avoid bailing out its carmakers as long as they are owned by US parent companies.

Joran Hagglund, state secretary for Sweden's industry ministry, said the financing had not yet been finalised.

"We do not yet know if Koenigsegg Group will need loan guarantees or not," he said.

GM bought half of Saab in 1989 and the rest of it in 2000.

Koenigsegg was founded 16 years ago by Christian Koenigsegg, and its principal backer is the Norwegian industrial designer Baard Eker. Its cars sell for about 900,000 each. †

America ~ Economic Crisis ~ Europe