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GM Says Saab Decision Expected by Next Month

Tuesday, 12 Jan 2010 09:25 AM

The final decision on whether Swedish automaker Saab will live or die is likely to come later this month or in February, General Motors Co.'s top European executive said Tuesday.

But GM Europe President Nick Reilly said the longer the troubled brand lingers without being sold, the less likely a sale will be.

GM started closing Saab operations last week but still is in talks with two possible suitors.

CEO Ed Whitacre Jr. said last week that he was not optimistic Saab could be saved.

Reilly also told reporters at the Detroit auto show Tuesday that he expects to finish restructuring GM's Opel operations this month. He says changes that combine GM Europe and Opel management will be announced Friday or Monday.

GM is trying to gain concessions from unions and loans from European countries as it restructures Opel.

GM has been trying to sell Saab for more than a year, but has entertained other bids after a deal with Swedish specialty car maker Koenigsegg collapsed last month.

Dutch automaker Spyker made a bid last week, as did Luxembourg private equity group Genii Capital and also emerged as a new suitor, saying it had teamed up with British billionaire and Formula 1 tycoon Bernard Ecclestone.

But GM announced last week that it had hired a company to start winding down Saab's operations. The automaker employs about 3,400 people.

Reilly said while the negotiations continue, Saab continues to lose money.

"The longer it carries on as we start to wind it down, the more difficult it is for somebody to come along and buy it," Reilly said.

He also said Opel lost money last year and probably will this year. But the restructuring is designed to get the brand to a break-even point at 13 million to 13.5 million sales in Western Europe.

The restructuring includes concessions from workers, as well as job cuts and factory reductions. But Reilly also said it will include product investments. Workers could see profit sharing as compensation for the concessions, he said.

GM will need roughly 3.3 billion euros to fund the restructuring and may provide 600 million euros of that itself. But the rest would come from concessions and loans from European governments.

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The final decision on whether Swedish automaker Saab will live or die is likely to come later this month or in February, General Motors Co.'s top European executive said Tuesday.But GM Europe President Nick Reilly said the longer the troubled brand lingers without being...
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2010-25-12
 

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