Friday, December 18, 2009

Saab closure could be the result of poor GM management

From New York comes word that embattled General Motors has decided to shut down Swedish automaker Saab, the iconic 3,400-employee company it bought 20 years ago. GM has been trying for months to sell off the brand as part of its bankruptcy filing but was unable to reach deals with at least two suitors, according to Cable News Network (CNN). A long anticipated arrangement with Swedish exotic carmaker Koenigsegg fell through earlier this year and a last-minute deal with Dutch automaker Spyker couldn't be concluded in time to save the brand. "Despite the best efforts of all involved, it has become very clear that the due diligence required to complete this complex transaction could not be executed in a reasonable time," said Nick Reilly, president of GM Europe, CNN reported. "In order to maintain operations, Saab needed a quick resolution. We regret that we were not able to complete this transaction with Spyker Cars." The Koenigsegg deal's collapse followed a similar pattern, with last-minute complications also scuttling that arrangement. "In the end, Koenigsegg discovered some issues they didn't think could be overcome in a timely fashion," said John Smith, GM's vice president of corporate planning and alliances. "Like everybody, we would have preferred a different outcome." Well, that's what they say and, maybe in today's worldwide credit starved business environment, that's exactly what happened. But in light of the September failure of a deal to sell GM's Saturn subsidiary, and GM's decision to shut down its Pontiac brand, there may be another dynamic at work. If the Pontiac, Saturn and Saab brands were in good shape, any carmaker -- except, perhaps, for the other bankrupt U.S. company, Chrysler -- should have been happy to own them. At the price GM should have been willing to part with them -- the largest U.S. automaker is a highly motivated seller, remember -- there shouldn't have been any reason for all three deals to fall through in such a similar manner. GM's deal to sell its Hummer brand to Sichuan Tengzhong, a Chinese heavy equipment maker, is still awaiting government approvals, CNN said.

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