GM May Spin Off Saab

Joshua Duval
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Automotive News reported yesterday that GM is preparing to turn Saab into its own entity, according to an unidentified GM source. The move may be an attempt to make Saab a more viable investment for potential buyers, as GM has been unable to attract any suitors for the flailing subsidiary since its strategic review began in December.

"Saab has been negotiating with GM and the Swedish government about becoming a more independent company, initially as part of GM," the mystery GM source said. Saab would take control of its own decision-making and finances, according to the source.

Pail Akerlund, head of Saab's union, said, "Under this [plan], the Saab board will be more like a normal board, and less dependent on what happens on GM's European strategy board. They will make their own decisions." GM would still be the owner, but Saab would have its own budget, and move its operations, research, development and design work back to Sweden from Russelsheim, Germany, said Akerlund.

According to GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, Saab - which was purchased by the American auto maker in 2000 - has "been on GM life support." The Swedish company sold just 21,368 vehicles in the U.S. last year. The future of Saab will be decided before February 17, when GM is scheduled to submit its business plan to the U.S. government.

Saab spokesman Eric Geers said Saab has had "positive and constructive discussions with GM and the Swedish government about the future structure of the business."

Source: Automotive News

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