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Spyker Signs Deal to Buy Saab from GM

For now, it seems the endless speculation surrounding Saab's future is over: Dutch sports car manufacturer Spyker Cars N.V. finally brokered a deal to purchase the Swedish automaker from General Motors.

"Today's announcement is great news for Saab employees, dealers, and suppliers," said John Smith, GM's vice president of corporate planning and alliances. "It's great news for millions of Saab customers and fans world wide, and great news for GM."

Although details on the transaction are still emerging, it seems Spyker has given GM nearly $74 million in cash. Spyker plans on forming a new company -- Saab Spyker Automobiles -- and will subsequently give GM nearly $326 million in preferred stock. Spyker will also pay nearly $10 million to cover Saab's obligations to GMAC.

The transaction also involves a $400 million loan from the European Investment Bank, which the Swedish government has agreed to back. Spyker says a verdict from the EIB is expected "soon," and GM says the sale could begin by mid-February. Spyker will likely deliver the $74 million in two payments, the first on February 15, and the last on June 15.

For the time being, the wind-down operations at Saab will continue until the transaction occurs, but Smith notes the sale is "timely," seeing as the procedure hasn't gone too far. Outstanding European orders for the 9-3 will continue to be built in Trollhattan at least through the 29th, while early build examples of the new 9-5 and 9-4x are currently being assembled. Full-scale 9-5 production is expected to begin in late April.

As part of the agreement, GM will continue to provide Saab-Spyker with powertrain for a "mutually agreeable" period of time, and will build the 9-4x at its facility in Rampos Aries, Mexico. Parts and warranty work will be backed by GM until Saab-Spyker can set up an independent sales and service network, but Smith says customers will see no break in coverage.