Ecclestone in bid to buy Saab from GM

UPDATE #4 It was just announced today that Genii Capital has ended their bid for Saab, and Ecclestone will not pursue the company any further. It looks like we have lost an iconic Scandinavian brand.

01/17/10 A group led by Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone and Luxembourg investment firm Genii Capital is still in the running to acquire Saab from GM, the group's Swedish frontman says.

Amid media reports that Dutch sports carmaker Spyker was the last bidder for General Motors' loss-making Swedish unit, businessman Lars Carlstroem told AFP on Sunday: "No such information has been given to us. We are going on with our process and looking into things that we could eventually formalize better for GM."

"We are looking forward to a dialogue with GM next week. We don't see any obstacles or problems… we haven't had those kinds of indications at all," Carlstroem added.

He told AFP on Wednesday that his group made "a new offer showing the financial strength of Genii-Ecclestone", but refused to disclose details of the offer.

"We are looking into a possibility… to discuss with GM (an offer containing) a larger amount of cash" than competing bidders have offered, he said on Sunday.

Carlstroem explained that the Genii-Ecclestone offer would be larger than others, "not in terms of the total amount (of cash and preferred shares) but in terms of cash".

01/08/10 General Motors, the American motor manufacturer, has infuriated potential bidders, including the Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone, by appointing liquidators to begin a formal shutdown of Saab, less than 24 hours after receiving at least three offers from buyers keen to rescue the ailing Scandinavian car brand.

To the dismay of Swedish unions, GM announced today that it was seeking legal approval to appoint AlixPartners, a Michigan-based business advisory firm, to supervise an "orderly wind-down of Saab".

The decision, taken at a Saab board meeting, came less than a day after a deadline for offers to save the company that drew several proposals. A Dutch sports car manufacturer, Spyker Cars, tabled an offer. A second proposal came from a Swedish group fronted by a former deputy prime minister, Jan Nygren. And in a surprise move, Ecclestone, the billionaire impresario of the motor racing world, teamed up with a Luxembourg investment firm, Genii Capital, to launch a buyout attempt.

01/08/10 GM today confirmed it has selected AlixPartners to supervise the orderly wind down of Saab, and has requested approval of the selection by the appropriate authority in Sweden. The use of a wind down supervisor is a commonly-used process in Sweden and works in the interest of the shareholder.

The wind down process is expected to take several months, and will ensure that employees, dealers and suppliers are adequately protected. As stated previously, Saab customers can be assured that warranties will continue to be honored and that service and spare parts will continue to be available.

GM also confirmed that it has received several proposals for Saab and is continuing to evaluate these proposals. This evaluation is not affected by the appointment of AlixPartners.

01/07/10 (GMM) Two names closely aligned with formula one have emerged as bidders to buy the Swedish carmaker Saab.

The financial news service Bloomberg said the joint bidders are F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone and Genii Capital, the Luxembourg based investment company that recently bought a major stake in the Renault team.

They are facing off with Spyker, a Dutch specialist sports car maker that competed in F1 in 2007, to buy the currently General Motors (GM)-owned Saab.

"It's a good brand that has probably been neglected by the current owners," 79-year-old Ecclestone said. "We don't own it yet, so let's see what happens."

Genii Capital, headed by Gerard Lopez, confirmed in a statement that it is part of a bid to buy Saab with Ecclestone.

The Swedish financial newspaper Dagens Industri said on Thursday that a third group is also planning a bid for the carmaker, which is scheduled to hold a board meeting on Friday.

Other reports said GM had decided to wind down Saab but was still open to looking at offers.

A spokesman said: "GM continues to receive and evaluate proposals for Saab. We consider any discussions to be confidential, and we won't discuss any details until a decision is reached."

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