A report from financial news service Bloomsbury has stated that a joint bid for GM’s embattled Saab brand has emerged from Bernie Ecclestone and Genii Capital, the Luxemburg-based investment company with a major stake in the Renault F1 team.
“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.”
The head of Genii Capital, Gerard Lopez, has confirmed its involvement in the bid to buy Saab with Ecclestone.
This news comes on the back of recent developments that have seen three groups competing to acquire the Swedish carmaker from GM, one of which is the Dutch boutique carmaker and former F1 team, Spyker.
Spyker submitted an improved bid for Saab yesterday, just ahead of a key deadline that could spell the closure of the brand. All of the proposals, so far, are said to be structured around that of Swedish supercar maker Koenigsegg, who pulled out of a potential deal to buy Saab in November of last year.
“We have continued a constructive dialogue with GM over the acquisition of Saab”, said Spyker CEO Victor Muller. “We believe the Saab brand has lots of potential and would be keen to close a deal as quickly as possible.” Muller is confident of his company’s bid for Saab, but his company’s current struggles to attain profitability could prove a difficult obstacle to achieving such a deal.
But why the bidding frenzy when the brand in question has been making a consistent loss in the 20 years it’s been under GM’s ownership? According to auto industry analyst Mike Tyndall of Nomura International, the Saab name is what would be valuable to any buyer.
Speaking to Autonews, Tyndall explained that “the actual equity in the brand is probably well beyond the value of market share of the company…The technology belongs predominantly to GM.” Tyndall was, however, skeptical regarding the odds of a meaningful acquisition that would reverse GM’s decision to begin winding down Saab. “The idea of there being an 11th-hour white knight seems far-fetched to me,” he said.
Three weeks ago, GM said it would shut down the 60-year-old automaker, did not indicate how it would treat Spyker’s bid or any other bids for Saab. Company chairman, Ed Whitacre, also stated that he was “not confident” that a deal to sell Saab would take place, citing most bidders difficulties in securing the required capital.
A more recent company statement added, “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.”