As documented in publications such as Automoblog.net, the Swedish automaker Saab’s newly gained autonomy from General Motors has netted some serious growing pains under Spyker ownership. While trumpeting their future brand development with a new 9-3 and the 9-4x, most recent headlines have reported the halting of vehicle production at the Saab Trollhattan plant. Bad news was compounded by recent financial results by Saab’s parent company. Announcing results for the first quarter of 2011, Spyker Cars recorded a loss the equivalent to 118 million dollars US. Delivering some much-needed aid, two parties have provided the financial assistance needed for the Swedish automaker.
Spyker Cars announced they are selling 29.7% of their business to Hawtai Motor Group Company Limited in exchange for a 120 million Euro (approximately 178.3 million dollars US) investment into Saab. A Chinese-based auto company, Hawtai Motor Group was formed in 2000 just as the car market was beginning to explode in China. Building sport utility vehicles, Hawtai was recently connected in a successful yet short-lived joint venture with South Korean automaker Hyundai. In turn, Hawtai will gain access to Saab and Spyker’s international market as well as a distribution partner in China. Being seen as the rescuer of Saab, this has not been the first time Hawtai has been attached to a struggling auto company. In 2009, the Chinese vehicle manufacturer was mentioned as a possible stakeholder in the injured Chrysler Group.
Apart from the new automobile partnership, Spyker has also secured a separate deal acquiring 30 million Euro (just under 44.6 million US) loan from Gemini Investment Fund Limited. This short-term money will allow Saab Automobile AB to restart production within a week. A bit of complicated agreement, the financing from Gemini is described as a convertible loan that will translate into the lender receiving Spyker stock at a current fair market value of 4.88 Euros per share.
Both the Gemini and Hawtai deals effectively allow Saab to overcome another proverbial bump in the road. Sharing with many automotive observers the recent hiccups of the Swedish auto company, CEO of Spyker Victor Muller was up front with overcoming difficulties. “I would like to apologize to our dedicated employees, suppliers, dealers and customers for the disruptions of the past weeks. We will do everything in our power to restore the confidence in our company as soon as practically possible.” Muller said.
Fighting to bring profitability to an auto company which has recently been limited even by their own potential, Saab Automobile AB hopes to build on the optimism shown at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show for the premiere of the new Saab 9-3 and PhoeniX concept car. United Staes sales results for Saab are also showing encouragement after a tough year for the brand. For April 2011, Saab Car North America sold 696 vehicles netting a 227 percent improvement over 2010. Better yet, United States sales through the first 4 months of 2011 is measured at just under 700 percent better than last year. Globally, a sales increase of over 400 percent is recorded by Spyker Cars.
Information source: Automotive News, Saab Automobile AB
Photo source: Chris Nagy