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Saab saved – again

Line ball: Production at Saab’s Trollhattan plant should resume when supplier bills are paid using €30 million in cash from China’s Pang Da, although the deal is still to be approved.

China’s Pang Da emerges as Saab’s new saviour, just days after Hawtai deal failed

17 May 2011

THE ongoing saga over the future of Saab Automobile took a new turn this week with the announcement by parent Spyker Cars that it had forged a €95 million-plus ($A127.2m) deal with the large Chinese retail group Pang Da Automobile Trade Co.

Just four days after the previous rescue deal and proposed strategic partnership with China’s Hawtai Motor Group collapsed, the Dutch-based Spyker said it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Pang Da that should secure its “medium-term” funding needs.

Under the deal, Pang Da – which is described as China’s largest publicly listed automobile distributor with more than 1100 dealerships nationwide – will pay €65 million ($A87m) for a 24 per cent stake in Spyker Cars and make an additional €30 million ($A40.2m) payment to purchase Saab cars for sale in China.

It also has the option to buy up to €15 million worth of more Saab cars within 30 days.

If approved, the agreement will form the basis of a 50/50 joint venture between Spyker and Pang Da for the distribution of Saab-branded vehicles in China.

 center imageFrom top: Spyker Cars and Saab Automobile CEO Victor Muller, Saab 9-3, 9-4X, PhoeniX concept.

The memorandum also includes a manufacturing joint venture for Saab vehicles as well as those to emerge under a new Chinese brand established between Saab Automobile, Pang Da and a still-to-be-selected manufacturing partner.

Saab Automobile will be allowed up to a 50 per cent shareholding in the manufacturing JV, with Pang Da and the manufacturing partner to own the remaining shares.

The short-lived deal with Hawtai was struck on May 3 in a bid to resume production at Saab’s Trollhattan plant and to develop a new vehicle platform that would underpin its crucial next-generation 9-3 and other future models.

In return, the privately owned, Beijing-based Hawtai was to take a 29.9 per cent stake in Spyker and secure the rights to produce and distribute Saab vehicles in China, as well as share technology.

According to Spyker, the €30 million in cash from Pang Da should enable it to pay the debts owing to suppliers and restart production in Sweden “as soon as possible”.

There is, however, no definitive word at this stage on future vehicle platform architecture.

As was the case with Hawtai, the Pang Da deal is subject to “definitive transaction documentation and certain conditions”, which include approval from Chinese government agencies, the European Investment Bank, General Motors (which sold Saab to Spyker last year, but still has ties to the company) and the Swedish National Debt Office.

Spyker Cars and Saab Automobile CEO Victor Muller said in a statement that the partnership would allow both Saab and Pang Da “to create a strong business, initially in the distribution and subsequently in the manufacturing of Saab vehicles in China”.

“Pang Da is a forward-looking, profitable and well-capitalised public company that, as the single largest automobile distributor in China, sees enormous potential for our brand in their home market,” he said.

“We will work hard to finalise the relevant agreements and firmly establish Saab in the world’s fastest growing car market. Pang Da taking a substantial equity stake in Spyker underlines their confidence in our plans for the future and China in particular.” Pang Da CEO Pang Qinghua said: “This partnership allows us not only to distribute Saab, the iconic European premium brand, in China but also to set up a manufacturing joint venture which will further enhance the competitive position of the Saab brand in China.

“With the new products Saab has launched since it became an independent car manufacturer early last year, such as the all new Saab 9-5 and the Saab 9-4X which have been widely acclaimed, and not in the least the upcoming successor to the current Saab 9-3, we believe the timing is perfect for Saab to enter the Chinese market.

“Our size, financial strength and competence in addition to our ability to move fast will be crucial to Saab’s success in China.

“Having just gone public ourselves three weeks ago, we are delighted to have the opportunity to become a substantial shareholder in Spyker.

“We very much look forward to collaborating with Saab’s management to successfully enter our promising home market.”

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