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GM's Saab Sale Collapses Koenigsegg Backs Out

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A deal by General Motors to sell Saab has collapsed. GM says that Koenigsegg Group has decided to end the deal that was announced in June. Analysts say unless another buyer emerges soon, the Swedish car brand could be history.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

NPR's business news starts with another frustration for General Motors.

(Soundbite of music)

INSKEEP: GM had a plan to sell its faltering Saab unit and now that plan has collapsed. Unless another buyer emerges soon, the Swedish car brand could be history.

NPR's Frank Langfitt reports.

FRANK LANGFITT: Koenigsegg, a small Swedish sports carmaker, had planned to buy Saab. The company suggested delays by GM led it to drop the bid. That change of mind seemed to catch GM off-guard. Quote: "We're obviously very disappointed," said GM CEO Fritz Henderson in a statement.

Ms. MICHELLE KREBS (Edmonds.com): This didn't come as a surprise. It always seemed like an unlikely match.

LANGFITT: That's Michelle Krebs. She's a senior analyst Edmonds.com, the car consumer Web site. She says Koenigsegg is a niche player and it didn't seem to have the management heft or financing to take over Saab.

What's the likelihood that there is anybody else out there in wings who's a viable candidate to buy this company?

Ms. KREBS: I think the odds are very low and I think I'd look to China if there is a potential buyer.

LANGFITT: Indeed, Beijing Automotive was working with Koenigsegg on the Saab deal. But it's not clear whether the Chinese company is still interested. GM said it will access Saab's future in the coming days.

In its heyday, Saab was a quirky-looking brand that sold individualism, but through October of this year, Saab had sold just 7,400 cars in the U.S. If Saab shuts down, it will become the third GM division scrapped in 2009. GM has already decided to kill Pontiac and Saturn.

Frank Langfitt, NPR News, Washington.

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