Saab workers are probably reminding themselves it is always darkest just before the dawn, which takes a lot longer to arrive in the Scandinavian winter than anywhere else. With the lights set to start going out at Saab plants, word surfaced that parent General Motors’ Dec. 31 deadline for bids was being extended into early January.
GM had given itself to the end of this month to consider bids for loss-making Saab while continuing a process to wind down the company, which has drawn interest from Dutch luxury carmaker Spyker and others. Spyker Cars Chief Executive Victor Muller said in a text message GM had extended the deadline for a final offer from Spyker Cars until Jan. 7, and added he believed there are multiple bidders for Saab.
As we’ve noted previously in DealZone, having emerged from bankruptcy means GM doesn’t have to manage deadlines for asset sales with creditors breathing down its neck. Sure, they have to keep an eye on Congress, which holds a majority stake of the company. But with healthcare, the financial overhaul and terrorism to worry about, GM could well keep extending the deadline for a few months. Plus, its worth keeping in mind what kind of exposure GM is running here, and what a week or two really means for GM to keep the lights on at Saab.
The operation costs about a million dollars a day to run, and sales of Saab cars account for 1 percent of overall sales. Any prospective buyer will want to get hold of the operations while they are still warm, rather than have to pay to restart shuttered machines. While GM may be serious about getting out of Saab quickly, the deadline could turn out to be something a lot less morbid than it sounds if GM smells a palatable deal out there.