DETROIT –Co. Vice Chairman Bob Lutz says competitive issues will not hold up a potential sale of Saab Automobile AB.
“That’s OK,” Lutz tells Ward’s here after introducing new product for the Buick and GMC brands at the North American International Auto Show here. “The buyer would have the rights to the (intellectual property).”
GM twice has extended the deadline for brokering a deal to sell Saab and last week said it was unable to reach an 11th-hour deal to save the 65-year-old Swedish auto maker. But as GM winds Saab down, it continues to field offers.
Competitive issues were considered one stumbling block. GM wants to grow its remaining brands in emerging markets, and a new owner selling models such as the new Saab 9-5 sedan and 9-4X cross/utility with GM’s intellectual property would represent competition.
Competitive issues also helped torpedo a deal earlier this year calling for GM to sell its European Adam Opel GmbH unit to parts supplierInternational Inc. If Magna and partner OAO Group gained majority control of Opel, the Russian auto maker could have sped its product development with GM technology and become a competitor to GM in the up-and-coming region.
Lutz also pours water on speculation that money for Saab is a stumbling block.
“The offers we have received so far just aren’t as good as winding it down,” he says. In fact, Lutz is pleased to see GM taking such decisive action after “years of procrastination” over what to do with the brand.
Since GM gained full control of Saab earlier this decade, the brand has failed to turn a profit. But at the same time, Saab sorely has lacked product under GM, and the Detroit parent never seemed to have a direction for the brand.
However, Saab’s future arguably remains no clearer today than last week. Lutz says GM continues to mull offers and notes Victor Muller, CEO of leading-bidderCars. N.V., is in Detroit for the show.
has a modest presence here but will not host a press conference.
Lutz also squashes rumors GM might take the new Saab 9-5 to China under the Buick brand. “Total fabrication,” he says.