DETROIT (Jan. 9, 2009) — General Motors Corp. has found no interested buyers for Saab, sources familiar with efforts to sell the Swedish brand said.
GM put Saab under "strategic review" as part of the long-term viability plan submitted to Congress last month. In a subsequent interview with Automotive News, a sister publication of Rubber & Plastics News, GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said strategic review is "code for we realize they're not working and something needs to be done."
GM has not announced a decision to sell the brand, but has quietly shopped it around, the source said. Corporations typically consider whether potential buyers exist for a business when conducting strategic reviews.
The lack of interest makes Saab the second brand GM has been unable to shed as the global financial crisis curbs merger and acquisitions. The auto maker has also failed to find a buyer for Hummer, which was put under review in June.
As part of the survival plan, GM also said it will trim its Pontiac line and explore the future of Saturn. President George W. Bush pledged $13.4 billion in loans to GM last month after the Senate rejected a bailout proposal.
Joanne Krell, a spokeswoman for GM's Hummer-Saab-Cadillac sales channel, declined to discuss efforts to sell Saab. "We are not commenting on the details of the strategic review," she said. "As soon as we have some details to report, we will."
GM bought half of Saab in 1989 and the rest of the company a decade later. Under GM, Saab sales in the U.S. have never topped their peak of 48,181 set in 1986. Saab sold 21,368 vehicles in the U.S. last year, down 34.7 percent from 2007, while the overall market dropped 18 percent.
The exchange rate between the euro and the dollar means that nearly every Saab sold in the U.S. is sold at a loss to GM, one of the sources said.