Saving Saab: Spyker To Sell Luxury Sports Car Biz To Save Swedish Icon
Spyker, which bought Saab from General Motors in 2010, has signed a memo of understanding to sell the Spyker business and brand to Russian financier Vladimir Antonov, who owns CPP Global Holdings in the U.K.
The sale of Spyker is expected to raise $44 million, substantially reducing the company's debt, and positioning it better to give Saab a shot at surviving as a niche premium car brand.
"Spyker's (luxury car business) is a small fish in a large pond. Spyker would need additional funds, but to issue shares and dilute shareholders seemed like a very bad plan so we decided to divest these activities," Spyker CEO and Saab chairman Victor Muller told reporters in a conference call.
Muller made his fortune in the fashion business as founder of the McGregor Fashion Group.
Spyker sold just 36 cars in 2009, the last year in which figures are available. The price-tag for a Spyker is about $280,000-$300,000.
Saab sold just 31,696 cars worldwide last year, and fewer than 6,000 of those in the U.S.
Prices for Saabs start at $28,900 for the 9-3 sedan to $39,990 for the 9-3 convertible. The Saab 9-5 sedan starts at $38,525. There is a Saab 9-4x, based on the same vehicle platform as the Cadillac SRX, which will be in showrooms later this year.
Muller's goal is to sell 80,000 vehicles worldwide this year, and 120,000 vehicles worldwide next year. It is unlikely that he will reach those goals based on current sales. But the company is trying to make a go of it.
Saab has always drawn a quirky customer base who seemed to want to be the only one on their block with that brand of car. Most Saabs have traditionally had the ignition in the center console rather than in the dash, one of the design oddities that has attracted buyers.
Former GM vice chairman Bob Lutz says the problem with Saab is that "When you try to attract more buyers by being less quirky, the brand has not succeeded, and there haven't been enough Saab lovers to make the business work."