Saab Automobile Expects Soon to narrow its focus to one of three final bidders and complete a sale by early summer, a spokeswoman tells Ward's.
The Swedish auto maker won't say who the three finalists are in the sale process, which started with 27 interested parties, was narrowed to 10 and finally culled to three in May.
Fiat Auto Group has expressed interest in acquiring Saab from General Motors Corp. in conjunction with a bid to take a controlling stake in GM's Adam Opel GmbH subsidiary in Germany, but Saab spokeswoman Gunilla Gustavs won't say whether Fiat is considered one of the three finalists.
Gustavs declines to reveal whether the final three Saab bidders are auto makers, independent investors, other types of companies or a combination of all three.
“We're not commenting further on the final three, although it was quite a mix when we were at 10 (bidders),” she says.
Saab has been in bankruptcy in Sweden since Feb. 20, which, like Chapter 11 in the U.S., has provided the auto maker with protection from creditors while it restructures and works to extract itself from GM.
The auto maker now believes it has its vehicle-development process sufficiently separated from GM operations, with agreements in place for technology sharing on the next-generation 9-5 and upcoming 9-4X cross/utility vehicle due in the '10 model year and a more autonomous engineering team set to tackle future programs.
The new 9-5, based on GM's Epsilon platform, is heavily reliant on Opel for its engineering, while development of the Theta-based 9-4X, to be built in Mexico, is centered in North America.
Saab's business plan calls for the auto maker to concentrate its production at the Trollhattan, Sweden, assembly plant, where it currently builds the 9-3 and now is looking to add the next-generation 9-5, as well.
The new 9-5 was to be made at Opel's Russelsheim, Germany, plant, “but we're now looking at bringing that back (to Trollhattan),” Gustavs tells Ward's. “That would better utilize our production capacity.”