Who's to Blame for GM's Botched Sale of Saab?

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GM's plans to sell its Saab division have fallen apart following the pullout of Swedish buyer, Koenigsegg Group. Next week, GM's board is expected to decide the fate of the division, which is likely to result in shutting it down. The quirky Swedish carmaker has amassed a loyal cult of fans for odd details such as the trademark center-mounted ignition switch, but has had little success turning a profit. Here's what business reporters are saying about the failed deal and who or what is to blame:

  • Sorry Saab, the World Needs Fewer Cars, writes Michael Corkery at The Wall Street Journal: "After a year of massive restructuring, the industry was still bloated with overcapacity. Worldwide, the industry still has enough capacity to make 85.9 million cars and light trucks a year, yet it is on track to sell only about 50 million such vehicles in 2009. Saab has had only one profitable year in the past 12 and is expected to sell fewer than 100,000 cars this year. It just may not be able to survive on its own."
  • GM Really Screwed This One Up, writes Dan Indiviglio at The Atlantic: "This was a well-established brand that GM managed to drive into the ground... I find it bizarre that GM would be better off just winding down a brand like Saab rather than find someone to acquire it on the cheap. But perhaps GM really screwed up the brand so badly in 14 short years that buyers think it's beyond repair."
  • GM Can't Sell Anything, Can They? writes David Schepp at Daily Finance: "It seems General Motors isn't have any better luck at selling pieces of itself than it is at selling its cars and trucks... The deal's dissolution is the third such sale to fall through in as many months." These include GM's failed efforts to sell its Opel division to Magna International and its Saturn division to Penkse Automotive Group.
  • A Potential Chinese Buyer?  Bloomberg's Jeff Green reports that "Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., the Chinese carmaker bidding for Ford Motor Co.’s Volvo unit, may make an offer for Saab." The scoop comes from Dagens Industri newspaper, which reported the tidbit Wednesday, though it failed to cite any sources.

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