Wind-Down Process Has Begun

Updated January 9, 12:53 PM

General Motors' ailing unit Saab was put into liquidation despite last-ditch bids for the loss-making Swedish brand by Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone and Dutch sportscar maker Spyker among others. The US auto giant confirmed the Swedish brand's closure Friday, saying it had selected consulting firm AlixPartners "to supervise the orderly wind down of Saab." According to GM, the wind down process will take several months.

But GM also said it had received several proposals for Saab and would continue evaluating these proposals. This evaluation would not be affected by the appointment of a liquidator.

Stefan Löfvén, head of Swedish union IF Metall, harshly criticized GM for moving to close Saab at the same time as it is evaluating bids. Several groups, including Dutch sportscar maker Spyker and one consisting of Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone and Luxembourg investment firm Genii Capital, said they presented GM with last-ditch bids to rescue Saab. Swedish media also reported Friday a Swedish group was interested in acquiring Saab and scaling down its operations. GM Europe's spokesperson Stefan Weinmann explained to the news agency AFP that his company was going ahead with the closure of Saab while parallel considering any new bids.

GM's actions regarding Saab have been repeatedly criticized by the Swedish government and Saab's unions, with questions arising over whether the US giant really intended to sell the unit. Jöran Hägglund, Swedish enterprise ministry state secretary, will be heading a Swedish delegation travelling to Detroit on Saturday to hold talks early next week with officials from GM.

Saab employs 3,400 people at the Trollhättan plant in West Sweden. Analysts have warned that up to 8,000 jobs could be lost with Saab's closure. The Swedish brand, which has been owned by GM for two decades, has been on the verge of extinction since GM said on December 18, 2009, it would wind down Saab.

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