GM, Ford Antsy to Unload Saab and Volvo Sale

By Mike Caggeso
Associate Editor
Money Morning

Cash-strapped and facing falling sales, automakers General Motors Corp. (GM) and Ford Motor Co. (F) said they are actively trying to sell their non-profitable Swedish brands Saab and Volvo.

Ford's chief executive Alan Mulally said the company has been in talks with a handful of potential bidders for Volvo, but didn't elaborate whom the company is speaking with. Likewise, GM Chief Executive Officer Richard Wagoner and Europe Chief Carl-Peter Forster claim GM was approached by an investor to buy Saab, Reuters reported.

"We have one party that sort of volunteered, that came up and said 'we are interested' and we said 'Fine let's talk about it but we don't know exactly what to do, how much, what are the conditions,"Forster said.

Volvo is the last foreign brand left in Ford's family of brands after the company famously unloaded its Jaguar and Land Rover brands to Tata Motors Inc. (ADR:TTM) last year.

Also, Ford divested about two-thirds of its stake in Mazda Motor Corp. in November, which netted the company about $538 million.

For the short term, Forster said the company is putting the sale of Saab "on the back burner now"because there isn't a funding plan or sales package in place.

GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz told Motor Trend Magazine that the company has been supporting its Saab brand for more than 20 years even though the line has been unprofitable for all of them. Its now-laughable Hummer brand is also up for sale.

"When you really are under severe financial stress and you have loans that you have to repay, you start to reprioritize,"Lutz said.

Sweden's government was once considered a buyer for Volvo and Saab, but has since ruled out buying stakes either brand.

More Money for Big Three

Buried under all the headlines from the Detroit Car Show, is the fact that GM and Chrysler LLC are positioning for more money from the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

Chrylser officials said the company is seeking another $3 billion after receiving $4 billion in TARP money last month, The Detroit News reported. It originally asked the U.S. Treasury for $7 billion.

GM was promised a $13.4 billion lifeline stretched out over 2009 depending on how well the company cuts operational costs. GM is due for $5.4 billion this month and another $4 billion in February if Congress releases the second half of the TARP money, Bloomberg reported.


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