Merbanco As 3rd Bidder Alongside Koenigsegg & Renco?

Posted on 09. Jun, 2009 by in 2000-2009

While it seemed like the two remaining bidders, Koenigsegg & Renco continue to dual it out, and in my opinion, it should be 100% Koenigsegg, there now appears to be a third U.S. investment company now showing up as a potential 3rd bidder with Fiat gone and fully involved with Chrysler.

That new U.S. investment company based in Wyoming is Merbanco according to the Financial Times. I am starting to get worried, given that the best possible buyer may be questioned over two U.S. investment companies that know nothing about automobiles, Scandinavia, and most importantly, Saab’s heritage in particular.

I have tried contacting this company directly at their known address and phone number to no avail, perhaps you may have some luck in debunking this news? According to a a website, their finances seem a bit shaky, with only $130,000 in annual sales and they want to invest in Saab Automobile AB? Either this report is false or they are joking only to get their name in the news.

I hope that if the news does end up true, that Merbanco is actually representing a wealthy private individual who does not want to be named.

I am reporting on this for records sake, but I am going to disregard this company until some more “credible” material presents itself.

In the meantime. here is what the Financial Times are now reporting on this.

Three groups bid for Saab in spin-off

By John Reed

Published: June 8 2009 23:56 | Last updated: June 8 2009 23:56

Three groups have entered bids for Saab, General Motors’ insolvent Swedish car brand, and GM will choose a preferred bidder by the end of this week in a spin-off it will largely finance itself.

Koenigsegg, the Swedish supercar maker; Renco, a private holding that bought and turned around the maker of Humvee military vehicles, and a third group of investors from the US state of Wyoming have expressed interest in Saab, according to two people briefed on the sale.

GM has invited the three groups to meet for talks this week, ahead of the planned signing of a memorandum of understanding with one or more of them, according to one of the two people, who requested anonymity because details of the sale are confidential. Koenigsegg and Saab declined to comment, and Renco was unavailable for comment on Monday.

GM, which filed for bankruptcy protection in the US last week, will be contributing assets and cash worth $500m to finance Saab’s spin-off as a separate company.

The amount will include production equipment for the new version of Saab’s flagship 9-5 model, plus cash currently in the brand’s account worth about $150m.

The bidders are pledging some cash, plus contingent financing to pay GM back if they succeed in turning Saab around in what one of the people described as a “very complex and unconventional” acquisition.

The cash amounts pledged by the three bidders vary, but they are smaller than the amount GM is contributing.

GM will either sell 100 per cent of Saab or retain a minority stake worth less than 10 per cent.

After the sale, the brand and GM will still share engines and technology under service agreements.

Saab filed for insolvency in February after GM said it planned to wind down the brand, on which it has not turned a profit since buying half of its shares in 1990, and full control in 2000.

Last week a judge gave the unit another three months to reorganise, until August 20.

The rest of GM’s European operations are being spun off into a separate company grouped around Germany’s Opel, in which Canada’s Magna International and Russia’s Sberbank are seeking a 55 per cent stake.

Last week GM announced deals to sell its Hummer and Saturn brands.

Saab sold just 98,000 cars last year, and its sales record, reached in 2006, was 133,000.

Its small model portfolio and close integration with GM have raised question marks over its viability as a standalone company beginning its life in a severe global market downturn.

GM and Deutsche Bank, which is advising it on the sale, claim they are selling a “right-sized” carmaker.

Since entering reorganisation, Saab has cut its workforce by about 700 to 3,400, and asked a judge to approve the reduction of its debts by 75 per cent.

GM is its largest creditor, followed by the Swedish government.

Koenigsegg, based in Ängelholm, north of Malmo, is a privately owned producer of supercars selling for about £1m ($1.6m) each, including taxes. The company sold 18 cars last year.

Renco, controlled by investor Ira Rennert, is best known for buying and turning round AM General, the maker of Humvee military vehicles.

The third group, private investors who trade as Merbanco, could not be reached for comment on Monday.

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