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Spyker-Youngman JV to resurrect Saab tech

Concept to reality: Chinese carmaker Youngman hopes to help former Saab owner Spyker put its striking D8 Peking-to-Paris luxury SUV concept into production.

Saab Phoenix-based cars, $250,000 luxury SUV to emerge from Chinese Spyker deal

28 Aug 2012

FORMER Saab Automobile owner Spyker and Chinese car-maker Youngman have agreed to enter a joint venture aimed at producing premium vehicles based on the Saab-developed Phoenix platform and building a Spyker SUV previewed by the 2006 D8 Peking-to-Paris concept.

Pending due diligence and a go-ahead from the relevant authorities, Youngman will pump €10 million ($A12 million) into Spyker in the form of a 29.9 per cent stake worth €6.7m and a €3.3m shareholder loan.

The joint venture to “develop and manufacture a new full range of premium car models based on the Phoenix platform” will be called Spyker Phoenix, with Youngman owning 80 per cent of shares and Spyker holding the remaining 20 per cent.

The cars developed under this joint venture will be “positioned higher than the comparable Saab models were” and may be built in both Europe and China.

Youngman will contribute a further €25m for a 75 per cent share in the ‘Spyker P2P’ joint venture, while Spyker will contribute technology it developed to produce the D8 Peking-to-Paris SUV concept that debuted at the 2006 Geneva motor show.

 center imageFrom top: Spyker CEO Victor Muller Saab PhoeniX concept Saab logo.

The aim is to launch the “$250,000 Super Sports Utility Vehicle” by the end of 2014, with further models under consideration using the same technology.

Spyker will be paid €2.3m within seven days, with the remaining €7.7m paid “no later than 45 days after the execution of the definitive transaction documentation”.

Spyker CEO Victor Muller said his company has been “investigating the possibilities to continue our intended cooperation with Youngman to the benefit of both companies”.

“Youngman and Spyker lay the foundation for an intense cooperation whereby we will pursue the objectives we each had in mind when we were forging our cooperation as partners in Saab Automobile AB,” he said.

“We clearly share the vision on how to shape Spyker’s future as partners going forward.”

Youngman says it has no intention of increasing its Spyker stake beyond 29.9 per cent and “no ambition to make a mandatory offer on all outstanding shares”.

The Chinese company’s CEO, Pang Qingnian, said Youngman has “felt all along that a cooperation with Spyker had to be pursued, even after we both unjustifiably lost the opportunity to restructure Saab Automobile AB as a going concern”.

“With this agreement, many of our original intentions with the Saab brand will still take shape and we are excited to help Spyker further develop its vehicle model range.”

Making the joint venture work will take more than a cash injection, however, as the Wall Street Journal reports that in the run-up to bankruptcy Saab Automobile divided up the Phoenix platform technology into modules and Youngman received non-exclusive rights to only 20 per cent before Saab’s collapse.

In addition, a Chinese-Japanese consortium called National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) announced in June it would buy the majority of the defunct Swedish carmaker’s assets, including rights to the Phoenix platform, to produce EVs for the Chinese market – but the Wall Street Journal points to Swedish reports that the consortium has not yet raised financing for the deal.

Neither NEVS nor the Youngman-Spyker joint venture are likely to build cars bearing the traditional Saab badge as Volkswagen Group-owned truck manufacturer Scania has refused to allow NEVS to use the crowned griffin logo it shares.

Saab’s slide into bankruptcy late last year happened as Youngman withdrew its offer to invest in the 64-year-old Swedish company because former Saab owner and major stakeholder General Motors would not allow the transfer of technical licenses to a Chinese-owned company.

Saab and parent company Spyker filed a $US3 billion ($A2.9bn) lawsuit against GM earlier this month claiming the Detroit giant wrongly interfered with the transaction between Saab Automobile, Spyker and Youngman that would have enabled the company to remain a going concern.

Spyker this week granted GM a 30-day extension to respond to the lawsuit.

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