Saab in talks with BMW over potential partnership

Saab could be getting some of its parts and technology from BMW, according to Spyker Cars, the Dutch company that owns the Saab brand.

By , AP Business Writer

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    Spyker Cars, the Dutch owner of Saab, has confirmed that it is in talks with BMW over a potential major partnership deal.
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Spyker Cars NV, the Dutch owner of the Saab brand, said Monday it is in talks with BMW AG about the German company potentially supplying it with parts and technology.

In a statement, Spyker says it "confirms that talks are ongoing" with BMW and it would release details once a deal has been reached. BMW declined comment.

Dutch state broadcaster NOS news reported earlier Monday that the two are in talks on a "major deal" and BMW may supply engines for some Saab models.

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Spyker has been looking for an engine supplier for the upcoming 9-4X sport utility vehicle and a more general technology partner for an as-yet unnamed mini line.

The loss-making company sold just 10,000 cars in the first half of 2010, a tiny percentage of the roughly 7.5 million sold in Europe in the same period, and Spyker lacks the resources to develop new lines without help from larger partners.

Meanwhile, BMW has said it is looking to sell and license its technology to other companies as part of its business model. It already supplies French carmaker Peugeot with motors for some smaller car lines.

Tiny Spyker bought Saab out of liquidation earlier this year from General Motors Co. for $74 million in cash. GM also received $326 million in interest-bearing preferred shares in Saab.

Spyker shares surged 38 percent to €3.30 in Amsterdam on news of the BMW talks, on hopes a deal will boost Saab's image and viability. BMW shares were down 0.8 percent at €49.96 in Frankfurt.

Spyker lost €139 million in the first half of 2010 and it had negative net worth of €126 million ($172 million) as of June 30. It says it has access to €546 million in funding — enough for about two years of operation at the current rate.

Spyker CEO Victor Muller forecasts selling 80,000 Saabs in 2011 and reaching 120,000 and profitability in 2012, though analysts question whether that is realistic.

Saab plans to launch the 9-4X next year based on a GM Opel chassis, and Muller has said it may also relaunch the defunct 92 line by 2013 as a minicar with an appearance will harken back to the teardrop-shaped look Saab had in the 1950s.

Separately Monday, Saab said it plans a press conference at a major car show in Paris on Sept. 30 at which Muller will present "the latest product and corporate information relating to Saab as an independent car manufacturer."

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