China buys part of Saab’s technology

RECOVERING US car giant General Motors (GM) sold part of the technology behind its Swedish Saab marque to China’s Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Corp (BAIC) yesterday.

The move, which allows the Beijing group to build Chinese cars based on the Saab platform, should now make it easier for GM to sell off the rest of the Swedish brand to another buyer.

BAIC is buying the intellectual property behind Saab’s 9-5 and 9-3 models for an undisclosed sum, and will use it to develop its gearbox and engine technology.

“The deal is an important milestone in BAIC’s cooperation with Saab. It has laid a fairly good foundation for the two sides to further explore win-win co-operation,” it said.

Saab said the companies had built up a “a good relationship,” and that the deal was “excellent for both parties”.

Saab also has partnerships with Daimler and Hyundai, but only makes vehicles under its own brand name.

The news comes after GM said it would close the Saab arm if it did not come up with a new buyer by the end of the year.

The comments followed the collapse of a deal to sell off the troubled Swedish company to the luxury Swedish car maker Koenigsegg.

Meanwhile, the shake up of GM’s board continued yesterday, as chief financial officer Ray Young, who helped steer the group through its bankruptcy over the summer in record time, was appointed vice president of international operations.

His appointment follows Michael Richards’ swift departure last week from GM’s Buick GMC arm, having been in the job just nine days. Richards was appointed on the same day that GM’s new chairman and chief executive Ed Whitacre made the shock announcement that chief executive Fritz Henderson had left GM.

GM is on a massive drive to restructure after slumping car sales devastated the business.