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Saab may rise again on Phoenix


Its Netherlands-based parent company Spyker today announced a joint venture with China's Youngman Automobile to build Saab-based cars and an SUV in China.

Spyker says it will form two joint ventures with Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Company (Youngman) to build vehicles. Youngman will take a 29.9 per cent share in Spyker. Saab Australia spokesperson Gill Martin says “nothing official” has come out of the Swedish offices of Saab. 

“We have nothing to say until we get a statement from Saab,” she says. Readers with some interest in the crumbling Saab will remember Youngman as being one of the original Chinese companies that Spyker turned to for finance when it was trying to revive Saab after its exit from General Motors.

But GM thwarted any Chinese involvement, fearing its technology would be used by Youngman. That led to the Youngman deal collapsing and, in December 2011, Saab being declared bankrupt. Now, Spyker and Youngman plan to develop cars based on the Saab Phoenix platform - which was shown as a concept at the 2011 Geneva motor show - which is licensed to Youngman.

This platform is not related to any GM technology. The new deal aims to see Youngman hold 80 per cent of company owning the Phoenix platform, with the remainder owned by Spyker. The pair will also develop an SUV based on the six-year-old D8 Peking-to-Paris concept, shown at the 2006 Geneva show. The D8 is to launch at the end of 2014 with a price tag of $250,000.

In a statement overnight, Spyker said Youngman would invest 25 million Euros ($30 million) in the project, granting it 75 per cent of the shares, while Spyker would contribute the technology and retain 25 per cent of the shares. In addition to the two joint ventures, Youngman will pay $8 million for a 29.9 per cent equity stake in Spyker and make a shareholder loan of $4 million to the Dutch carmaker.

And to further cloudy the waters, while this is going on Spyker is embroiled in a $3 billion lawsuit against GM over the demise of Saab. And we're not finished yet. Youngman hasn't sat still, last month receiving its (Chinese) local government approval to buy German bus maker Viseon Bus.

Youngman will buy 74.9 per cent of Viseon for $1.2 million. Viseon, from Pilsting in Germany, posted a loss of $2.8 million on revenue of $38 million last year. Youngman will invest $3.6 million in the German bus maker and loan $7.3 million to shareholders and the company. Youngman's primary business is the manufacture of buses. It also makes small cars.