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Agitating Shareholder Jerry York Asks GM To Shutter Saab

Posted by: David Kiley on January 10, 2006


Jerry York, who represents GM shareholder Kirk Kerkorian, addressed Wall Street analysts in Detroit January 10 and recommended, among other things, that GM jettison its Saab Cars division.

It’s hard to argue the point. Saab Cars has never made a dime of profit for Saab-Scania or GM after the company took it off the Swedish aerospace company’s hands. Today’s Saab lineup today: a 9-3 made from a GM platform that carries the Chevy Mailbu and others; a 9-7, an SUV spun off the Chevy Trailblazer; the 9-2, a reskinned Subaru WRX. And the 9-5, which is the last of the platforms originated by Saab’s Swedish engineers.

GM execs have re-tooled the positioning and marketing of Saab three times in the last three years. I polled executives from BMW, Volvo, Ford, Jaguar, Nissan and Toyota about whether they could think of a single reason to keep Saab Cars afloat and not one of them gave me an argument for keeping it if they were at GM. Only one of those companies expressed the slightest interest in buying it, and it was only because they could afford, they said, to give it a unique platform from which to spin original designs.

GM would send a positive signal to the marketplace if it sold or closed Saab if only to communicate that it was focusing on the b rands that matter and not distracting its people and resources on things that will never earn a return.

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