Fiat adds Saab to dreams of global car empire

Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne’s dream of a new global force in carmaking is rapidly taking shape.

He has added General Motors’ Swedish unit Saab to his list, which already includes the bankrupted Chrysler and GM’s main European operations, Opel and Vauxhall.

Mr Marchionne has spent two days in Germany talking to government officials about acquiring Opel and is now in the US where he will meet Chrysler management.

He says he will become CEO of Chrysler after it emerges from bankruptcy proceedings in 60 days. In an interview he also revealed his Saab intentions.

“Saab is an interesting opportunity. The brand is however too small for the auto mass market. We could combine Saab with another brand. In the US there’s a Saab dealership network. It would be a pity to give that up.”

Saab sought protection from creditors in February after GM said it would sever ties with the unit by 2010 as part of its own reorganisation.

Mr Marchionne also says Fiat is interested in a tie-up with GM in Latin America but has ruled out an interest in GM’s operations in Russia and China.

He says Fiat’s plan to merge with Chrysler and GM Europe involves no cash outlay.

“I’m ready to offer 100% of Fiat’s auto unit – clean of debt – and assume Opel’s debt,” he says.

The new auto group would be independent from p[aren’t company Fiat SpA, which would keep commercial-truck maker Iveco, CNH Global, the maker of agricultural and construction equipment, and luxury-car brands Ferrari and Maserati.

In other industry developments overnight:

• Ford Motor Co’s sale of Volvo is gathering pace as Geely Holding Group, China’s biggest privately owned carmaker, and at least two more bidders review the books. Ford is seeking about $US2 billion for Volvo, less than a third of what it paid a decade ago.

• The Porsche and Piech families, who control Porsche, agreed to create a combined company with the 51%-owned Volkswagen, ending the sports-car maker’s bid to increase control over Europe’s largest carmaker. Porsche will become the 10th brand in a group alongside other VW brands including Audi and Skoda.

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If Saab can’t survive anymore then I think this is the best option, a friend working in the <a rel="follow" href="">Fox Car Rental</a> network was telling me about these plans, it’s a shame to see things come to this but Saab had a good run while it lasted.

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