Saturn no longer ‘sold’

UPDATE – Press release now added.
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I was a little bit releived when I woke up this morning and found that Bard Eker’s supposed ‘deadline’ had passed without a massive influx of stories into my inbox and comments here. Koenigsegg are apparently still working things out.
But…..
In evidence that these deals should not to be considered signed, sealed and delivered until they actually are signed, sealed and delivered, Roger Penske has just pulled out of his deal to buy Saturn from GM.

Penske Automotive Group Inc. said late Wednesday it has broken off talks with General Motors Co. to buy GM’s Saturn brand. In a statement, Penske said it became concerned about “the future supply of vehicles beyond the supply period it had negotiated with GM” during the due diligence process. “The company had negotiated a definitive agreement with GM to source vehicles on a contract-manufactured basis for a period of time,” Penske said. “After this period, the company would have been required to source vehicles from another third party under a similar contract-manufacturing agreement.” Penske started talks with GM over acquiring Saturn in early June.

Saturn was, of course, one of the GM brands considered surplus to requirements, just like Saab. GM said that these brands, if they weren’t acquired by someone, would be abandoned at December 31 this year. Pontiac’s already gone and it seems, so too is Saturn.
The WSJ are now reporting that Saturn will just be closed down. It sounds like they’re not even going to try and find another buyer with just three months left in the year.

General Motors said it would close its Saturn operation after Penske Automotive Group ended its effort to acquire the brand.

If the renewed nervousness about the sale of Saab has any grounds to it, then I hope it comes to a head soon. Unlike Saturn, Saab actually has a product, design team and factory of its own and I’m sure there are still parties looking to buy it should Koenigsegg Group ‘do a Penske’.
I hope it doesn’t come to that, though. One stable sale would be preferable.
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The press release from Penske about their decision:
Penske Automotive Terminates Discussions with General Motors to Acquire Saturn
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Penske Automotive Group, Inc. an international automotive retailer, today announced that it has terminated its discussions with General Motors Company (“GM”) to acquire the Saturn brand, citing concerns directly related to the future supply of vehicles beyond the supply period it had negotiated with GM.
Since announcing its discussions with GM on June 5, 2009, the company has been in the due diligence process to determine the feasibility of developing an independent distribution model for Saturn-branded products and service parts in the United States, including the sourcing of vehicles from GM and other potential suppliers. The company had negotiated a definitive agreement with GM to source vehicles on a contract-manufactured basis for a period of time. After this period, the company would have been required to source vehicles from another third party under a similar contract-manufacturing agreement.
Penske Automotive Group negotiated the terms and conditions of an agreement with another manufacturer; however, that agreement was rejected by that manufacturer’s board of directors. Without that agreement, the company has determined that the risks and uncertainties related to the availability of future products prohibit the company from moving forward with this transaction.
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And the press release from General Motors:
General Motors Media Statement Attributed President & CEO Fritz Henderson
Today we learned that Penske Automotive Group (PAG) has decided to terminate discussions with General Motors to acquire Saturn. This is very disappointing news and comes after months of hard work by hundreds of dedicated employees and Saturn retailers who tried to make the new Saturn a reality. PAG’s announcement explained that their decision was not based on interactions with GM or Saturn retailers; rather it was because of the inability to source new products beyond what it had asked GM to build on contract.
As a result of PAG’s decision, we will be winding down the Saturn brand and dealership network, in accordance with the wind-down agreements that Saturn dealers recently signed with GM. Pursuant to the terms of those agreements, the wind down process will be determined and communicated shortly.
Saturn customers and owners will continue to be able to purchase and have their vehicles serviced at Saturn retailers during this process. Once the wind down is complete, Saturn owners will still be able to have their vehicles serviced at other GM dealerships. We will be communicating with our customers very soon to explain the next steps in this process.
Today’s disappointing news comes at a time when we’d hoped for a successful launch of the Saturn brand into a new chapter. We will be working closely with our dealers to ensure Saturn customers are cared for as we transition them to other GM dealers in the months ahead. I’d also like to thank every GM employee and Saturn retailer who worked so hard to try to make this new beginning happen for Saturn.

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