GM dismisses claims in Spyker's $3 billion lawsuit over Saab

Sat Sep 29, 2012 12:52am EDT
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By Ben Klayman and Deepa Seetharaman

(Reuters) - General Motors Co (GM.N: Quote) on Friday dismissed claims made in a $3 billion lawsuit filed by Saab's parent that the U.S. automaker deliberately bankrupted the Swedish company by blocking a deal with a Chinese investor.

GM, in a response filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, said the automaker had the legal right to approve Saab's transaction with China's Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co.

"The nub of plaintiffs' complaint is that GM declined to approve the transaction plaintiffs proposed to enter into with Youngman," GM said in the filings. "But the relevant contracts did not permit Saab to consummate the proposed transaction without GM's approval."

GM had previously said the lawsuit -- filed last month by Saab parent SpykerSPYKR.AS -- was without merit.

Saab, one of Sweden's best-known brands, stopped production in May 2011 when it could no longer pay suppliers and employees. It went bust in December, less than two years after GM sold it to Dutch sportscar maker Spyker.

GM's efforts to kill any sale were made to eliminate a potential rival in China, Spyker had said in the lawsuit.

Spyker Chief Executive Victor Muller said at the time that GM "had it coming" with regard to the lawsuit. Spyker is seeking at least $3 billion in compensatory damages, as well as interest and punitive damages, and legal fees.

For months, Muller tried to pull off a rescue deal with various Russian, Middle Eastern and Chinese investors, Youngman and Pang Da Automobile Trade Co Ltd 601258.SS.   Continued...

The General Motors logo is seen outside its headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan in this file photograph taken August 25, 2009. REUTERS/Jeff Kowalsky/Files