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Published: 3/16/2010

Saab to locate North American HQ in Detroit suburb

ASSOCIATED PRESS

LANSING, Mich. — Now that General Motors Co. has sold its Saab brand to a Dutch carmaker, the employees who market the brand are moving to a new headquarters in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak.

GM completed the sale of Saab Automobile AB to Spyker Cars NV in February in a $74 million deal. Saab spokeswoman Michele Tinson said Tuesday that most of the employees moving into the new headquarters this week formerly were based at GM's downtown Detroit headquarters in the Renaissance Center.

Mike Colleran, president and COO of Saab Cars North America, said during a Lansing news conference that it made perfect sense to keep the company's sales, service and marketing arm in Michigan.

"When you're running an organization that's trying to sell and service and market cars in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, you need good people," he said. "The one thing that Michigan offers above all else is ... a really great supply of people that are automotive experts."

Spyker plans to invest $2.4 million on its new Saab headquarters, which will be located in a building being vacated by Ronnisch Construction Group. The company will employ 45 people to start and hopes to increase that to at least 60 as Saab disentangles itself from GM.

The company won a state tax credit Tuesday valued at $1.2 million over five years. The city of Royal Oak has approved a $29,000 tax abatement to support the project.

Colleran said sales slumped as GM tried to find a buyer for Saab, which employs around 3,400 workers making vehicles in Trollhattan, Sweden. Now that luxury carmaker Spyker is running the company, "we have vehicles on the water coming" to refill North American dealers' lots, he said.

Saab sold 8,680 cars in the U.S. last year, down 59 percent from 2008, when it sold 21,368. Colleran said the company hopes to restore North American sales to Saab's historical volume levels of 30,000 to 35,000 vehicles annually.

Saab sold around 40,000 cars worldwide last year, down from 94,000 a year earlier.

The company is preparing to launch four new vehicles in the next 16 months.

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm welcomed Saab's decision to keep its marketing arm in the state.

"We're very, very grateful that Saab has seen the wisdom of locating their headquarters in the automotive capital of the universe," she said during a news conference announcing Saab's decision.

Spyker Cars now is the parent company of Saab Automobile and Saab Cars North America. GM retains preferred shares in Saab worth $326 million. Spyker received a 400 million euro ($550.7 million) loan backed by the Swedish government.



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