AMSTERDAM - Spyker Cars NV, the tiny Dutch company that bought Swedish carmaker Saab from General Motors Co. for US$74 million in 2010, said Monday it is suing GM for US$3 billion in damages.
Spyker, along with its now-bankrupt Saab subsidiary, alleges that GM unfairly blocked deals that would have seen a Chinese manufacturer take over Saab production and save it from bankruptcy. It says GM feared competing with Saab in China.
"We owe it to our stakeholders and ourselves that justice is done," said Spyker CEO Victer Muller. "We tirelessly worked to save Saab Automobile until GM destroyed those efforts and deliberately drove Saab Automobile into bankruptcy."
GM could not immediately be reached for comment.
Saab continued a downward spiral under Spyker's ownership as consumers worried about buying cars from a maker that appeared likely to be out of business soon. The Swedish company eventually went bankrupt in late 2011. It is now being bought out of bankruptcy by National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB.
As part of the deal selling Saab, GM retained say over GM technology used by Saab — including the chassis of most of its models. It also kept US$327 million in preferred shares in Saab, with payments due to start several years after the sale, if Saab turns profitable.
Spyker has never turned a profit, and Saab never turned a profit under its oversight. When the takeover occurred in 2010, most analysts were extremely skeptical that Spyker would be able to turn Saab around, saying that it didn't have the quality to compete against high-end luxury cars, nor the volumes needed to compete in the upper-middle class market.
As Saab's financial position grew increasingly dire, chief executive Victor Muller cast about for various buyers for Saab.
The lawsuit filed in United States District Court of the Eastern District of Michigan alleges that GM unfairly used its right to prevent the sale of Saab to a Chinese company, citing its ownership of chassis technology. Spyker said one of the chassis was actually developed by Saab after it left GM.
"Since Saab Automobile is in receivership... Spyker and Saab have entered an agreement pursuant to which Spyker will bear the costs of such litigation in exchange for a very substantial share of Saab Automobile award when the proceedings are successful," Spyker said in a statement.
It said it had financial backing from an unnamed third party "to see the lawsuit through to the end."