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GM contemplates blocking Saab sale to Chinese automakers

Company worries sale could endanger intellectual property

A business deal in the auto industry just came to a screeching halt.

American automaker General Motors Co. (GM) is threatening to block the proposed sale of the Swedish car manufacturer Saab Automobile AB, its former subsidiary, to two Chinese companies because it fears its intellectual property could be compromised.

The Financial Times reports that GM has expressed concerns about whether it would lose ownership of certain technology used in Saab vehicles through the sale of Saab to the Chinese automakers Pang Da Automobile Trade and Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile, which last month agreed to buy Saab from Saab’s parent company, Swedish Automobile, for €100 million. GM sold Saab to Swedish Automobile early last year.

According to MotorTrend, the deal expires Nov. 15 and is subject to approval by several parties, including GM, which has reportedly threatened to veto the Swedish court-approved sale.

Last week, GM said that it “would not be able to support a change in the ownership of Saab which could negatively impact GM’s existing relationships in China or otherwise adversely affect GM’s interests worldwide.”

GM’s IP fears blocked a similar deal in 2009. The company worried it would lose IP ownership if Chinese automaker Beijing Auto took a stake in GM’s European Opel brand.

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