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GM: Bid for Saab Makes Progress

July 16, 1999

DETROIT (AP) _ General Motors Corp. will decide soon on a possible buyout of the remaining half of Saab Automobile AB, the president of GM-Europe says.

GM acquired half of Saab from the Swedish holding company Investor AB for $600 million in 1989 and has an option to buy the remaining half for the six months starting July 31.

The Swedish automaker’s chief executive announced in March that talks would begin this month on whether GM will exercise its takeover option.

Taking complete control over the struggling automaker is seen as a way to give GM a stronger position in the global luxury car market.

``What we will do will play out in the near future,″ GM-Europe President Michael Burns told The Detroit News in Frankfurt, Germany, for a story Friday. ``Our final decisions have not been made.″

In a March interview with Dow Jones Newswires and financial cable network CNBC, Saab chief executive Robert Hendry suggested that Saab may not come cheap, given the automaker’s recent sales gains and improving financial balance sheet.

``Saab’s good performance makes both parties want to keep their shares,″ Hendry said at the Geneva Auto Show.

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