There are conflicting reports as to why the deal between Spyker Cars and a Chinese automaker collapsed last week.
Spyker is saying it canceled the agreement with Hawtai Motor Group because it prevented Spyker and Saab Automobile AB from doing business with other Chinese automakers.
But the speculation by the Chinese news media is that the central government nixed the plan because Hawtai is too weak and too small.
Spyker announced on May 3 that it had negotiated an agreement with Hawtai that dealt with manufacturing, distribution and technology in China. But Spyker announced on Thursday, May 12, that it had terminated its relationship with Hawtai.
"At the last minute, there were some terms and conditions in the deal that Hawtai wanted to change that Victor would not change," said Tim Colbeck, the new COO of Saab Cars North America. Victor Muller is Spyker's chairman.
In order to open up the agreement to other potential partners in China, "we had to basically cancel the agreement to get the exclusivity clause lifted," said Colbeck.
Saab, which is owned by Spyker, is seeking loans and investments and an agreement with another Chinese automaker as part of an effort to restart production in Sweden, according to media reports last week. Production was halted last month because the automaker is unable to pay suppliers.
Company spokesman Michele Tinson said the company is in negotiations with several Chinese companies, including Hawtai. Reuters reported that Great Wall Motors is one of the companies. Tinson would not confirm that report.
Colbeck, 47, had worked at Subaru of America for 25 years, most recently as senior vice president for sales. Kurt Schirm, chairman of the Saab National Dealer Council and dealer principal of International Motors in Falls Church, Va., said the positive news is that there are a number of companies that are interested in being Saab's partner.
Said Schirm: "They recognize that, in spite of everything that has gone wrong in the last couple of years, particularly the last 18 months, the brand has equity."