GM's Hummer Deal Failure: The Broader Impact of Tighter Chinese Lending Standards

| About: Motors Liquidation (MTLQQ)

For those of you following GM (OTC:MTLQQ) developments, it appears that the sale of Saab to Spyker has now closed (see Spyker Closes Purchase of Saab).

Spyker Cars of the Netherlands closed a deal to buy Saab from General Motors for cash and shares worth $400m, saving the Swedish car brand from closure and ending a sale that has dragged on for more than a year.

Saab said on Tuesday it had exited liquidation proceedings, and that control of the brand had broeen returned to Jan Ake Jonsson, its chief executive. The carmaker had been in administration since February 2009, when GM said it planned to sell or wind it down as it prepared to file for bankruptcy protection in the U.S.

The deal…will save 3,400 jobs at Saab’s operations in Sweden and more at its 1,100 dealers. Saab and Spyker will now operate as sister companies under the umbrella of Euronext-listed Spyker Cars NV.

In other GM news, the agreed upon deal to sell Hummer to Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machines of China has fallen through (see GM to Close Hummer After Sale Fails).

General Motors said on Wednesday that it would shut down Hummer, the brand of big sport utility vehicles that became synonymous with the term gas guzzler, after a deal to sell it to a Chinese manufacturer fell apart.

The buyer, Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machines, said in a statement that it had withdrawn its bid because it was unable to receive approval from the Chinese government…

Tight financial markets also hurt the deal. When the commerce ministry did not bless the transaction, the well-capitalized Chinese banks became reluctant to lend money…

Interesting. Although Saab is certainly the more promising of the two GM castoffs, if you would have told me as little as six months ago that the Saab deal would close and the Hummer deal would collapse, I would probably have laughed it off as the low probability outcome.

GM was having real difficulty finding a buyer for Saab. The process was fraught with several starts and stops, included various “interested” buyers (e.g., Koenigsegg, Spyker), had the on-again/off-again support of the Swedish government, and survived the collapse of several negotiated agreements.

By contrast, the deal with Sichuan Tengzhong seemed swift and sound. I did not foresee cause for concern, even with the regulatory delay. And given the Chinese appetite for Western assets (see Chinese Acquisitions in the Auto Industry) and the government’s easy money policies (especially in housing, see Is China a Bubble Economy?), the deal looked like a pretty sure bet.

I can’t help but wonder then about the broader implication of “well-capitalized Chinese banks” becoming “reluctant to lend money”…

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