Spyker to Sell Sports-Car Unit to Vladimir Antonov in Focus on Saab Brand

Spyker Cars NV, the Dutch owner of Saab Automobile, agreed to sell its sports-car unit to Russian businessman Vladimir Antonov to help reduce debt.

Antonov, a former Spyker chairman and shareholder, will pay 15 million euros ($21 million) for the maker of the C8 Aileron and other supercar models that retail for more than $200,000, the Zeewolde, Netherlands-based company said today. In addition, Antonov would pay as much as 17 million euros over six years depending on the unit’s future profits.

The Dutch manufacturer, which sold 36 cars in 2009, the last available data, has been losing money since it sold shares for the first time in 2004. Antonov held 29.9 percent of Spyker before General Motors Co. demanded that he get rid of his stake before agreeing to sell Saab to Spyker. Tenaci Capital BV, a company controlled by Spyker Chief Executive Officer Victor Muller, eventually bought Antonov’s stake.

“It’s a logical step to do this, so the company can focus solely on the Saab business,” Martin Crum, an analyst at Amsterdams Effectenkantoor BV, said by telephone. “Financially it’s positive as well because the debt will be reduced. It will reinforce the balance sheet and reduce the interest the company must pay.”

Spyker rose as much as 13 percent, the biggest intraday jump since Jan. 25, and was up 5 percent at 5.55 euros at 12:24 p.m. in Amsterdam. Before today, the stock had risen 52 percent this year.

Saab Focus

“This transaction will allow Spyker Cars N.V. to focus on the Saab Automobile business exclusively, will eliminate the requirement for us to make further capital investment in the Spyker business and will reduce our debt,” Spyker Chairman Hans Hugenholtz said in the statement.

The Dutch manufacturer owed about 74 million euros to Tenaci as of Sept. 30, part of which were funds that helped finance the acquisition of Saab in February 2010. To further reduce debt and interest, Spyker within six months plans to convert 17 million euros of its debt owed to Tenaci into shares, it said.

Muller will remain Spyker CEO until a successor is appointed, the company said. It will change its name “shortly” to better reflect its greater focus on Saab.

Trollhaettan, Sweden-based Saab aims to sell 120,000 vehicles and become profitable by 2012.

Muller reiterated today that he’s considering listing Spyker’s shares on the Stockholm exchange, and that he may inform investors at a May 19 shareholder meeting about its intentions. The sale of the sports-car unit should facilitate a Stockholm listing, he said on a telephone conference.

“If we would go to the Stockholm exchange, the proposition would be a clearer one, and hence a better one” if Spyker operates Saab without the sports-car unit, he said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Ola Kinnander in Stockholm at okinnander@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net

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