Dutch carmaker Spyker said today that it has filed a $3 billion dollar claim in a US court against General Motors, whose actions it said led directly to Swedish Saab’s bankruptcy last year.

“The lawsuit seeks redress for the unlawful actions GM took to avoid competition with Saab Automobile in the Chinese market,” Saab’s owner Spyker said in a statement issued in Zeewolde in the Netherlands.

The Swedish carmaker filed for bankruptcy in December after attempts to raise funds in China were thwarted by GM, which had previously owned Saab and refused a transfer of patents needed for the Chinese deal to go through.

“GM’s actions had the direct and intended objective of driving Saab Automobile into bankruptcy, a result of GM’s tortiously interfering with a transaction... to restructure and remain a solvent growing concern,” Spyker said in the statement.

Detroit-based GM said in an email to AFP its lawyers “would review the lawsuit and respond in due course.”

Spyker said it would pay for Saab’s legal costs in the case filed in Michigan’s Eastern District Court, in return for a “very substantial share of Saab Automobile’s award when the proceedings are successful.”

Chinese carmaker Youngman had long been interested in buying Saab and tried to snap it up before it declared bankruptcy — but its efforts were stymied by Saab’s former owner GM, which balked at transferring the necessary technology licences.

“GM took all the steps to prevent us to make a deal with Youngman,” Spyker’s chief executive Victor Muller said during a telephone conference call, adding “it was evident that General Motors has deliberately pushed Saab over the cliff.”

Separately GM said yesterday that its joint ventures in China sold a record 1,99,503 vehicles in July, a 15.1 per cent increase from last year’s previous high for a single month.

Muller added the $3 billion claimed in compensation represented the value Saab would have had, had the deal with Youngman gone through.

He said that if the lawsuit was successful, “90 per cent of its proceeds would go to Spyker.”

The Dutch company estimated legal costs at “between one to two million euros.”

“Any money that goes into Saab will be considered Saab’s assets and might be distributed to the company’s creditors,” Muller added.

Bankruptcy administrators said in April that Saab had assets to cover just over a third of its debt of 13 billion kronor.

(This article was published on August 7, 2012)
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