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BAIC pays US$220m for Saab

BEIJING Automotive Industry Holding Co said today it paid US$200 million to buy technology associated with the Saab brand in an attempt to speed the development of its own models.

The nation's fifth-largest car maker agreed to buy the vehicle platforms of Saab 9-3 and 9-5 model and other tooling and powertrain technologies from Saab early this month before General Motors Corp announced it would wind down the Swedish car unit.

BAIC said it plans to use Saab's technologies to develop three to four vehicles and three turbo engines over the next three years.

The purchase of technologies would be "a wise option" for BAIC, said John Zeng, an auto analyst from consulting firm Global Insight in Shanghai.

"Considering the intellectual property rights and technology knowhow it acquired, the deal is worth its price," said Zeng,

"Saab's technologies are still valuable for Chinese auto makers. But it is doubtful whether BAIC would be able to make good use of the technologies in its own models."

BAIC, which won 20 billion yuan (US$2.93 billion) credit from Bank of China, earlier said it would offer financial support to Koenigsegg Group AG for the purchase of Saab. Koenigsegg later pulled out of the bidding.

After years of assembly, BAIC, the Chinese partner of Hyundai Motor Corp and Daimler AG, is among Chinese car makers looking at international acquisition to upgrade technology for self-branded vehicles.

It failed to buy GM's Opel unit in July this year.

BAIC plans to launch its Beijing models next year including a mid-to-high class sedan and a sport-utility vehicle.

It aims to double its car sales to 2 million units with 200 billion yuan sales revenue over the next three years.


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