DETROIT – General Motors Corp. took a key step toward its downsizing on Tuesday, striking a tentative deal to sell its Hummer brand to a Chinese manufacturer, while also revealing that it has potential buyers for its Saturn and Saab brands.
China’s Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Co. said Tuesday that it reached an agreement to acquire the brand of rugged SUVs from GM for an undisclosed amount.
Sichuan Tengzhong deals in road construction, plastics, resins and other industrial products, but Hummer would be its first step into the automotive business.
GM said the sale will likely save more than 3,000 U.S. jobs in manufacturing, engineering and at various Hummer dealerships. Tengzhong said it will assume GM’s existing agreements with Hummer dealers.
“We will be investing in the Hummer brand and its research and development capabilities, which will allow Hummer to better meet demand for new products such as more fuel-efficient vehicles in the U.S.,” Chief Executive Yang Yi said in a statement.
Hummer will keep its existing management team and remain based in the United States, the companies said. Tengzhong said it expects to expand the brand’s dealer network worldwide, including to China.
GM also said Tuesday that it has 16 buyers interested in purchasing its Saturn brand, while three parties are interested in the Swedish Saab brand.
Chief Financial Officer Ray Young told reporters and industry analysts on a conference call that GM is continuing to pursue manufacturing agreements with a new Saturn buyer.
GM would like to sell the money-losing Saturn brand’s dealership network, contracting with the new buyer to make some of its cars while the buyer gets other vehicles from different manufacturers.
At the same time, bridge loan discussions with the Swedish government are progressing, Young said.
GM, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in New York on Monday, is racing to remake itself as a smaller, leaner automaker. In addition to its plan to sell the Hummer, Saab and Saturn brands, GM will also phase out its Pontiac brand, concentrating on its Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC nameplates.
The company hopes to follow the lead of fellow U.S. automaker Chrysler LLC by transforming its most profitable assets into a new company in just 30 days and emerging from bankruptcy protection soon after.