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North Street Capital Buying Spyker

U.S. private equity firm North Street Capital will pay 32 million euro ($43.5 million) to buy the Spyker luxury sportscar business from Swedish Automobile. Cash-strapped Swedish Automobile, which owns car maker Saab, put up several assets for sale recently, attempting to stave off bankruptcy, Reuters wrote. A previous deal for Spyker fell though earlier this year.

(Reuters) – Swedish Automobile, owner of cash-strapped car maker Saab, said it would sell its Spyker luxury sportscar business to U.S. private equity firm North Street Capital, led by racing car enthusiast Alex Mascioli, for about 32 million euros.

Swedish Automobile has struggled for months to stave off bankruptcy, seeking new investors and selling off various assets so that it could pay suppliers and employees and resume production at its Saab plant in Sweden.

Last week, Saab won a reprieve when a Swedish court granted it protection from creditors while it awaits funding from Chinese investors.

Niche sportscar maker Spyker was one of several assets put up for sale by Amsterdam-listed parent Swedish Automobile, but a deal with Russian businessman Vladimir Antonov announced earlier this year subsequently fell through.

Spyker sports cars have appeared in Hollywood films including The Pink Panther and Basic Instinct 2. Only a few dozen are produced each year, with a list price of about 200,000 euros for the C8 Aileron.

The proceeds from the sale of the Spyker sportscar business will be used to pay down Swedish Automobile’s debt to Tenaci, Muller’s private investment company. Muller said Tenaci would then use the funds to repay a loan to Antonov.

Swedish Automobile said North Street, whose managing partner Alex Mascioli is a life-long race car driver, had the resources to take a long-term view on the development of Spyker as a high-end sportscar manufacturer.

Muller will remain chief executive of Spyker after the North Street deal.

“This is not a complicated transaction. It’s a very, very straightforward, all-cash deal, which I expect will be closed within a month,” said Victor Muller, chief executive of Swedish Automobile, Saab and Spyker, in a phone interview with Reuters.

Swedish Automobile had earlier warned in a statement: “There can be no assurance that the negotiations can be completed successfully and that final agreement can be reached on the above or different terms.”

Swedish Automobile announced in February it had agreed to sell Spyker to CPP Global Holdings, Antonov’s U.K. holding company, saying the deal could raise about 32 million euros.

But at the end of August, it disclosed that the deal had been put on hold. Muller on Thursday denied talk of a falling out with Antonov, saying his relationship with the Russian businessman was “excellent”.

Antonov has been waiting in the wings to take a stake in Swedish Automobile and put up financing, but he needs the approval of the EIB, the Swedish government, and former Saab owner GM .

This is because the government has guaranteed a loan to Saab from the EIB and GM still has preference shares in Saab.

“Antonov isn’t out of the game but he currently has a passive role because he has no choice. But as soon as the way is paved for his possible return it is up to him to make that choice. It’s his call,” Muller said.

Muller said he is looking for a new CEO for Saab and may announce a candidate within a month.

Swedish Automobile shares initially jumped 16 percent on the news of the North Street deal but gains were later trimmed to about 8 percent by 0855 GMT. (By Roberta B. Cowan; Editing by Sara Webb and Helen Massy-Beresford)