Saturn Deal Didn’t Meet Renault’s Return Requirement

Sharon Terlep from the Dow Jones Newswires: Auto magnate Roger Penske believed he was taking over General Motors' Saturn brand until the very last moments, when France's Renault shocked both Penske and GM by backing out of an agreement to provide vehicles. Penske addressed the failed deal Friday as he announced Penske Automotive Group's quarterly financial results. The company also disclosed it took a $1.9 million third-quarter charge on the Saturn deal. "We believed we were making substantial progress toward an agreement," Penske said during a conference call with investors. At the last minute, he said, Renault decided the Saturn venture "did not meet their return requirement." Under their novel agreement, Penske would have taken over GM's network of Saturn dealers. The auto maker would have continued producing Saturn vehicles for about two years after which time Renault would take over production.

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NY Times: GM Had Considered Selling Saturn Earlier this Fall, May Now Buy Out Saturn Retailers

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Bill Vlasic from the New York Times reported yesterday that GM is exploring the idea of "a significant shrinking of its North American operations, including shutting more factories and streamlining its sprawling brand lineup, according to people with knowledge of GM's deliberations. One move under discussion, for example, would have GM buy out dealers that exclusively sell Saturns and market the cars through its Buick-Pontiac-GMC dealers instead."