In a deal that would potentially save more than 13,000 jobs and ensure survival of 350 of the country's most desirable dealers, General Motors has agreed to sell its Saturn brand to the Penske Automotive Group, which is currently the country's second-largest auto retailer. The transaction price of the deal, which is expected to close sometime in the third quarter, was not revealed. However, under terms presented in the memorandum of understanding, Penske would acquire full ownership of the Saturn brand distribution rights through the existing dealer network plus other specified assets, including parts inventories. For its part, GM will continue production of the Aura, Vue and Outlook on a contract basis for at least two more years as Penske negotiates with other manufacturers for replacement vehicles that will populate the new Saturn-branded mix.
PAG Chairman, Roger Penske, whose expansive business empire already touches virtually every corner of the auto industry -- from retailing, leasing, rental and servicing operations to his equally legendary motorsport exploits -- sees this acquisition as a perfect extension of the organization. "We have agreed upon a framework that we believe will build momentum for the Saturn brand. Saturn has a passionate customer base and outstanding dealer network. For nearly 20 years Saturn has focused on treating the customer right. We share that philosophy, and we want to build on those strengths."
Saturn's General Manager, Jill Lajdziak, characterized the deal as a "combination of two iconic teams," that reflects a huge outpouring of dealer and owner support for the brand that had originally been characterized in its advertising as "A different kind of car company." It also puts an ironic exclamation point on the fact that its parent is now being remade into exactly that same entity.