Saab Automobile AB v. General Motors Co., No. 13-1899 (6th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
In 2010, GM sold its subsidiary Saab to Spyker: Spyker acquired a majority interest in Saab, and GM retained a minority interest through preferred shares. The parties entered into an agreement under which GM granted Saab a license to make certain Saab models using GM intellectual property. It prohibited Saab from assigning or transferring its rights without GM’s prior written consent until 2024. In 2010-2011, Saab faced financial hardship and attempted to enter into investment arrangements with Youngman, a Chinese automobile manufacturer. GM refused to approve any agreements that involved Chinese ownership or control of its licensed technology. Saab filed for voluntary reorganization under Swedish law. Saab and Youngman negotiated an agreement and circulated an unexecuted copy: Youngman would provide Saab an immediate cash infusion as a loan, which would be converted into an equity interest in Saab after Saab ceased using GM technology. A GM spokesperson made statements indicating that the agreement was not materially different than what was previously proposed. Based on GM’s position, Youngman backed out; Saab went into bankruptcy. Saab sued for tortious interference with economic expectancy. The district court dismissed, finding that Plaintiffs failed to establish a valid business expectancy and intentional interference by GM. The Sixth Circuit affirmed.