July 25, 2008 / 7:00 PM / in 10 years

GM says has Hummer bidders, moving quickly

PONTIAC, Mich. (Reuters) - General Motors Corp (GM.N) has heard from some bidders interested in buying its Hummer SUV brand and is moving as quickly as possible toward a potential deal, Chief Executive Rick Wagoner said on Friday.

“We have some interested buyers, and I can’t tell you anything beyond that right now but we are moving as fast as we can,” Wagoner told reporters in Pontiac, Michigan, on the sidelines of an event to mark the opening of a new GM engineering and development center.

GM, which last week announced plans to cut $10 billion in costs as part of a plan to shore up liquidity, has faced scrutiny about its brand strategy and whether it could sell off or close any brands beyond Hummer.

But Wagoner said GM was committed to its Saab brand and planned to make an upcoming Saab model in North America, a bid to improve the brand’s profitability.

“Saab has been a critical part of our European portfolio and has the potential to be quite a good moneymaker for us, Wagoner said. “What we are planning is that in fact the next Saab will be built in North America.”

Wagoner also said July U.S. auto sales to date appeared to be trending at about the same pace as June when industrywide sales plunged to a 15-year low.

“So far this month feels not too different from last month, definitely not a big upswing or anything,” he said.

Wagoner said GM would continue to offer incentives as it did in June, when a zero-percent financing offer for six years helped the automaker hold its No. 1 spot in the U.S. market despite an 8-percent drop in sales.

“What we saw last month is that while consumers are not particularly active, if you offer something you can keep sales moving,” he said.

Wagoner said the U.S. economic outlook remained “pretty uncertain,” citing high prices for oil and commodities.

“You know the housing market, I’m not sure it’s getting worse but it doesn’t seem to have really garnered any upward momentum, and financial markets are from day to day uncertain,” he said. “Until that resolves, we have to be ready for a pretty modest level of economic activity.”

GM is set to report second-quarter results in the coming weeks. Major automakers, including GM, will report July auto sales in early August.

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