Mike Stevens | Apr 16, 2009

An investor group known as Telesto Ventures, made up of private equity firm Black Oak Partners and a number of Saturn dealers, has made an official bid to buy the Saturn brand from ailing carmaker General Motors.

Rather than continue production and the import of existing Saturn models (many of which are sourced from GM Europe brand Opel), the group is planning to source and sell smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles from other manufacturers.

The plan is to ensure that the 384 Saturn dealerships are kept operating through to the end of 2011.

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The product strategy for the group will making it similar toa giant retail chain selling different brands and products. (Think of Harvey Norman or Best Buy, selling Dell, HP and Toshiba laptops side-by-side.)

The group would re-form the brand as the Saturn Distribution Company.

“There’s people out there that realize that Saturn is a valuable brand. It’s telling our customers that Saturn is going to be there in the long run,” Carl Galeana, owner of two Saturn dealerships in Detroit.

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GM has described the bid as a “very interesting” proposal, and a feasibility study has been kicked off to see if the deal would work out for all parties interested.

“With respect to what the eventual outcome concerning Saturn might be with Black Oak or any other interested party, it is simply premature at this time to speculate on what any eventual outcome may be,” GM said in a statement.

The General has been instructed by the US Government to thin out its brands if it wants aid from the White House, so whatever happens with this particular bid, Saturn is in the 'must go' basket.

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