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GM hires adviser to help sell Saturn

by Andrew Ganz

General Motors won't ever admit it, but it's hard to argue that the struggling Detroit automaker was not surprised with the level of interest it had from investors in its Saturn brand, which most analysts figured would be killed off quickly. The automaker says that the adviser it hired to evaluate and shop around Saturn will now help it go through with the sale of the unprofitable car line.

In a statement released earlier this morning, GM says it will retain the services of S.J. Girsky & Company, a firm it hired earlier this year to help evaluate what to do with Saturn. Grisky and GM "will look to secure an agreement with a specific buyer later this year," the automaker's statement said.

It seems that the strongest interest thus far has come from Oklahoma City-based Black Oak LLC, which says it would convert Saturn's 400 dealers into a department store-esque concept of independent dealers selling a variety of brands. An eventual focus would be on selling electric cars, according to Black Oak.

"Retailers have always been confined to selling a [manufacturer's] products," John S. Pappanastos, a spokesman for Black Oak, told the Dallas Morning News over the weekend. "What we're proposing is a power shift where dealers are free to choose the products they sell."

Though GM has said there are several parties interested in Saturn, none appears to have gained the traction Black Oak has.

"No one to our knowledge is as far along as we are," Pappanastos said.

Black Oak's CEO oversees two family-owned Saturn dealerships, which led him to approach GM about the brand as far back as November.

GM says that, with the help of the United States Treasury, it will have a decision made on Saturn's fate, most likely a buyer announcement, by the end of the third quarter of this year.