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GM hoping for speedy sale and exit from Chapter 11 / Daley nephew's bad deal for pensions

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NEW YORK – General Motors Corp. took a key step toward its downsizing on Tuesday, striking a tentative deal to sell its Hummer brand, while also revealing that it has potential buyers for its Saturn and Saab brands. Detroit-based GM said it has reached a memorandum of understanding with a buyer for Hummer, though it did not name the buyer or the price. The automaker said the sale will likely save more than 3,000 U.S. jobs in manufacturing, engineering and at various Hummer dealerships. "We're not today in a position to be able to identify a buyer. It was part of the agreement," GM Chief Executive Fritz Henderson told CBS's "The Early Show." "We believe the buyer is quite capable of closing." As part of the proposed transaction, GM said, Hummer will continue to contract vehicle manufacturing and business services from GM during a transitional period. For example, under the proposed agreement, GM's Shreveport Assembly plant would continue to contract to assemble the H3 and H3T Hummers through at least 2010. The automaker also said Tuesday that it has 16 buyers interested in purchasing its Saturn brand, while three parties are interested in the Swedish Saab brand. Chief Financial Officer Ray Young told reporters and industry analysts on a conference call that GM is continuing to pursue manufacturing agreements with a new Saturn buyer. GM would like to sell the money-losing Saturn brand's dealership network, contracting with the new buyer to make some of its cars while the buyer gets other vehicles from different manufacturers. At the same time, bridge loan discussions with the Swedish government are progressing, Young said.

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