Updated with comments from GM executive



) --

General Motors

said Tuesday that it will sell its Saab unit to tiny

Spyker Cars

of Holland, in a deal that quickly gained the approval of the Swedish government.

GM will receive $74 million in cash and $326 million in preferred shares in a new company, Saab Spyker. By 2013, GM can begin to redeem the shares, GM said Tuesday.

The deal requires regulatory, government and court approvals, one of which came Tuesday, when the Swedish government agreed to guarantee a $500 million loan, said John Smith, GM vice president for corporate planning and alliances, on a conference call with reporters. The deal is expected to close in mid-February.

GM's shares will be redeemable commencing 2013, or earlier at Saab Spyker's option. The Russian-controlled Converse Group, which reportedly owns 30% of Spyker, is not directly involved in the Saab purchase, Smith said. It is believed that the planned sale of Opel was canceled partially due to concerns over Russian acquisition of GM proprietary technology.

Smith said the existing Saab dealer network would be retained, at least initially. Warranties will continue to be honored during the transition phase and will be taken over by Saab Spyker.

No guarantees have been offered regarding the future of the 3,500 employees working in Trollhattan, the birthplace of Saab. But with the new 9-5 luxury car due to commence production in April, immediate changes are unlikely.

GM will continue to supply powertrains and some other engineering services. The upcoming 9-4X, based on the same platform as the new Cadillac SRX, will also be supplied to Saab and is expected to become an important part of the new Saab vehicle line.

Reported by Gavin Magor in Jupiter, Fla., and Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

Gavin Magor is the senior analyst responsible for assigning financial-strength ratings to insurance companies. He conducts industry analysis and supports consumer products. Magor has more than 22 years of international experience in operations and credit-risk management, commercial lending and analysis. His experience includes international assignments in Sweden, Mexico, Brazil and the U.S. He holds a master's degree in business administration from The Open University in the U.K.