Mystery Saturn "Investors" Enable Dealer Denial

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
mystery saturn investors enable dealer denial

Saturn dealers, customers, managers, assembly workers, The Presidential Task Force on Automobiles, what’s left of General Motors and the mainstream media (MSM) would all like to believe there’s life after GM for the moribund “rethink” brand. A group of investors calling themselves Telesto Ventures has stepped forward to enable these champagne wishes and caviar dreams. Their plan: rebrand other people’s stuff and sell them as Saturns. It’s the same sort of plan that saw Americanized Opels in Saturn showrooms—that led to a 58 percent sales drop so far this year, compared to 2008’s miserable 188,004. (Toyota sold 158,884 Priora last year.) It was also a part of Cerberus’ original plan for the bankruptcy-bound Chrysler Corporation. Anyway, the MSM’s down with Saturn’s “rescue.” “While such a business model doesn’t exist today,’ the Detroit Free Press almost warns, ‘Telesto’s backers say the global overcapacity among automakers and the growing number of start-up firms in China and elsewhere would give the reformulated Saturn several possible sources of new vehicles.” Gullible much?

Finding automakers to work with “is not a tremendous concern,” said John Pappanastos, a group spokesman. “It would allow manufacturers not in the United States to launch without incurring the largest expense they would otherwise face, setting up a distribution network.”

Even if you buy this entirely dubious proposition, it raises one important question: Who the hell is Telesto Ventures and why should we believe a word they say? (Google is not my friend.) It’s a question whose primacy seems to have evaded the MSM. Automotive News dances around the issue.

Telesto spokesman John Pappanastos says his group is in discussions with several unnamed foreign manufacturers.

He says Telesto includes a private equity firm, Black Oak Partners LLC, based in Oklahoma City, and several other investors. It’s not clear how much money is backing Telesto and what auto experience the group has.

In the blogosphere, however, writers condemned by professional journalists as “some guy in a basement with a computer” have flagged the flaw in the “private equity saves Saturn” meme.

PE (Private Equity) Database sounds the alarm.

Big press release today regarding strong interest in General Motors’ Saturn unit by“investor group” Telesto Ventures, a consortium of sorts which includes “private equity firm” Black Oak Partners. What’s not being mentioned however, are any specific details on the two groups. The web generally provides a treasure trove of info, but this is the first time Black Oak or Telesto seems to be mentioned anywhere. It’ll be interesting to see if more details emerge on whose behind the names.

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  • Runfromcheney Runfromcheney on Apr 17, 2009

    Its GEO all over again. As a refresher, lets go over what happened with GEO. GEO was made in 1989 by Roger Smith as a cheap brand that sells rebadged imports. It was meant to strengthen GM's ties to foreign brands as well as a way to get sceptics back into GM showrooms. And since the cars had import style, handling, and quality (because they were imports), the stupid American public would start to think better of GM. It did none of that. Since GEOs were sold in Chevrolet showrooms, the GEO cars just competed with the Chevrolet cars that they sat across the lot from, and GEO was dissolved after the 1997 model year. So yeah, by going by history, turning Saturn into a GEO like venture is going to be a rousing success. /sarcasm

  • Wil Wil on Apr 27, 2009

    Would be interesting to see Tata air powered car in Saturn showrooms. Would give India a foothold in the US.

  • Raven65 This was basically my first car - although mine was a '76. My Dad bought it new to use as a commuter for his whopping 15-minute drive to work (gas is too expensive!) - but it was given to my sister when she left for college a couple of years later - and then she passed it down to me when I got my license in 1981. It was a base model... and I mean BASE... as in NO options. Manual 4-speed (no o/d) transmission, rubber floor (no carpet), no A/C, and no RADIO (though I remedied that within a week of taking ownership). Dad paid just over three grand for it. Mine was a slightly darker shade of yellow than this one (VW called it "Rallye Yellow") with the same black vinyl "leatherette" seat covers. Let me tell you, the combination of no A/C and that black vinyl interior was BRUTAL in the SC summers! Instrumentation was sparse to say the least, but who needs a tach when you have those cool little orange dots on the speedo to indicate redline in gears (one dot for redline in 1st gear, two dots for redline in 2nd gear, three for 3rd). LOL! It wasn't much, but it was MINE... and I LOVED it! It served me well through the remainder of high school and all the way through college and into my first "real job" where I started making actual money and finally traded it in on a brand new '89 Nissan 240SX. They gave me $300 for it!!!. I wish I still had it. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!
  • Analoggrotto Telluride is still better
  • Arthur Dailey So how much more unreliable is a 50 year old Italian made vehicle in comparison to a 5 year old Italian made vehicle? After 50 years wouldn't most of the parts and areas most prone to failure have been fixed, replaced and/or addressed?Asking for a friend? ;-)
  • Pig_Iron This is happy news for everyone in the industry. 🙂
  • Dukeisduke Globally-speaking, in August, BYD was the fourth best-selling brand name. They pushed Ford (which had been fourth) to sixth, behind Hyundai.