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'EIB behind Saab property deal delay'

'EIB behind Saab property deal delay'

Published: 21 Apr 2011 14:11 GMT+02:00
Updated: 21 Apr 2011 14:11 GMT+02:00

Beleaguered Swedish carmaker Saab Automobile remains in limbo pending confirmation of a deal to sell property holdings to raise cash, as the European Investment Bank (EIB) is seeking further assurances, according to a report in the Dagens Industri (DI) daily on Thursday.

The Swedish government last Friday gave its backing in principle to an agreement between Saab and the Convers Group, linked to the Russian financier Vladimir Antonov.

The news was greeted as indication that deal over the sale of Saab properties was close to completion but according to DI the EIB is reported to have reservations over the securities provided by Saab.

The deal to sell and lease back Saab properties, including its Trollhättan factory, was mooted as a means to raise much needed cash to pay off suppliers and restart production which has been suspended for a fortnight.

Daniel Barr at the Swedish National Debt Office (Riksgälden) has indicated that it is the EIB that has delayed its confirmation for the changes to the loans, for which the Swedish state stands as a guarantor.

"We have been playing the waiting game since last Tuesday," he said.

"The EIB has to confirm its decision to the company (Saab) and that has not yet happened. And if and when the EIB give their clearance, then all that remains is to sign the papers," Barr told TT.

Daniel Barr confirmed that the Saab deal has two parts - firstly the sale of properties to Convers and secondly the clearance of Vladimir Antonov as an owner of Saab.

Former Saab owner GM is also set to conduct an assessment of Antonov's suitability.

Antonov is however currently unavailable as he has travelled to South America.

Saab has been given no timescale as to when the EIB can make its decision on the loans.

"EIB has its internal processes. We, just like the Debt Office, remain in wait... The ball is in the EIB's court, but we don't know when this decision will come," Eric Geers at Saab said.

"It would be great if it could happen as quickly as possible, both for our employees and for our suppliers' sake. Whatever the decision, we have to find time to prepare. I find it hard to believe we can do all that we need to do before the Easter weekend," he said.

Saab's Dutch owner Spyker Cars, confirmed in a statement on Thursday, that the Debt Office has paved the way for the pay put of the outstanding portion of the EIB loan under the previous agreement.

Saab will however still only be able to borrow a total of €280 million ($410 million)

But Spyker also notes the deal for the sale of the properties remains in a precarious position, as he deal also requires the approval the EIB.

Spyker confirmed that it is looking forward to the approval of Vladimir Antonov as a Saab financier as well as an owner of the parent company Spyker Cars.

TT/The Local/pvs (news@thelocal.se)

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