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SAAB CASH CRISIS
Fresh questions raised over Saab finances

Fresh questions raised over Saab finances

Published: 13 Jul 2011 14:32 GMT+02:00
Updated: 13 Jul 2011 14:32 GMT+02:00

The future of cash-strapped Swedish automaker Saab remains uncertain after doubts emerged over the finances of potential investor Vladimir Antonov and the revelation that the company has substantial tax debts.

The central bank of Lithuania has accused the bank Snoras, co-owned by Russian financier Vladimir Antonov, of breaking the law and carrying out reckless lending.

This criticism could be what lies at the heart of the procrastination by the European Investment Bank (EIB) to make a final decision regarding Antonov’s future ownership in Saab Automobile, according to Sveriges Radio (SR).

At a meeting in January the board of directors from the Central Bank of Lithuania demanded that the bank, with Antonov as chairman, change their ways.

According to minutes from a meeting that SR has studied, the bank is violating Lithuanian law, isn’t handling trade with stocks and shares and has engaged in reckless lending.

The bank allegedly approved a significant loan to a Russian company, which had been declined by other banks.

But according to Antonov’s spokesperson in Sweden, Lars Carlström, there are other factors lurking behind the EIB’s reluctance to approve Antonov’s involvement in Saab.

“There is a hidden agenda in this matter in which the Swedish government is key. That’s what is hindering the process,” Carlström told the TT news agency.

He thinks that it is a question of prestige and politics.

“They have said no once and therefore want to prove themselves right. Inexplicably, they are willing to risk 10,000 jobs to gain prestige, which seems a bit odd,” Carlström said.

Saab’s cash troubles continue as the Swedish Tax authorities (Skatteverket) revealed on Wednesday that the company owes 34 million Swedish kronor ($5.2 million) in unpaid taxes. The monies owed, mainly in the form of VAT (moms) and payroll taxes, were supposed to have been paid in on Tuesday.

If the company fails to pay the tax agency by the beginning of August they will receive a recovery order from the agency.

If the monies owed still haven’t been paid by the end of the month, the matter will be referred to the Swedish Enforcement Authority (Kronofogden).

At the moment the Swedish Enforcement Authority are dealing with 93 claims against the beleaguered automaker.

TT/Rebecca Martin (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

21:59 July 13, 2011 by WooDz
And yet again The Local comes to the rescue and do their part to cast doubt on SAAB to the general public. Bravo.... Ms. Martin you must of got up early this morning to write this piece just so you could boast how the little Swedish company's taxes hadn't landed at the inland revenue. If you had waited just a few hours you could have called them to which they would have confirmed that payments had been made and the monies were on their account. Oh how quick the media has been to jump the gun and get the knife in again. Every heard of the saying "Loose words, sink ships"?

I'm sure your excuse will be that you have a duty to inform people of relevant news so does this mean The Local will be printing tomorrow "Saab proves financial stability in paying taxes on time"? Somehow I feel The Local just like all other media outlets will ignore their so called duty on printing the positive achievements of the Saab.

Although if you do I'm sure you will no doubt find something negative to write so just so other readers here can see how easy it to be journalist here's my "The Local" headline for tomorrow "Saab pays taxes but still can't pay suppliers". Yeah it really it that easy to shoot a company down.

Just remember folks: Everything you read in papers is true!
23:11 July 13, 2011 by countrysidedrive
I dont know call me crazy but SAAB is Sweden. Maybe SAAB should be saved for Sweden.
00:18 July 14, 2011 by jack sprat
@ WooDz

You need to get intouch with present day reality.

We are all aware of the proud reputation Saab has built up over the years.

That does not alter the fact that whats left of it, is now desperately grasping at the final few straws and when you consider who is holding those straws it does not inspire much hope or confidence.

It's been painfully obvious all along that the buyers had their own hidden agenda from day one and the Swedish govt and General motors were rightfully always very suspicious of their true intentions.

Time has already confirmed those suspicions to be well justified.

To my mind it was apparent from day one that the would be buyers didn't care a toss about Saabs future in Sweden or that of its workforce.
02:04 July 14, 2011 by millionmileman
This doom and gloom is hurting SAAB's reputation. This is the future of Swedish workers at stake. Sometimes it's like talking to the wall.
02:27 July 14, 2011 by repat_xpat
> WooDz. Its "loose LIPS sink ships."

Al Capone was busted not for the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre but for tax evasion. Victor Antonov may find themselves on the same road.
08:48 July 14, 2011 by WooDz
@ Jack Sprat

I guess you find it perfectly acceptable for the Swedish press to constantly print allegations and misleading facts. I'm fully aware of the misfortunes of SAAB over that past 2 years. A company that should be rivaling BMW but instead was used to develop GM vehicle to the point that although the new Insignia was 80% developed SAAB, thus effectively making it a rebadge, people think SAAB have no IP or engineering skills of their own. Why? Because keep telling them that.

It's amazing the people see it is painfully obvious that the buyers had a hidden agenda, yet for some reason don't get to read about a man flying around the world setting up deal after deal to keep the company afloat. I bet you think your taxes are at risk don't you? Let me make it very clear about the SAAB situation. The only way your tax money will be it risk is if SAAB goes bankrupt and approximately 10 - 15,0000 Swedish employees associated to SAAB loose their jobs. So all this rubbish about the Swedish government no wanting to risk tax payers money is just that; rubbish.

Instead of the press trying to kick SAAB into the ground and turn Trollhättan into a ghost town, maybe they should be asking why the government and the EIB has delayed actions that is bleeding the company dry due to nil production.

It's such a shame to see that the power of the press has most people thinking SAAB is being run by criminals and tax evaders. Repat_xpat's comment about Al Capone only underlines the fact. Obviously he/she forgot to read the rest of my above comment that SAAB has paid their taxes and the money is on the account.
10:15 July 14, 2011 by NorwegianRune
@ Jack Sprat:

"Obvious"? It is so obvious, so you do not have to provide any references to back up your statements?

As WooDz says, the Saab EIB loan is no direct threat to the taxpayers money. The risk is associated with the jobs that will be lost while the Swedish government takes their sweat time meddling with Saab's ownership structure. Publicly they seem to approve of Antonov, but behind the curtains they actively work against him. Meanwhile the company is in limbo.
12:44 July 14, 2011 by WooDz
@ Jack Sprat:

Hold on; so I have to back up my statements about the press writing "With SAAB, HUMMER, Pontiac and Saturn now no-longer with us or sold", or "The new 9-5 based on GM's Opel Insignia", or "Antonov who has been alleged by the Swedish press to be connected with organized crime". Yet; you don't have to back your statements about (and I quote) "It's been painfully obvious all along that the buyers had their own hidden agenda from day one and the Swedish govt and General Motors were rightfully always very suspicious of their true intentions."

First up why are talking about the situation in past tense meaning for you and the picture you wish to portray is "The deed has been done". However you don't actually explain what you think the hidden agenda Victor Muller has and the suspicions of GM and the Swedish Government. More to the point I don't really know the 'buyers' you are referring to. I think you might be trying to associate Antonov as a buyer, of which he is not. Secondly The Swedish NDO and GM has approved Antonov but the Swedish Government's stance is that they don't need to approve him all the time the EIB have not.

The EIB loan does not carry a risk to the tax-payer because it's levied against assets worth Nth times more than the loan. Yes Jack you are absolutely correct "The risk is associated with the jobs that will be lost while the Swedish government takes their sweat time meddling with Saab's ownership structure. Publicly they seem to approve of Antonov, but behind the curtains they actively work against him. Meanwhile the company is in limbo." The company sits in limbo whilst Muller races around the world setting up deals with Chinese companies who are paying for vehicles 'up front' to help get production up and running again. There is no denying the grave situation SAAB is in right now but one should really think about how they got there. It certainly wasn't Muller helping himself to the till but more precisely the press writing that Antonov should not be trusted, that Muller can't meet yearly targets, that they write that SAAB is dead, or on its last legs, or not worth buying their cars, or haven't paid their taxes when in actual fact they have.

Quite frankly I don't get why people feel that car companies like Hyundai that just buy off the peg components are a more of a worthy business than SAAB. Or what makes Infinity or Lexus so much better than SAAB? Why should GM be allowed to push OPEL into the premium segment as when, if wasn't for SAAB their product wouldn't be good or safe enough to start doing so.

Nice to see you'd rather read a load pap from people who for years hardly ever wrote anything about SAAB and sit back and watch them bury yet another piece of Swedish Heritage. With so little patriotism it's no wonder that the German brands hold the top P3 slots. Well done Sweden, you truly have lost your great viking spirit.
01:46 July 15, 2011 by repat_xpat
Woodz,

Lots of words, but the bottom line is that a 9-5 is 10k more than the Insignia and / or the Buick. There are not enough people who love SAAB so much to be willing to lose 10K just for the nameplate. The reason it is 10K more is because it cost more to build in Trollhattan than any other GM facility in the world. The math is simple: SAAB must either offer more or charge less.
09:15 July 15, 2011 by WooDz
No only is the OPEL cheaper it's smaller too, However as for expensive Swedish labour costs that's not true. Saab lost the chance to build Epsilon II based vehicles to Rüsselsheim, however won the deal to build Delta future based vehicles until GM. As a premium vehicle larger the the A6 and the 5-series, the 9-5 still comes out cheaper and where as it isn't a match for the top performance BMWs, the engines that SAAB do offer are very competitive. You don't have to take my word for it though, go drive a 2012 model yourself and I think you'll be surprised just how good the new car drives and how well equipped it is compared to other premium brands.
01:27 July 16, 2011 by repat_xpat
-->> I agree with your kind words for GMPT's great engines.

I have driven the 9-5. I drove it at the MPG in 2009. The Opel & Buick too. Personally I would buy the Buick. I like it better and its less expensive.
01:19 July 17, 2011 by Just_Kidding
@Woodz: "what makes Infinity or Lexus so much better than SAAB? "

Better customer experience.
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