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'SAS had 10 days' worth of cash': Wallenberg

'SAS had 10 days' worth of cash': Wallenberg

Published: 29 Dec 2012 13:34 GMT+01:00
Updated: 29 Dec 2012 13:34 GMT+01:00

Scandinavian airlines SAS was on the brink of collapse in November, the company's board vice chair Jacob Wallenberg admitted in an interview on Saturday.

During a hectic week of negotiations last month, the airline was running out of cash and brought a bankruptcy lawyer into the boardroom for the last two days of talks with unions.

"We had enough cash to keep going for another 10 days," Wallenberg told broadsheet Dagens Nyheter (DN).

The dramatic events in November were preceded by months of planning in order to renegotiate the airline's loans.

But union representatives were not informed of all the details until October, a move which Wallenberg now defends.

"We knew that the day we would go public money would start bleeding out of the company. Future passengers would stop booking tickets and contractors would start demanding cash-in-hand."

Negotiations with Swedish, Norwegian and Danish unions lasted for one, intensive week after the airline announced plans to slash 3 billion kronor ($445 million) in costs.

The company also announced that at least 800 jobs would be cut in what SAS CEO Rickard Gustafson labelled "the final call" for the troubled airline.

"The banks demanded that all aircraft staff sign the deal, or else our loans would not be extended," said Wallenberg.

He said that the board was ready to file for bankruptcy and that a lawyer was therefore at hand during the negotiations.

Wallenberg dismissed the idea that the board painted a bleak picture of the company's troubles in order to scare the unions into submission.

"Had we not sealed the deal SAS would have folded and 15,000 employees would have lost their jobs. It would have been the largest bankruptcy case ever in Scandinavia," said Wallenberg.

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