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SAAB

‘GM must outline plans for Saab’: Sweden

A Swedish government official has said the country will not pay out state credit guarantees from General Motors until Saab's US owner can present a more credible business plan for its Swedish subsidiary.

'GM must outline plans for Saab': Sweden

“We have asked for … a more credible business plan that outlines the development over the next few years based on a scenario where sales continue to decrease and the measures needed to combat that,” Jöran Hägglund, state secretary in the ministry of enterprise, told Swedish public radio.

“That’s a prerequisite for moving forward in the talks about credit guarantees,” he said.

Hägglund said talks were ongoing with both GM and Saab.

The Swedish centre-right government in December presented a 28 billion kronor ($3.5 billion dollar) package to help the country’s beleaguered automotive sector, including carmakers Saab and Volvo which is owned by US automaker Ford.

Of that sum, 20 billion kronor are earmarked for state credit guarantees “for raising loans (from) the European Investment Bank for conversion to green technology.”

Hägglund said GM had two weeks to present a new plan.

“A decision on whether or not the state is prepared to provide guarantees is about two or three weeks away,” he said.

The Swedish government said in mid-January it expected to European Investment Bank to make its decision in early March.

Both Saab and Volvo are in dire economic straits, but Saab is seen as being the one with the most serious woes, with an ageing product range and soaring costs.

Its owner GM is also the hardest hit of the three US carmakers by the global economic crisis.

Hägglund met with the heads of Ford and GM in Detroit on January 12 and said afterward the two were committed to cooperating with the Swedish state.

He made no comments about Volvo’s situation in Tuesday’s radio interview.

Both Ford and GM announced in early December that they planned to sell Volvo and Saab.

CARS

Former Swedish Saab bosses appear in court

Swedish car maker Saab's former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson and the firm's former head lawyer Kristina Geers have appeared in court in Vänersborg in west Sweden, accused of falsifying financial documents shortly before the company went bankrupt in 2011.

Former Swedish Saab bosses appear in court
Saab's former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson. Photo: Karin Olander/TT
The pair are accused of falsifying the paperwork at the height of the Swedish company's financial difficulties at the start of the decade.
 
A third person – who has not been named in the Swedish media – is accused of assisting them by issuing false invoices adding up to a total of 30 million kronor ($3.55m).
 
According to court documents, the charges relate to the firm's business in Ukraine and the paperwork in question was signed just before former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson resigned.
 
Both Jonsson and Saab's former head lawyer Kristina Geers have admitted signing the papers but denied knowledge of the Ukranian firm implicated in the case.
 
All three suspects deny all the charges against them.
 

Saab's former head lawyer Kristina Geers. Photo:  Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT
 
Saab filed for bankruptcy at the end of 2011, after teetering on the edge of collapse for nearly two years.
 
Chief prosecutor Olof Sahlgren told the court in Vänersborg on Wednesday that the alleged crimes took place in March 2011, when Saab was briefly owned by the Dutch company Spyker Cars.
  
It was eventually bought by National Electric Vehicle Sweden (Nevs), a Chinese-owned company after hundreds of staff lost their jobs.
 
The car maker, which is based in west Sweden, has struggled to resolve serious financial difficulties by attracting new investors since the takeover.
 
In October 2014 it announced it had axed 155 workers, close to a third of its workforce.
 
Since 2000, Saab automobile has had no connection with the defence and aeronautics firm with the same name. It only produces one model today, the electric 9-3 Aero Sedan, mainly targeting the Chinese market.