Olofsson confirms Fiat’s interest in Saab

Sweden’s enterprise minister Maud Olofsson confirmed on Wednesday that Fiat is one of several bidders interested in purchasing Saab Automobile from US-based General Motors.

“I have stated that there are several interested parties which could be a good fit, of which Fiat is one,” Olofsson told the TT news agency.

“My primary focus is for jobs to remain in Sweden. They need to present the sort of business plan which shows that they can do so.”

Olofsson has yet to review plans from all potential bidders and she emphasized she had no plans to give any preliminary indications about possible loan guarantees until the purchase of Saab had been completed.

“It’s only after we have a new owner for Saab that we have the ability to take a position on loan guarantees. As I’ve said before, taxpayers should not own car factories,” she said.

While she admitted she’s been accused of taking a hard line with automakers, Olofosson also rejected criticism that Sweden hasn’t done enough to support its domestic auto industry.

“Many countries say they’ve done a lot, but if you scrape beneath the surface of what they’ve done, it’s not all that much,” she told TT, adding that the governments of Germany, Belgium, the UK, and the United States had also placed tough demands on automakers seeking public assistance.

According to Olofsson, news that GM is getting closer to seeking Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States is proof that the Swedish government was right to reject calls for support from the US automaker.

“We’re lucky that Sweden and the Swedish government didn’t invest a lot of money in GM because that would have meant all our money would be in the United States,” she said.

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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.