Sweden agrees to guarantee Saab loan

The Swedish government notified the European Commission on Monday that it was prepared to guarantee the 4 billion kronor ($570 million) loan that troubled automaker Saab is seeking from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Sweden agrees to guarantee Saab loan

The move helps keep the planned sale of the General Motors (GM) unit on track, although a government official cautioned Sweden’s readiness to provide state guarantees doesn’t mean the EIB loan is assured.

“It’s now up to the Commission to assess Saab’s prospects for borrowing money. Just because we notified them doesn’t mean the deal is done,” said Jöran Hägglund, state secretary with the Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications (Näringsdepartementet), to the TT news agency.

But Hägglund added that the notification means that the government hopes the deal will go through.

“The deal is still alive for us. If we hadn’t believed in it, we wouldn’t have chosen to notify the Commission,” he said.

Saab wants to borrow 4 billion kronor from the EIB, but before it can, the European Commission must make sure the government’s guarantees don’t run afoul of EU rules on state supports for industry, and that the carmaker’s business isn’t at risk for insolvency, the Göteborgs-Posten (GP) newspaper reports.

If all is in order, the Commission will then signal its approval for the loan through a statement of “no objection”.

Saab is now awaiting the Commission’s decision.

“This is an important step along the way,” Saab’s state agency liaison Anne Petre told the newspaper.

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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.