European bank approves Saab loan request

Saab Automobile has received permission to borrow 4 billion kronor from the European Investment Bank, the bank’s board revealed on Wednesday.

European bank approves Saab loan request

Prior to Wednesday’s meeting, most indications were that the EIB board, which includes representatives from all 27 European Union members states, would approve Saab’s request.

The EIB leadership group had recommended to the board that the bank agree to lend the Swedish car company up to €400 million, or roughly 4.1 billion kronor ($590 million), having concluded that Saab’s application was sufficiently strong.

The loan is a critical lifeline for Saab, and was a key element for the planned takeover of the company by the Koenigsegg Group.

“It wasn’t totally unexpected. It was an incredibly important step for Saab’s future. Without the loan, it would have been a nonstarter,” Jöran Hägglund, a state secretary with Sweden’s industry ministry, told the TT news agency.

The money, mainly targeted at cleaner and more fuel-efficient production, marks a huge step towards the purchase of Saab from its US parent company General Motors by Swedish sports car maker Koenigsegg and Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co Ltd (BAIC).

“The loan will be used for research and development activities for the improvement of fuel efficiency and safety including new tooling for the production of cleaner and safer cars, subject to the European Commission’s approval of the Swedish state guarantee,” said a statement by the EIB.

Stockholm has repeatedly refused to take a stake in Saab, but Koenigsegg had asked the Swedish government — unconvinced about its business plan — to act as a guarantor.

Koenigsegg had been short 3 billion kronor to complete the acquisition of Saab first announced in June, though the total purchase price has never been disclosed.

Saab employs 3,400 people in Sweden alone and sold just over 93,000 cars worldwide in 2008.

Koenigsegg Group, founded in 1994, has just 45 employees and produces 18 high-end sports cars a year at more than a million euros ($1.4 million) each.

Under GM’s stewardship, Saab rarely posted a profit and last year lost 3 billion kronor.

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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.