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'All hope is not lost for Saab': official

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'All hope is not lost for Saab': official
07:50 CET+01:00
The head of Saab Automobile, Jan Åke Jonsson, confirmed that General Motors (GM) is actively looking for new owners for the company's Swedish division, following a meeting with GM management on Monday.

“Absolutely! Absolutely. We were all caught unawares when Koenigsegg jumped off last week. But myself, the government and GM are working very hard to find an alternative, a quick solution,” Jonsson told the TT news agency.

He would not say how he thinks the board of GM will vote, but he is sure that a decision about Saab's fate will come following the board's meeting on Tuesday.

“Now we've made sure that everyone has the same information; that all the facts are on the table. Then we'll have to see what sort of proposals the GM board puts forward,” said Jonsson.

State secretary Jöran Hägglund from the Swedish industry ministry added that there is a chance the beleaguered Swedish brand will survive.

“All hope is not lost for Saab, just like all hope wasn't lost last week,” he told TT.

He was satisfied with the meetings he and the rest of the delegation from Sweden had with the GM board of directors, but refused to say whether he was more optimistic about Saab's future before or after the meeting.

“We had a good conversation. There was a really good tone. Now we'll see how long it lasts. It's GM that owns Saab, and it's GM that owns the process.”

According to Hägglund, the GM board members were “receptive”.

“We described carefully what we have in the Swedish toolbox,” he said, alluding primarily to the loan guarantees and publicly financed research programme currently on offer by the Swedish state.

Hägglund added that there will be “many different meetings with different buyers” in the United States, but he would not reveal who the prospective buyers are.

“We'll have reason to comment on that in due time. What I'm saying is that all hope is not lost,” he said.

Saab CEO Jonsson also refrained from commenting on who he planned to meet while in Detroit, or even if he would be accompanied by Swedish government representatives.

His goal, regardless of the buyer, is to try to keep Saab's manufacturing base in Trollhättan in western Sweden.

“Our business plan is based on concentrating all manufacturing in Sweden. We're working hard to find a solution,” he said.

Nevertheless, tensions in Trollhättan were running high on Tuesday morning in anticipation of a decision from the GM board that will likely decide the fate of the town's nearly 4,000 Saab employees.

“Uncertainty is the worst,” said Anette Hellgren, local representative for the Unionen labour group, to TT.

“Today we want to have a decision.”

Hellgren explained that the head of Unionen, Cecilia Fahlberg, plans to visit the union's Trollhättan members on Tuesday.

“We need to have a decision about how the future will look. It's not good for our employees or our products when things drag on so long,” she said.

Despite her anxiety, Hellgren added that she is “happy” that discussions about Saab's future continue and that prospective buyers remain interested in the company.

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