No deal with Spyker due to Russian owner

A insider source with information about the Saab closure claims that US car maker General Motors did not sell its Swedish unit to Dutch Spyker due to concern about too many inconsistencies surrounding Russian joint owner Vladimir Antonov.

No deal with Spyker due to Russian owner

Through his company Convers Group, Antonov owns around 30 percent of Spyker and is thought to have propped up the auto manufacturer through the supporting purchases of cars.

General Motors has taken the first steps towards closing Saab Automobile. “This was an extremely surprising and very unfortunate decision,” said Sweden’s enterprise minster Maud Olofsson during a press conference in Trollhätten, where Saab’s headquarters are located, following the announcement from GM.

She emphasized that the decision was made by GM. “GM is Saab’s owner and GM could have done a lot more for Saab during all of these years,” she said.

“The government has tried to make it attractive as possible to be here in Trollhättan. Now we must help of the employees and the municipality with future savings.”

Olofsson has called for a meeting on Monday with the affected local authorities, as well as trade union and company representatives, to assess the situation. She once again reiterated that the Swedish government will not step in to save Saab.

According to John Smith, vice chairman of the GM’s board, GM realised on Friday afternoon that is was impossible to save the Swedish auto manufacturer, and that therefore was no reason to wait until next year to make a decision, as had previously been promised.

“Sometimes it just doesn’t work,” Smith told TT news agency.

He said that the goal is to shut down operations as quickly as possible. New investors are not being sought. “We have investigated all possibilities,” the vice chairman said.

Smith reported that the GM has a ballpark figure for the cost of shutting down Saab, but declined to say how much. He blamed the car industry as a whole for the failure.

He declined to comment on questions regarding GM’s responsibility as an owner. “We have tried to integrate Saab into GM in order to create quality products. But we have been unsuccessful for a variety of reasons. We have tried,” Smith 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.