Defence firm Saab returns to profitability

Loss-making Saab Automobile in Sweden, solely owned by General Motors, is best known for its mid-range cars, and has been up for sale. The prospective buyer is Spyker Cars in Holland, producer of tailored luxury cars.

Defence firm Saab returns to profitability

But Saab is a split constellation. The separate Saab military products company, best known for fighter jets, is 100 percent controlled by other financial interests.

The company posted a pretax profit of 461 million kronor ($65 million) in the final quarter of last year, with annual sales of 23 billion kronor, it announced at the weekend. Saab posted a 1 billion kronor loss for the equivalent period in 2008.

The actual quarterly profit was less than expected by markets, and saw the shares dip at the weekend by 13.5 percent. Even so, the company said it would sharply increase dividends to shareholders.

Saab is best known in the financial world for military products rather than cars. The biggest single shareholder is BAE Systems in Britain, global supplier of military products. Another major shareholder is Investor owned by Sweden’s influential Wallenberg family.

Saab was not the only Swedish company posting profits at the weekend. The mining and mineral company Boliden announced profits of 1.1 billion kronor in the final quarter of last year, on annual sales of 8.3 billion during the year. The company proposed a 300 percent dividend increase, from one krona to three per share.

Despite the deep recession, the Swedish Central Bank (Riksbanken) on Friday posted profits of 5.8 billion kronor in 2009 that it said would be dispatched to the government. This was probably welcome news. In addition to offering a guaranteed loan of 5.5 billion kronor to Saab Automobile, the government was expected to shortly hand over around 1 billion kronor to ailing Scandinavian Airlines Systems (SAS) in which it owns 21.4 percent of shares. A few months ago the Government granted a similar sum to SAS.

The airline is jointly owned by the governments of Sweden, Denmark and Norway, along with private interests.

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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.