Spyker chief opens door to Russian owner

Spyker CEO Viktor Muller has declared that he would welcome the return of controversial Russian financier Vladimir Antonov to the firm, which recently announced the takeover of Sweden's Saab Automobile.

Despite media reports suggesting the Swedish Security Service (Säpo) had found links with organized crime, Vladimir Antonov was close to becoming a shareholder in Saab until the US FBI put a stop to his involvement.

Viktor Muller was then obliged to present a plan for the buying out of the Russian businessmen from Spyker to enable the purchase of Saab from General Motors to be approved by the Swedish and US governments.

In an interview with the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper, Muller has said Vladimir Antonov intends to prove that the accusations against him are false and that he expects the Russian to return to the company as a shareholder.

“Of course he is welcome back. He has been a fantastic support for the company,” Viktor Muller told SvD.

Antonov however has an agreement with General Motors whereby he can not return to Spyker without the prior consent of the US car firm. This has widely been reported to have been a concession to a demand forwarded by the FBI.

The Local reported at the end of last week that two of the key remaining pieces of the puzzle required to complete the takeover of the troubled Swedish car maker had fallen into place.

On Friday the European Investment Bank gave the all clear for the completion of a €400 million ($546 million) loan to Saab Automobile and agreed that the loan would be guaranteed by the Swedish state.

Earlier on Friday Spyker shareholders voted to approve the purchase of Saab Automobile from General Motors.

Spyker and GM reached a deal in January for the sale of Saab for $74 million

in cash and about $326 million worth of redeemable preferred shares to be retained by the American giant.

Saab’s future had been in doubt throughout 2009 as GM, itself going through bankruptcy, radically restructured its business and tried to sell off what it saw as non-core and unprofitable assets.

Spyker, a minnow in the global auto industry, manufactured 21 cars in the first quarter of 2009 and sold 23. It has a workforce of about 90 assembly workers while Saab has 3,400 employees in Sweden alone.

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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.