Antonov pledges $100 million for Saab deal

Vladimir Antonov, the Russian businessman and backer of Spyker Cars, has pledged that he is ready to lend $100 million to the Dutch car maker in order to finance their takeover of Saab, according to details from an interview with news agency Reuters.

Antonov, who was forced to step aside as a condition of the takeover of Sweden’s Saab, confirmed to Reuters that the first instalment of $25 million to be paid to General Motors came from banks controlled by him.

He underlined furthermore that he would like to remain as a majority shareholder in Spyker Cars, which is working to secure the funds to complete the $74 million takeover.

To date Spyker CEO Victor Muller has been reticent on the details as to where the money for the takeover is due to come from. He has so far confirmed only that it is his firm Tenaci that will transfer the money, funded with further loans.

Vladimir Antonov is Spyker Cars largest shareholder with 30 percent of the shares. His Convers Group banking arm has provided loans amounting to 580 million kronor to the heavily indebted sports car maker, according to media reports.

In a Spyker press release issued at the beginning of February, Muller explained that Vladimir Antonov’s current shareholding of 4.6 million ordinary shares in Spyker has been bought by Tenaci – a holding firm directly owned by Victor Muller, “subject to the closing of the Saab acquisition.”

Muller also stated that Spyker’s debt mountain will be written over to Tenaci upon completion of the deal.

As the “Saab acquisition” is not set to be completed until July 15th, when the remaining instalment falls due, the Antonovs are set to remain in the picture for the foreseeable future. Vladimir Antonov’s latest comments indicate that his intentions extend beyond that point and that he remains closely linked to the deal.

The Local has previously reported that a Swedish government investigation into the dealings of the Russian Antonov family had caused the FBI to order GM to pull out of the deal in December. The troubled US car giant has been widely reported to hold a veto on the Antonovs’ involvement in Spyker-Saab.

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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.