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SAAB

Saab production lines roll again

At exactly 9.17am on Monday, Saab Automobile's production director Gunnar Brunius cut the yellow ribbon to restart the production lines at the firm's Trollhättan factory.

Saab production lines roll again

The body of a new Saab 9-5 began the slow process towards the end of the line bearing the text Saab 001 to symbolise the new start after the recent takeover by Dutch Spyker Cars.

Spyker Cars CEO Victor Muller was on hand to receive a standing ovation among Saab staff.

Saab’s new dawn created a buzz of media interest and Victor Muller and Saab CEO Jan Åke Jonsson were obliged to repeat their obligatory handshake over the bonnet of the new 9-5.

Jessica Karlsson, one of the fitters assigned to the first vehicle, has worked for Saab since 1996 and there were times that she thought she had built her last car.

“Yes, everybody thought so the way the situation was looking. But this is a moment we have really been waiting for and look forward to. It will be fun to get going again,” she said.

Many of the Saab employees bore a badge with the simple message “I love Saab.”

“All the assembly line employees have returned to work,” Peter Backström said from Saab’s plant in Trollhättan, which employs about 3,400 people.

Production had been suspended since the end of January on orders from General Motors (GM), which started to wind-down its loss-making Swedish brand in December after failing to find a suitable buyer.

But a last-minute deal was clinched on January 26th between GM and Spyker, a minnow in the car industry, rescuing the Swedish brand from closure.

Production consists mostly of the Saab 9-3 model, and of a few cars of the 9-5 model, a new higher-range model the carmaker is currently launching, Backström said.

Spyker said it hoped to produce 50,000 to 60,000 cars this year, but production of 100 vehicles per day would yield only 36,500 cars.

The new owner hopes Saab will eventually return to its former production volume of between 100,000 and 125,000 vehicules per year and be profitable by 2012.

During the 20 years it was owned by GM, Saab never turned a profit.

Last year, the Trollhättan plant rolled out 38,756 vehicules, against around 93,000 in 2008, according to company figures.

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CARS

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.