Saab seeks to allay financial health fears

Swedish carmaker Saab and its Dutch owner Spyker took steps on Monday to reassure investors that the future is based on solid financial ground.

Saab seeks to allay financial health fears

Spyker head and Saab stand-in CEO Victor Muller described the current problems as “a small glitch.”

“Saab is not on the verge of collapse,” Muller told reporters at a presentation of new Saab models in the Stockholm suburb of Nacka, calling media reports about Saab’s financial problems “disproportionate.”

Saab — which Spyker rescued at the last minute in January 2010 by buying it from US auto giant General Motors — was forced to stop production three times last week as some suppliers halted deliveries over unpaid bills.

The production stops were only “a small glitch” said Muller, quoted by Dow Jones Newswires.

He also said he regretted setting out sales targets for Saab after purchasing the iconic brand for $400 million, saying it was now getting “hammered” by the press for not meeting its objectives.

Saab chief executive Jan-Åke Jonsson, who unexpectedly announced last

month he would be stepping down in May, meanwhile stressed he saw “the

situation improving shortly.”

Russian businessman Vladimir Antonov — a former Spyker shareholder who GM has prevented from taking a stake in Saab — put in a request to Sweden’s National Debt Office last week to invest in the carmaker.

The authority, which has a say in ownership changes because it guaranteed a European Investment Bank (EIB) loan to Saab, said it would give its answer in a few weeks.

Antonov has said he was ready to invest €50 million ($70 million) in Saab and wants to take a 30 percent stake in the company.

It also emerged on Monday that Victor Muller had increased his income from Spyker from 2.1 million kronor in 2009 to 5.4 million kronor in 2010 following the purchase of Saab, according to report in the Swedish business daily Dagens Industri.

Furthermore Muller received a bonus of around 4.5 million kronor and 120,000 shares, worth an additional 4.5 million kronor.

Over the same period that Muller’s remuneration more than doubled, Saab recorded losses of around 1.95 billion kronor.

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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.