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Saab production halted 'until further notice'

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Saab production halted 'until further notice'
14:20 CEST+02:00
The problems faced by cash-strapped Swedish carmaker Saab continued on Wednesday with the firm advising that due to delivery problems production has been halted until further notice.

All production at Saab's factory in Trollhättan in western Sweden ground to a halt on Wednesday after days of intermittent production due to parts shortages, with several suppliers complaining of unpaid bills.

"We can't carry on with this stop-and-go, we have to stop now and solve all the problems with the suppliers. We are working hard on financing issues," Saab Automobile's information head Eric Geers told news agency TT on Wednesday.

The decision has been announced after production at the firm's plant was halted on Tuesday for the third time in a week. The production stoppage is expected to last for several days at least, according to several media reports.

"We can't say how long," Eric Geers said.

Employees will remain at the factory for the duration of the stoppage, the firm has announced.

"They have some quality training work to do," Geer said.

When asked whether Saab could have better managed its information regarding its cashflow problems and delivery interruptions, Geer responded:

"In hindsight all can re-write history. But there are rules which we have to follow."

Saab owner Spyker Cars is listed on the Amsterdam stock exchange and thus follows information rules stipulated in The Netherlands.

Spyker head and stand in Saab CEO Victor Muller described the problems at Saab this week 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."

While he waved off the continual production interruptions over the past two weeks, Muller did conceded that he regretted setting out ambitious sales targets for Saab, 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.

Swedish business daily Dagens Industri reported on Wednesday that the Russian has been in contact with five major European banks seeking loans of 3.6 billion kronor ($570 million) with a view to replacing the EIB loan.

"The EIB loan needs to be settled by a loan which is not controlled politically. As it is now the EIB and the National Debt Office have secured Saab's assets as security for the loan," a spokesperson for Vladimir Antonov told the newspaper.

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