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Saab debts top 'several hundred million'

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Saab debts top 'several hundred million'
16:43 CEST+02:00
As production at Swedish carmaker Saab remains on hold due to unpaid bills, a trade association representing auto industry suppliers has claimed that the firm's debts exceed several hundred million kronor.

Saab's Trollhättan factories have lain silent since last Tuesday when the firm announced that production was being halted until further notice as the beleaguered company battles to find a solution to its cash shortage.

While the Saab leadership has sought to play down the crisis, Svenåke Berglie, chair of Fordonskomponentgruppen (FKG), a trade association representing Scandinavian auto industry suppliers, argues that the firm has substantial outstanding debts.

"If you add the foreign suppliers, which are the majority, then it's definitely about several hundred million," Berglie told Reuters.

No cars have been manufactured at Saab's factory in Trollhättan for over a week, the production lines remain stationary and the premises are empty.

On Wednesday morning employees were told that they could stay at home on Thursday as well.

The company on Tuesday promised that it would produce further information regarding the search for new financing at the latest on Thursday.

Russian financier Vladimir Antonov who provided a portion of the funds to secure the purchase of Saab from US GM in 2010, remained upbeat over the prospects of the highly indebted company.

"A brilliant deal," was how Antonov's spokesperson in Sweden, Lars Carlström, described the firm.

"But one should not belittle the damage that the firm has suffered recently," Carlström said.

That other potential investors were unable to see the potential of Saab surprised Carlström.

"In 2008, Saab sold 133,000 cars with a ten-year-old model. Now there are three new models, none of which have been released. It should thus not be impossible to sell 100,000 cars and expand to 133,000 in a couple of years," he said.

Carlström confirmed that Vladimir Antonov had been hoping for some form of clarification over the situation on Wednesday.

"This situation must be eased as soon as possible," he said.

Neither was there any indication from the government revealing the process behind the scenes.

"The National Debt Office has been tasked and is working hard to help Saab to solve its problems," said Erik Bratt Hall, press secretary for enterprise minister Maud Olofsson.

"This was the case last week, over the weekend and will continue this week, of course. Saab wins nothing through speculation at this time," he said.

The National Debt Office confirmed only that the work for Saab's future was continuing with no indication of the timescale, nor further obstacles to be overcome.

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