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Antonov gets green light for Saab stake

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Antonov gets green light for Saab stake
14:21 CEST+02:00
Russian financier Vladimir Antonov has received approval from former Saab Automobile owner General Motors (GM) to become a part owner of troubled Swedish automaker.

Sweden's National Debt Office (Riksgälden) has also announced that it has no objections to Antonov acquiring an ownership stake in Saab.

"We haven't found any reason to deny Antonov going in as a part owner in Spyker," said Debt Office head Bo Lundgren.

Part of the reason the Debt Office's review of Antonov took so long was the agency's desire to examine the many rumours about his background.

"There have been a lot of rumours floating around which have led us to do this type of investigation. But we haven't found anything to indicate that he's inappropriate as an owner," said Lundgren.

"When you talk to him, it's clear he has a genuine interest in Saab."

On March 29th, Saab and its current owner Spyker Cars asked the Debt Office for permission to allow Antonov to invest a maximum of €30 million ($45 million), equating to a maximum of 29.9 percent of the votes in Spyker.

The Debt Office has now handed the matter back to the Swedish government, which must now make its own decision in the matter.

While GM issued a statement on Thursday giving its preliminary approval to Antonov as a part-owner of Saab, the US automaker included a number of conditions Saab must fulfill.

According to GM, it remains in active discussions with the European Investment Bank (EIB) and has reached a preliminary agreement with Saab that would give Antonov a stake in the company.

But the agreement will require "certain specific measures" from Saab's side which have yet to be carried out.

In addition, certain "formal approvals, acknowledgements, and permissions" which Saab has not yet received, GM spokesperson told the TT news agency in a statement.

GM's approval of Antonov is expected to pave the way for the EIB to allow Saab to sell its factories to the Russian mogul for 270 million kronor ($44.6 million) and then rent the facilities back to the auto company.

The Debt Office and the Swedish government have already approved the deal, which is expected to help Saab overcome lingering financial problems.

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