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Questions remain over Saab financing

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17:28 CEST+02:00
There are still uncertainties regarding new financing arrangements for cash-strapped Swedish carmaker Saab despite Tuesday's announcement of a 'strategic partnership' with Chinese Hawtai Motor Group.

Several different authorities must first approve the deal and before production lines start rolling again in Trollhättan, the contracts with suppliers must be renegotiated.

The changes in ownership that have been suggested are still subject to approval from authorities in Beijing, Stockholm and Luxembourg.

So far the Swedish National Debt Office (Riksgälden) has opened up for part ownership of the cash strapped car giant from Russian financier Vladimir Antonov.

But that doesn't necessarily mean that other authorities will approve.

And it has no effect on the National Debt Office's attitude to the cash injections from Bahamas based Gemini Investment Fund Limited or Chinese auto giant Hawtai Motor Group.

The investments that are meant to save Saab, which consists of 1.9 billion Swedish kronor ($312.5 million) in total, are all convertible loans.

That means that the loan givers can cash in their claims against shares in the company at a later stage.

“The loan in itself does not require our approval. But if they (Hawtai) want to own more than 10 percent of Spyker Cars it will take the government's approval, and ours", said Daniel Barr of the National Debt Office.

The same rule applies to the convertible loan from Gemini.

On Wednesday the National Debt Office had not received any request for ownership approval from either Hawtai or Gemini.

The changes in ownership will also have to meet the approval of Chinese authorities, the Swedish government and the European Investment Bank (EIB).

“There is nothing new to say on the matter. We have no comment, “ said Pär Isaksson of the EIB information department.

The three largest Spyker owners will be Antonov, Hawtai and Victor Muller, the latter already a large shareholder and chairman of the group.

According to news agency TT, this will mean that Antonov and Muller, who together would hold a majority of the shares, would to all intents and purposes control the company.

But before Saab can start manufacturing cars again, the contracts with their suppliers must be renegotiated and this will take time, according to Svenåke Berglie, chairman of FKG, the trade association representing Scandinavian suppliers to the automotive industry.

“We are counting with at least two weeks until this can be completed, “ Berglie said.

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