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Embassy doubts over Saab's Chinese saviour

AFP/The Local · 5 May 2011, 14:04

Published: 05 May 2011 14:04 GMT+02:00

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"According to the embassy's experience (Hawtai's) official figures may be exaggerated," Sweden's ambassador to China Lars Freden wrote in a report to the foreign ministry obtained by the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) daily.

In a deal unveiled on Tuesday, Hawtai is set to inject €150 million ($223 million) into Saab through a partnership including joint ventures in manufacturing, technology and distribution.

Hawtai said it produced 81,000 cars last year and said it has the capacity to make 200,000 cars a year.

SvD said its own sources put Hawtai's production figure for last year at 60,000 cars.

The embassy's report also said although Hawtai has existed for 10 years, it has produced cars for only about a year.

It added Hawtai's parent company, Hengtong Group, derives most of its profits from mining, energy, telecommunications, infrastructure, banking and real estate.

"According to the embassy's source, Hawtai's financial strength comes from mining rather than carmaking," the report said, according to SvD, adding that "Hawtai has changed chief executive six times over the past eight years."

"Technology transfer is central to Hawtai's interest in Saab. For Saab's long-term competitiveness it is reasonably important that the company keep its integrity," ambassador Lars Freden wrote in the report.

Tuesday's deal, which plans for Hawtai to take a 29.9 percent stake in Saab's Dutch owner Spyker, came as a last minute lifeline for the cash-strapped Swedish brand.

Story continues below…

Saab halted production almost a month ago as suppliers halted deliveries over unpaid bills.

Swedish media reported that a Hawtai delegation visited Saab's plant in Trollhättan, in western Sweden. Production has not been restarted but Saab was to test-produce 15 to 20 cars Thursday.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

14:33 May 5, 2011 by Arcticeric
Victor has a knack for hooking up with folks like himself ... first a questionable Russian and now a questionable Chinese... a rat, oops, I mean rose by any other name is still a rat, oops again, rose...
15:35 May 5, 2011 by Jasper2
Assuming, and I will for the time being, that all of the facts stipulated in the article above (lack of experience, over stated production numbers etc.) are accurate, I guess that's why HAWTAI needs to partner with SAAB.

According to the embassy Hawtai's official figures may be exaggerated. What is "may" mean? Are they or are they not? "May" be the Ambassador is in error?

Tis' fortunate that HAWTAI have the finances to buy SAAB's support. Money is money from whence ere it comes.

I am not sure what the concern is.
16:06 May 6, 2011 by oneputt
What does it say for the Swedish government to throw Saab under the bus? Mr. Muller and Antonov have worked very hard to keep Saab going. This influx of capital and entrance into the fastest growing car market in the world, is nothiing but a positive. Keeping Saab alive should be the highest priority for the Ambassador. Keeping people working and now with another market, ripe for taking on a great car like Saab, should warrant glee, not pessimism. Saab's technology is first class, and with China needing the knowledge that Saab has of building first rate cars, should be a very positive for the people of Throllhattan. The Ambassador should be happy that Saab did this and apologize for his negatism.
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