Saab owner’s losses increase ten-fold

Swedish Automobile, the owner of troubled carmaker Saab, on Wednesday posted a huge first half loss and said it was still looking for funding to restart production.

Saab owner's losses increase ten-fold

Dutch-based Swedish Automobile, formerly known as Spyker, saw its six months to June loss rise nearly ten-fold to 201.5 million euros ($289 million) from 21.9 million for the same period in 2010.

According to an earnings statement, Saab in the second quarter only managed to build 1,989 cars — a 79-percent fall from the 9,497 built in the same period a year ago.

It had been widely expected that the owner of Saab, whose production has been halted for months as suppliers stopped deliveries over unpaid bills, would post disastrous results.

The company has been facing mounting bankruptcy threats and last week hinted bankruptcy protection was one option after it had to delay salary payments for the third month in a row when expected funds from investors failed to come through.

It said Wednesday that “securing additional funding, restarting production and stabilising operations (are a) top priority for management,” but did not indicate when the cash was expected or production could restart.

“It will come as no surprise that this has been an unbelievably tough quarter for this company. Nothing is worse than having to delay salary payments to your loyal employees and they deserve nothing less than my sincere apologies,” Swedish Automobile head Victor Muller said.

“Moreover, our ever tighter financial situation resulted in sustained production stoppages, lost revenues and a significantly increased operating loss,” he said.

He said the company’s business plan was “under review” as it negotiated to obtain more funding.

“We can’t look too far into the future just yet,” he acknowledged.

“We are evaluating all available option in order to secure continuity of Saab Automobile,” he added.

Over the last six months, Saab has signed deals with Chinese distributors Pang Da and Youngman, and entered a deal to sell and lease back its real estate, giving it access to liquidity.

But the cash has not been enough to restart production at its Trollhättan plant in southwestern Sweden and many Saab suppliers have been forced to lay off staff.

Muller rescued iconic Swedish brand Saab from the brink of bankruptcy in early 2010 when his company, then called Spyker, bought it from US giant GM.

The new owner had big ambitions for Saab but the carmaker has since lurched from one cash crisis to another.

At the end of July, Saab had 3,700 employees.

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Trollhättan remembers school attack victims

Hundreds of people on Saturday turned out for a torchlight procession in the small town of Trollhättan in southwestern Sweden to honour the victims of last year’s deadly school attack there.

Trollhättan remembers school attack victims
'It was an attack on all of Sweden,' Education Minister Gustav Fridolin said. Photo: Thomas Johansson/ TT

Three people were killed in an attack that shocked Sweden as a masked, sword-wielding assailant entered the school, stabbing students and teachers who appeared to be of foreign origin. Several people were also injured. The attacker, 21-year-old Anton Lundin Pettersson, was then shot dead by police.

“It was an attack on all of Sweden,” Education Minister Gustav Fridolin said as the procession ended outside the school.

In the week running up to the one-year anniversary, students of the school had made thousands of postcards in memory of the teacher, pupil and teacher aide who were killed in the assault.

A police investigation has showed that Lundin had planned the attack, which lasted around 10 minutes, after being inspired by racist websites.

A teenage student told The Local at the time that many people at the school at first thought it was some kind of a prank.

“I was in a classroom with my class when one of my classmates’ sisters called her to warn her that there was a murderer at the school. So we locked the door to the classroom, but our teacher was still outside in the corridor.”

“We wanted to warn him, so a few of us went outside and then I saw the murderer, he was wearing a mask and had a sword. Our teacher got stabbed.”

“The murderer started chasing me, I ran into another classroom. If I had not run, I would have been murdered. I’m feeling really scared. Everyone’s scared here.”

Trollhättan is an industrial town with around 50,000 residents.