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SAAB BECOMES CHINESE

SAAB

‘The deal was crucial for Saab’: expert

After months of uncertainty cash-strapped carmaker Saab might finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, as Chinese firms Pang Da and Youngman announced on Friday that they will buy 100 percent of the shares of Saab Automobile.

'The deal was crucial for Saab': expert
Victor Muller and Pang Da CEO Pang Qinghua; Mikael Wickelgren

The Local spoke to business expert Mikael Wickelgren of the Centre for Consumer Science at the University of Gothenburg to get some perspective on what this means for Saab and for Sweden.

The Local: Will this save Saab?

Mikael Wickelgren: It’s way too early to say that yet. This deal alone can’t save the company anyway, it just means that the restructuring will not be cancelled.

TL: Is Saab a profitable deal for the Chinese?

MW: At the moment Saab can’t be seen as a profitable deal for anyone. It will take measures; basically money to be pumped in to the company to pay off debts and make investments in the company. It will cost a lot of money to start with.

TL: Did the Chinese make a good deal over Saab?

MW: Well, the deal is hardly established yet. All we have seen so far is a so called memorandum of understanding, which basically means that they will now sit down and work out the actual deal.

TL: Is Saab going to be able to continue being a ”Swedish” car?

MW: What is a Swedish car? Is Volvo a Swedish car despite being 100 percent owned by Chinese companies? Is Jaguar a British car despite its Indian owners? I think it depends on what we perceive it to be, more than anything.

TL: Will cars continue being built in Trollhättan?

MW: There are no indications that the production will be moved in the short term, that is, within the next 5-6 years. Trollhättan is and will continue to be the epicentre of Saab production.

TL: What does this mean for Saab’s future?

MW: It was completely crucial for Saab. If this hadn’t happened, they would not have been working on the particulars of the Saab future but the Saab bankruptcy right now.

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CARS

Former Swedish Saab bosses appear in court

Swedish car maker Saab's former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson and the firm's former head lawyer Kristina Geers have appeared in court in Vänersborg in west Sweden, accused of falsifying financial documents shortly before the company went bankrupt in 2011.

Former Swedish Saab bosses appear in court
Saab's former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson. Photo: Karin Olander/TT
The pair are accused of falsifying the paperwork at the height of the Swedish company's financial difficulties at the start of the decade.
 
A third person – who has not been named in the Swedish media – is accused of assisting them by issuing false invoices adding up to a total of 30 million kronor ($3.55m).
 
According to court documents, the charges relate to the firm's business in Ukraine and the paperwork in question was signed just before former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson resigned.
 
Both Jonsson and Saab's former head lawyer Kristina Geers have admitted signing the papers but denied knowledge of the Ukranian firm implicated in the case.
 
All three suspects deny all the charges against them.
 

Saab's former head lawyer Kristina Geers. Photo:  Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT
 
Saab filed for bankruptcy at the end of 2011, after teetering on the edge of collapse for nearly two years.
 
Chief prosecutor Olof Sahlgren told the court in Vänersborg on Wednesday that the alleged crimes took place in March 2011, when Saab was briefly owned by the Dutch company Spyker Cars.
  
It was eventually bought by National Electric Vehicle Sweden (Nevs), a Chinese-owned company after hundreds of staff lost their jobs.
 
The car maker, which is based in west Sweden, has struggled to resolve serious financial difficulties by attracting new investors since the takeover.
 
In October 2014 it announced it had axed 155 workers, close to a third of its workforce.
 
Since 2000, Saab automobile has had no connection with the defence and aeronautics firm with the same name. It only produces one model today, the electric 9-3 Aero Sedan, mainly targeting the Chinese market.