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Lease-Back Plan Could Be Saab’s Salvation

Swedish government must approve Russian bailout deal.

by on Apr.11, 2011

Saab's first-ever crossover, the 9-4X.

A complex deal that would sell Saab assets to a Russian businessman then lease them back to the Swedish company could help save the cash-strapped automaker.

Saab Automobile has been frantically searching for new sources of revenue in recent days as it has burned through much of the funds it raised through a loan from the European Investment Bank, or EIB, last year.  The carmaker’s main assembly plant, in Trollhattan, has been shuttered several times because suppliers have refused to deliver much needed parts citing millions of dollars in unpaid bills.

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The white knight is Vladimir Antonov, a one-time investor in Spyker Cars, the Dutch-based company that purchased Saab from General Motors in early 2010.  Antonov would provide a financial lifeline by purchasing key assets and then leasing them back to Saab.  The deal must still be authorized by the Swedish government, which backed Saab’s loan from the EIB.

Antonov was forced out of Spyker by GM, in late 2009.  The U.S. maker refused to negotiate with the Dutch company while the oligarch was one of its investors.  But Antonov stepped back in, earlier this year, when Spyker sold him its Dutch-based sports car operations.


Saab Slammed By 2nd Supplier-led shutdown

by on Apr.06, 2011

A Saab 9-5 on the Trollhattan assembly line.

A “minor glitch” has led to the second shutdown of Saab’s headquarters plant, in Trollhattan, Sweden, in barely a week – suppliers refusing to provide critical parts because, they claim, they haven’t been paid.

Though Saab officials insists they have enough ongoing money to keep going through at least 2012, the latest crisis raises new concerns about the future of the struggling carmaker – which was purchased from General Motors in early 2010.

“We are trying to reach a solution with the suppliers,” asserted Saab spokeswoman Gunilla Gustavs, industry sources fear the situation is only growing worse.

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Saab’s Trollhattan plant was briefly shuttered last week but it initially appeared the maker was able to resolve what Chairman Victor Muller described as a “minor glitch” and make the necessary payments.

Though Muller last month told Saab had more than $200 million remaining from the loan provided by the European Investment Bank, he also indicated the Swedish company was looking for new investors.  That was one reason why parent Spyker Cars sold off its Dutch-based sports car manufacturing operations.