Saab Talks Failed on ‘Commercial Realities,’ Hawtai Says

Sweden’s Saab Automobile failed to secure investment from Hawtai Motor Group because of “commercial and economic realities,” not a lack of government approval, the Chinese company said today.

Cooperation with Saab’s owner, Spyker Cars NV (SPYKR), remains a “top priority” for Hawtai and partnership options are still being explored, the Beijing-based company said in a statement.

Hawtai agreed on May 3 to invest 120 million euros ($171 million) for a stake of as much as 29.9 percent in Spyker in a transaction that would have eased a cash shortage that halted output at Trollhaettan-based Saab on March 29. It also planned to lend 30 million euros to Spyker, which said yesterday the deal had failed to win approval from the Chinese authorities.

“Saab needs help and we strongly believe we are the best partner in this regard,” Richard Zhang, Hawtai’s vice president, said in today’s statement.

Tom Grimmer, an external spokesman for the Chinese company, declined to elaborate on the failure of the previous plan with Zeewolde, Netherlands-based Spyker, which would have seen Saab make a comeback in China after being absent since 2008.

Under that agreement, Hawtai would have made Saab vehicles locally for the Chinese market, starting in 2013 with the Swedish carmaker’s upgraded 9-3 model.

Saab said yesterday that it was continuing to work on securing short- and medium-term funding, including talking with “various” Chinese partners.

The company can still draw on a 30 million-euro loan arranged last week and is seeking further funding from the European Investment Bank, while Russian banker Vladimir Antonov has said he’d like to take a stake.

General Motors Co. (GM), Saab’s former owner, tentatively agreed on April 28 to allow Antonov’s investment.

--Liza Lin in Shanghai, with assistance from Ola Kinnader in Stockholm and Yang Huiwen. Editors: Chris Jasper, Andrew Noel.

To contact Bloomberg News staff on this story: Liza Lin in Shanghai at +86-21-6104-3047 or llin15@bloomberg.net; Ola Kinnander in Stockholm at +46-8-610-0714 or okinnander@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net; Kae Inoue at kinoue@bloomberg.net

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