Saab Auto’s Planned Property Sale Stalls on Bank Conditions

Saab Autos Planned Property Sale Stalls on Bank Conditions
Saabs factory in Trollhaettan, Sweden, has been idle all but a few days since March 29 after some suppliers halted shipments and demanded payment. Photographer: Casper Hedberg/Bloomberg

Saab Automobile, the Swedish carmaker that’s been forced to halt production amid a cash crunch, said plans to raise funds by selling property have stalled because of European Investment Bank demands.

Conditions from the European Union’s investment arm include Saab refinancing the sale or replacing the purchaser “within a limited period of time,” Dutch owner Spyker Cars NV said today in a statement. The property, including Saab’s Swedish factory, would be bought by Russian banker Vladimir Antonov.

Saab’s factory in Trollhaettan, Sweden, has been idle all but a few days since March 29 after some suppliers halted shipments and demanded payment. Saab hit a cash shortage after sales last year fell short of its forecast. The carmaker owes at least 300 million kronor ($49.1 million) to suppliers, estimates FKG, a trade group representing Swedish auto suppliers.

“Saab Automobile is working with all parties involved on a solution to complete the sale of the property and will have further talks with the EIB today,” Spyker said.

Spyker fell as much as 25 cents, or 5.8 percent, to 4 euros and was down 5.4 percent as of 1:21 p.m. in Amsterdam trading. The shares have advanced 16 percent this year, valuing the Zeewolde, Netherlands-based company at 80.8 million euros ($118 million).

Saab and Spyker also said they’re continuing to work on other ways to raise money, including negotiating equity, debt and technology licensing deals with “various Chinese car manufacturers.” They didn’t identify those companies.

‘Full Plate’

Volvo Cars, the Swedish automaker owned by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., has denied a Dutch media report from last week that the Swedish government has asked it to possibly acquire Saab.

“There has been no such initiative,” Volvo spokesman Olle Axelson said by telephone today. “We have never discussed it, never looked at it. We have a very full plate already, we don’t need to spend time and resources on Saab.”

The EIB is requesting more clarification from the Swedish government, the country’s national debt office, General Motors Co. and Saab, Spyker said.

“We are awaiting GM’s agreement to Saab’s liquidity package,” Eva Srejber, an EIB vice president, said today in an emailed comment. “We are working together with the other three parties involved to resolve the final step.” Andreas Kroemer, a GM spokesman in Russelsheim, Germany, declined to comment.

The EIB agreed last year to lend 400 million euros to Saab for specific engineering projects. Saab has so far drawn 217 million euros of the loan. The proposed asset sale, which the Swedish debt office said April 21 it supports, would involve reducing the amount Saab borrows from the EIB to 280 million euros.

Antonov, who is also a former Spyker chairman, today will meet with Bo Lundgren, head of Sweden’s national debt office, to discuss terms for letting the Russian invest in Saab and Spyker, Lars Carlstrom, Antonov’s spokesman, said in a telephone interview late yesterday.

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