General Motors Co. said it reached a tentative agreement to let Russian banker Vladimir Antonov invest in Spyker Cars NV’s Saab Automobile unit.
Any accord hinges on “certain specific actions to be taken by Saab,” as well as some other clearances, Jim Cain, a spokesman at Detroit-based GM, said today in an e-mail.
Antonov, who is also a former chairman of and shareholder in Spyker, was forced to exit the Zeewolde, Netherlands-based company as a condition for GM to sell Saab to the Dutch supercar maker in February 2010. Saab ran short of cash after sales last year missed its forecast, and the Swedish manufacturer’s plant in Trollhaettan has been idle all but a few days since March 29 after some suppliers halted shipments and demanded payment.
The Swedish National Debt Office, which is providing loan guarantees to Saab, said today that it approved Antonov’s investment in the carmaker. In addition to final clearance from GM, Antonov still needs approval from the full Swedish government and the European Investment Bank, the lending arm of the European Union that has provided model-development financing to Saab.
Spyker was up 50 cents, or 13 percent, to 4.35 euros at the 5:30 p.m. close in Amsterdam, the biggest one-day jump since Jan. 25. The stock has gained 26 percent this year.
Saab owes at least 300 million kronor ($49.7 million) to suppliers, according to FKG, a trade group representing Swedish auto suppliers.
Antonov reached an agreement to buy the Dutch company’s sports-car operations in February. Saab and Spyker first asked the Swedish government to approve him as a shareholder on March 29. The banker has agreed to invest as much as 30 million euros ($44.5 million) for a 29.9 percent stake in Spyker and may be able to finance Saab in other ways in the future such as through loans, Debt Office head Bo Lundgren said at a Stockholm news conference.
Antonov is ready to invest at least 50 million euros in Saab, Lars Carlstrom, his spokesman, has said.
“The past months of speculation around me, as an individual investor and my businesses, have been exhausting,” Antonov said in an e-mailed statement. “Finally we have managed to obtain a clean bill of health and we need to move fast forward to secure the cash flow of Saab Automobile.”
Lundgren said the debt office has done a background check on Antonov “without finding anything that we think warrants preventing him” from becoming a Spyker shareholder. The investigation included investigating if Antonov or his financial holding company Conversgroup, which owns several banks, had been involved in money laundering.
Saab and Spyker are also pursuing financing from other investors, including Chinese carmakers, the Dutch company said on April 26.