Spyker’s Saab, Hawtai Drop Venture as China Clearance Fails

Saab Automobile, the Swedish carmaker that agreed last week to produce autos in China with Hawtai Motor Group, faces fresh uncertainty over its future after the plan failed win approval from authorities in the Asian nation.

The manufacturers will continue talks about cooperation on a non-exclusive basis after they were “forced to terminate the agreement” when it became clear that Hawtai couldn’t get Chinese consent, Spyker Cars NV, the Dutch supercar maker that owns Saab, said in a statement. Spyker fell the most in six weeks.

The deal would have helped Trollhaettan-based Saab ease a cash shortage that forced it to halt output on March 29 and to stage a comeback in China, where it has been absent since 2008. The carmaker can still draw on a 30 million-euro ($43 million) loan arranged last week and is also seeking further funding from the European Investment Bank, while Russian banker Vladimir Antonov has said he’d like to take a stake.

“They have to look for another investor, it’s as simple as that,” Tom Muller, senior analyst at Theodoor Gilissen Bankiers NV in Amsterdam, said by telephone today. “They need a stable long-term investor. Whether that’s a financial investor or car-sector investor doesn’t matter.”

Spyker Cars dropped as much as 16 percent to 3.52 euros, the steepest intraday decline since March 30, and was trading at 3.70 euros as of 1:46 p.m. in Amsterdam. That pared the stock’s gain this year to 5.8 percent.

Hawtai, based in Beijing, agreed on May 3 to invest 120 million euros ($171 million) and receive a stake of as much as 29.9 percent of Zeewolde, Netherlands-based Spyker. The Chinese company also agreed to lend Spyker 30 million euros.

Agreement Terms

The agreement would have let Hawtai produce Saab vehicles locally for the Chinese market, starting in 2013 with the Swedish carmaker’s upgraded 9-3 model. The deal also required the approval of the EIB and the Swedish National Debt Office, which is guaranteeing a loan to Saab from the bank.

“Hawtai has nothing further to add at this stage beyond what was announced at the press conference on May 3,” Xinyi Huo, the automaker’s strategic planning director, said in a phone interview with Bloomberg News.

Spyker Chief Executive Officer Victor Muller said by telephone from China today that local authorities wouldn’t clear the deal. He declined to comment further. Spyker’s statement didn’t specify any Chinese party that wasn’t giving approval.

Muller had predicted on May 3 that the deal would be fully cleared within six to 12 weeks. Saab said today that it continues to work on securing short- and medium-term funding, including talking with “various” Chinese partners.

Cash Need

Saab probably needs between 50 million euros and 100 million euros to carry it over the next two or three quarters, Muller, the Theodoor Gilissen analyst, said. He isn’t related to the Spyker CEO.

Saab aims to restart production after it has won clearance from the EIB, the European Union’s lending institution, to draw another 29 million euros in loans, or after it secures funding in other ways, the carmaker said.

The Swedish manufacturer is also trying to bring in Russian banker Antonov. General Motors Co., Saab’s former owner, tentatively agreed on April 28 to allow Antonov’s investment.

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