Saab juggles Chinese suitors 'to please GM'

11.12.2011 - 14:05


Swedish Automobile, the owners of beleaguered Swedish carmaker Saab have revealed that they are in talks with a new configuration of Chinese partners in what has been described as a bid to appease previous owner US General Motors, The Local reported on 5 December.
Saab's Dutch owner Swedish Automobile, or Swan, said in a statement it was in discussions with Chinese carmaker Youngman "and a bank in China about an equity interest in Swan."
Swan had previously agreed to sell 100% of Saab, which is currently reorganising under bankruptcy protection, to Youngman and Chinese car distribution company Pang Da, but General Motors blocked the necessary transfer of technology licences to the two Chinese firms.
According to Swedish media reports, Swan had agreed to sell 19.9% of Saab to Youngman and 29.9% of the firm to state-owned Bank of China, thus ensuring that Chinese ownership remain below the sensitive 50% threshold.
 However, Swan's charismatic chief executive Victor Muller denied that the Chinese bank in question was the Bank of China. In its statement on 5 December, Swan simply said "the in discussions include a short term solution to enable Saab Automobile to pay the November wages and continue reorganisation."
"The outcome of the discussions is still uncertain. Any possible transaction would be subject to the approval of the relevant stakeholders," it added.
Saab was on the brink of bankruptcy when GM sold it to Swedish Automobile - at the time called Spyker - in early 2010 for $400 million. It has been a rocky road since then. The carmaker was forced to halt production in April as suppliers stopped deliveries over mountains of unpaid bills and Saab's some 3,700 people have seen salary payments delayed five months running. Employees have yet to receive the salaries due on 25 November, and unions threatened previous week to pursue bankruptcy proceedings against the firm if wages were further delayed.