Saab slapped with debt claim over worker pay

Saab Automobile has been hit with a payment demand from the administrative board of Västra Götaland county, which lent the troubled automaker hundreds of millions of kronor to ensure employees' salaries during restructuring.

The county administrative board has ordered Saab to repay 110.7 million kronor ($16.2 million) by December 14th, Sveriges Television (SVT) reports.

The money was lent by the county to guarantee that Saab employees were paid in the first months following Saab’s bankruptcy filing in February of this year.

Altogether, Västra Götaland lent Saab 305.5 million kronor in salary guarantees, excluding social fees.

According to the county, the amount it now wants repaid isn’t covered by Saab’s debt reduction agreement, which mandates that creditors write down 75 percent of money they are owed by Saab.

If Saab doesn’t repay the money, Västra Götaland plans to to have the Swedish Enforcement Agency (Kronofogden) force the automaker to cough up the cash.

But Saab has said it doesn’t accept the county’s demands, believing that the salary guarantees are in fact included in the debt reduction accord.

“It may be that we go to court to try to case,” Saab spokesperson Eric Geers told the TT news agency.

During the entire six month restructuring process, Saab and the state have had different views about the salary guarantees and repayment.

According to Geers, the company hasn’t yet decided how it will proceed.

“But we are still of the opinion that it’s not right to take out one part of the guarantee and judge it in a different way than the others,” he said.

The county administrative board is equally decided, claiming that salary guarantees for the first months is payment for work after the start of the restructuring process, which means it is a new debt and hence not covered by the agreement.

In addition, authorities claim there is no way to appeal the matter.

“It’s not a decision that can be appealed; it’s a legal requirement,” Christina Danielsson, the head of the Västra Götaland county board’s economic division, told TT.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


2,200 jobs to go in ‘painful’ Alitalia shake-up

Struggling Italian airline Alitalia will have to shed 2,200 jobs as part of its planned tie-up with Etihad Airways, which has promised to invest €560 million, the head of the Italian airline said on Monday.

2,200 jobs to go in 'painful' Alitalia shake-up
Gabriele del Torchio, Alitalia's chief executive, said the airline would go through a "complex, tiring and painful" restructuring. Alitalia photo: Shutterstock

Negotiations have been running for months for the Emirati airline to take a 49 percent stake in Alitalia, which currently employs 12,800 people and is facing bankruptcy.

The Italian airline will have to go through a restructuring that is "complex, tiring and painful – there is no alternative," said Gabriele del Torchio, Alitalia's chief executive, on the sidelines of a conference in Rome.

It had previously said as many as 2,500 jobs were on the line.

The airline's management hopes to finalize a deal on the company's debt by Friday. Del Torchio said talks with banking creditors were "very advanced", and that they were demanding "a sacrifice".

"I think it will take only a few weeks to conclude the deals with Etihad," he said, adding that a successful deal would send "an important signal" about Italy to foreign investors.

AirFrance-KLM also owns a stake in Alitalia, but chose not to pursue taking over the Italian airline after it could not get similar guarantees on deep restructuring to make it profitable.