Saab debts top ‘several hundred million’

As production at Swedish carmaker Saab remains on hold due to unpaid bills, a trade association representing auto industry suppliers has claimed that the firm's debts exceed several hundred million kronor.

Saab debts top 'several hundred million'

Saab’s Trollhättan factories have lain silent since last Tuesday when the firm announced that production was being halted until further notice as the beleaguered company battles to find a solution to its cash shortage.

While the Saab leadership has sought to play down the crisis, Svenåke Berglie, chair of Fordonskomponentgruppen (FKG), a trade association representing Scandinavian auto industry suppliers, argues that the firm has substantial outstanding debts.

“If you add the foreign suppliers, which are the majority, then it’s definitely about several hundred million,” Berglie told Reuters.

No cars have been manufactured at Saab’s factory in Trollhättan for over a week, the production lines remain stationary and the premises are empty.

On Wednesday morning employees were told that they could stay at home on Thursday as well.

The company on Tuesday promised that it would produce further information regarding the search for new financing at the latest on Thursday.

Russian financier Vladimir Antonov who provided a portion of the funds to secure the purchase of Saab from US GM in 2010, remained upbeat over the prospects of the highly indebted company.

“A brilliant deal,” was how Antonov’s spokesperson in Sweden, Lars Carlström, described the firm.

“But one should not belittle the damage that the firm has suffered recently,” Carlström said.

That other potential investors were unable to see the potential of Saab surprised Carlström.

“In 2008, Saab sold 133,000 cars with a ten-year-old model. Now there are three new models, none of which have been released. It should thus not be impossible to sell 100,000 cars and expand to 133,000 in a couple of years,” he said.

Carlström confirmed that Vladimir Antonov had been hoping for some form of clarification over the situation on Wednesday.

“This situation must be eased as soon as possible,” he said.

Neither was there any indication from the government revealing the process behind the scenes.

“The National Debt Office has been tasked and is working hard to help Saab to solve its problems,” said Erik Bratt Hall, press secretary for enterprise minister Maud Olofsson.

“This was the case last week, over the weekend and will continue this week, of course. Saab wins nothing through speculation at this time,” he said.

The National Debt Office confirmed only that the work for Saab’s future was continuing with no indication of the timescale, nor further obstacles to be overcome.

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Former Swedish Saab bosses appear in court

Swedish car maker Saab's former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson and the firm's former head lawyer Kristina Geers have appeared in court in Vänersborg in west Sweden, accused of falsifying financial documents shortly before the company went bankrupt in 2011.

Former Swedish Saab bosses appear in court
Saab's former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson. Photo: Karin Olander/TT
The pair are accused of falsifying the paperwork at the height of the Swedish company's financial difficulties at the start of the decade.
A third person – who has not been named in the Swedish media – is accused of assisting them by issuing false invoices adding up to a total of 30 million kronor ($3.55m).
According to court documents, the charges relate to the firm's business in Ukraine and the paperwork in question was signed just before former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson resigned.
Both Jonsson and Saab's former head lawyer Kristina Geers have admitted signing the papers but denied knowledge of the Ukranian firm implicated in the case.
All three suspects deny all the charges against them.

Saab's former head lawyer Kristina Geers. Photo:  Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT
Saab filed for bankruptcy at the end of 2011, after teetering on the edge of collapse for nearly two years.
Chief prosecutor Olof Sahlgren told the court in Vänersborg on Wednesday that the alleged crimes took place in March 2011, when Saab was briefly owned by the Dutch company Spyker Cars.
It was eventually bought by National Electric Vehicle Sweden (Nevs), a Chinese-owned company after hundreds of staff lost their jobs.
The car maker, which is based in west Sweden, has struggled to resolve serious financial difficulties by attracting new investors since the takeover.
In October 2014 it announced it had axed 155 workers, close to a third of its workforce.
Since 2000, Saab automobile has had no connection with the defence and aeronautics firm with the same name. It only produces one model today, the electric 9-3 Aero Sedan, mainly targeting the Chinese market.