Pang Da: Saab comment ‘a misunderstanding’

Chinese firm Pang Da and Sweden's Saab have issued a joint statement to clarify that the contract between the firms is valid, stating that prior comments to the contrary were due to a "misunderstanding".

Pang Da: Saab comment 'a misunderstanding'

Pang Da chairman, Pang Qinghua, was reported by Reuters to have said on Wednesday that the firm’s contract with Saab Automobile to become a co-owner does not apply after the company went into business reconstruction.

Saab owner Swedish Automobile immediately responded by calling the statement a misunderstanding and the firms later issued a joint statement clarifying the issue.

“We don’t know if he has been wrongly quoted or if not everything was included in its context. But it is a misunderstanding all the same,” said Gunilla Gustavs at Saab told the TT news agency.

Pang Qinghua’s comments were made to reporters at an industry fair in Chengdu in southern China.

According to Reuters he furthermore added that the Chinese consortium had not yet submitted a proposal to the Chinese government on the Saab deal.

Saab CEO and owner Victor Muller later said in an text to Reuters: “On track with both Pangda and Youngman”.

Gunilla Gustavs earlier expressed surprised at the statement and said that the firm had not received any indications of any problems.

“We do not understand at all what this might involve. We met Pang Da as late as yesterday, and everything is on track. There must be some misunderstanding. There is something not right here,” she said on Wednesday.

Victor Muller met yesterday with Chinese Youngman, which was due to have paid the Swedish automaker 640 million kronor ($95.8 million) two weeks ago but have not yet done so.

“Everyone is standing by their commitments, including Youngman” he said to the Dagens Industri daily, after the meeting.

According to Saab, Chinese authorities will give the go-ahead for the deal on October 14th.

Saab signed a deal in July with Pang Da and Youngman to let the two become partners, following the collapse of a deal with a further Chinese firm Hawtai.

Representatives of the company visited Saab’s production facility in Trollhättan in western Sweden, when production was temporarily re-launched on May 27th this year.

Pang Da placed an order of around 2,000 vehicles from the factory and paid 45 million kronor in advance against the promise of delivery from September this year, something that Saab could not live up to.

Together with Youngman, Pang Da agreed to invest a further sum, equivalent to 2.2 billion kronor, in Saab’s parent firm Swedish Automobile.

Pang Da would thus have a stake of 24 percent.

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Half of Swiss hotels, restaurants risk bankruptcy: employer group

Nearly half of Switzerland's restaurants and hotels risk bankruptcy within months failing financial support to weather devastating Covid-19 measures, the sector's employer group warned Sunday.

Half of Swiss hotels, restaurants risk bankruptcy: employer group
Closed restaurants face bankruptcy in Switzerland. Photo by AFP

The Swiss government is expected this week to extend the closure of bars, restaurants and leisure facilities across the country until the end of February to control stubbornly high coronavirus case and death numbers.

But industry federation GastroSuisse warned in a statement that if done  without providing significant financial support, around half of businesses in the restauration and hospitality sector could go belly-up by the end of March.

The group polled around 4,000 restaurant and hotel owners, and determined that 98 percent of them already are in urgent need of financial support.

“The very existence of many of them is threatened,” GastroSuisse president Casimir Platzer said in the statement.

While restaurants and other businesses quickly received financial support when Switzerland went into partial lockdown during the initial wave of infections, GastroSuisse has complained that support during subsequent sporadic closures has lagged.

Before the crisis, more than 80 percent of Swiss restaurants and hotels were in a good or very good position of liquidity, the study showed.

But that situation quickly deteriorated.

In October, as a second wave of infections picked up steam, the organisation cautioned that 100,000 jobs were at risk.

And during the final two months of 2020, nearly 60 percent of restaurant and hotel establishments were forced to conduct layoffs for a second time, it said.

Without government intervention, a third wave of layoffs is looming, Platzer warned.

The latest closures were to be lifted on January 22, but the government said last week it wanted to extend the deadline for a further five weeks.

GastroSuisse said the final announcement, due Wednesday, needed to be
accompanied by “immediate and uncomplicated” financial support to the sector
to avoid “disaster”.

USAM, a union that represents small and medium-sized businesses in Switzerland, called Sunday for the government not to prolong or tighten measures, warning it was an “existential question” for many of its members.

Switzerland, a country of 8.6 million people, is currently registering around 4,000 Covid-19 cases a day and had by Friday seen nearly 476,000 cases and 7,545 deaths since the start of the pandemic.