Patrick Rall's picture

Spyker may join forces with Chinese to save Saab, GM approves Russian investor

Saab has seen its Trollhattan, Sweden production facility shuttered for most of April due to inability to pay suppliers for the components needed to produce vehicles and with the parent company Spyker desperate for funding, the company is looking to Russian investor Vladimir Antonov along with a variety of Chinese automakers to save the Saab brand.
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Throughout this past month of troubled times for Saab and Spyker, the company has been pitting all of their hopes in Russian investor Vladimir Antonov. Antonov was formerly a shareholder of Spyker prior to their purchase of Saab from General Motors but due to allegations of ties to organized crime, the wealthy Russian was forced to sell off his stake in Spyker.

However, just over a year after Spyker purchased Saab, the company is in such poor financial shape that they have continually halted production because suppliers won’t provide the items needed to build vehicles. Spyker initially insisted that they did not have any financial troubles but this was just an error in cash flow but since then, the company has been scrambling to find someone – anyone – who will invest enough money to keep the company afloat. The most public plan involves selling their Trollhattan production facility and other assets to Antonov which would bring a fair sum of cash into the company. From there, Spyker would lease back the needed facilities from Antonov but the problem was the whole “organized crime” issues with the Russian. When Spyker initially purchased Saab, the Swedish government had an issue with the questionable character being involved but since things have gone so poorly for the Spyker-controlled Saab brand, the government has given their approval of Antonov. The only other sticking point in getting the Russian back on board with the automaker was GM’s approval and, according to Reuters, General Motors has given the green light for Antonov to buy back into Spyker.

In addition to the work between Spyker and Antonov, multiple sources including Bloomberg, Dow Jones and Reuters have reported that Spyker is discussing a possible merger with any of a variety of Chinese companies to help save Saab. Should Spyker join forces with one of the Chinese automakers, the deal would likely involve a fair chunk of cash going to Spyker with partial ownership going to the Chinese company. Also, this deal may require Spyker to build some Saab products in China for both the local market and the rest of the world and according to these reports, the merger between Spyker/Saab and a Chinese automaker or investment firm could happen within the next few weeks.

Spyker has recently announced the results of their first quarter of 2011 and, as can be expected of a company who has been forced to halt production due to the inability to pay their bills, the company lost money. Lots of money. $107,000,000 to be exact…in a period of time where most major automakers (the Japanese disasters notwithstanding) have flourished. It looks to be getting to the point where Spyker absolutely has to find someone to buy into the company who has lots of money to burn and with Antonov receiving approval and Spyker in talks with Chinese companies, by the end of the second quarter of 2011 it will be interesting to see who all owns a piece of the Swedish automaker.

Other Saab News:
Saab suppliers claim the automaker owes tens of millions
Saab production halted as supplier problems continue
First OEM Android-powered infotainment system coming to Saab
The Saab Phoenix Concept debuts in Geneva
Spyker sells Spyker Cars, keeps Saab


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