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2009.12.07.

Saab's "Catch-22" can be solved by the government

In order to find a new owner, Saab Automobile needs to get a final okay from the European Commission. But first Saab needs to find a new owner - thus a "catch 22". But the Swedish government can solve the knot and on Tuesday the Enterprise and Energyminister, Maud Olofsson, will visit Trollhattan.

Saab needs to get breathing space to find a new owner and simultaneously trigger the production of the new 9-5. Perhaps the knots can be dissolved before year end.

Saab has applied for and obtained a loan for research into green technologies and security from the European Investment Bank, EIB. The loan is just over four billion swedish crowns and regarded as absolutely necessary to create new, competitive models that ensure the future of Saab.

The EIB loan is approved by the bank's board, but must get their final "OK stamp" of the EU Commission. The need, in turn, asking about who the new owners of Saab - which becomes difficult to obtain unless the EIB loan has received its okay first. So Saab Automobile is stuck in a classic stalemate, or "catch-22" as by Joseph Heller's novel.

Billede
Official picture of the new Saab 9-5

Maud Olofsson should carry with her, a loan to Saab Automobile. On Tuesday we will see if the rumors are correct.
The impasse can be dissolved by the Swedish Government and Enterprise and Energyminister Maud Olofsson was in Brussels at the end of last week to increase the pace of the EU Commission. According to yet unconfirmed information, the Minister and the Minister for Employment, Sven Otto Littorin booked meetings with Saab's leadership and municipal representatives on Tuesday, December 8th. One possible solution would be to create a government starterloan to Saab, in a similar manner to what the German government did with Opel, when GM went through its reorganization.

A starterloan would likely be constructed with a legal card repayment date, but it would give the parties a few months of working atmosphere to complete the transfer of ownership, while getting the vital production of the new Saab 9-5 started.

Politically, the loan will be able, due to securities set by Saab. Saab has already initiated steps in the right direction by splitting the company into five companies: Tools, Property, Parts, Investment and Powertrain. Company "Tools" are expected to already have sold tools to the old Saab 9-5 to the BAIC, which is expected to build its own version of the Chinese market. With the formal separation, you can also sell property and land to other companies, and then hiring themselves, thereby freeing capital.

Dazong Wang, director of BAIC, has probably already bought the tools to old Saab 9-5. But is he prepared to buy the whole company?
Which stakeholders are left and can enter the new owner after General Motors is as yet shrouded in mystery. Chinese BAIC, has been granted a large loan from state banks, which should be enough to take over Saab. Dutch sportscar manufacturer Spyker is said to visit Trollhättan next week to inform themselves, and maybe they have some unexpected aces hidden up his sleeve. U.S. Renco Group - manufacturers of military vehicles including the Hummer - is considered one of the stakeholders and some analysts agree it's not too unlikely that Koenigsegg Group can jump back into the game on the Saab, given that conditions are right.

Billede
The very first Saab 9-5 production model, ready for sale.

All the pieces must be reasonably in place by the end of December,which General Motors board of directors and new management has set for Saab. The Chief Executive Officer Fritz Henderson was unexpected resignated at the last Board meeting and is now temporarily replaced by the hard-line chairman Ed Whitacre, who after a half-day meeting organized on the whole GM's management. Saab has been given one last chance to find a new owner, but do not count on that Ed Whitacre give any more.

Regards


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