IMPORTANT NEWS: National Electric Vehicle Sweden has agreed to buy the assets of Saab Automobile and the sale is expected to be finalized during the summer.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Saab back to negotiating with Great Wall Motors?

According to reports a few weeks ago Great Wall Motors seemed like the most likely partner for Saab. Then out of nowhere Hawtai entered the scene and snatched Saab in front of Great Wall Motors. As we all know, the deal with hawtai was terminated. Some sorices says it was because the Chinese autoroties would most likely not approve the deal, others say it was powerful shareholders both in Hawtai and Spyker who were not happy with the deal. Now that the deal with Hawtai has been terminated, several well connected source say that Great Wall Motors once again seems like the most likely partner for Saab. In fact, Saab and Great Wall never stopped talking despite the framework agreement with Hawtai.

Great Wall Motors is a much bigger company than Hawtai. With a production of 400,000 vehicles last year Great Wall is one of the fastest growing Chinese companies. And maybe most important, it is reported that the powerful Chinese government agency National Development Reform Commission (NDRC) is positive to a deal between Saab and Great Wall Motors. Last time when Saab was negotiating with Great Wall, the team from Saab visited Great Wall's manufacturing plant and development center in Baoding in the Hebei province 29 April. And they were impressed with what they saw.

In addition to Great Wall Motors, BAIC is also believed to be in negotiations with Saab. BAIC is know as the company which bought the rights to the technology of the previous Saab 9-5 and the pre-2004 Saab 9-3. But there are also reports that also a third Chinese company has entered the process. A company that has previously not been part of the discussions.

But China is not the only possible deal for Spyker and Saab. Lars Carlström, Swedish spokesman of the Russian banker Vladimir Antonov, tells Svenska Dagbladet that Antonov still wants to invest SEK 1 billion (approx EUR 110 million) in Saab - if he is permitted.

At the moment Antonov is awaiting the decision of the European Investment Bank, to approve or dismiss his application to become part owner of Saab. The Swedish National Debt Office already approved Antonov two weeks ago and were very positive when speaking of Antonov and his ambitions for Saab. Lately the EIB's slow working pace has been a hot subject in Sweden. Latest today when a high profile politician questioned the EIB's slow decision process. Also the Swedish Government has been criticized for not approving Antonov yet, but instead waiting for the decision from the EIB first.

"Every day is a new day of waiting. Nothing happens and we can not understand why it takes so much time," Antonov's Swedish spokesman Lars Carlström commented ti E24 on the EIB approval process.

To SvD he expressed disappointment with the Swedish Government.

"We would be grateful if the Government had been at the forefront of this and guide the EIB, but that is not the case."

Carlström said that the money needed to get Saab back on its feet was small amount in the big picture. He continued saying that for the long run bigger investments is needed, and that Antonov has partners who are interested in investing in Saab.