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.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sweden, do the right thing. Give your people an answer!

The past week must have been one of the toughest in the history of Saab. Last Friday the company said that it was unable to pay wages to its 3,600 employees. Four days later Saab has managed to scratch together EUR 41 million, enough to pay wages, but probably not enough to restart production.

The Swedish Minister of Enterprise and the Prime Minister have both spoken ill of Saab the last two years. And the Government has done nothing to help its ailing car industry, as opposed to for instance the US, Germany and France.

Time and time again the Minister of Enterprise has said that it’s not the Swedish state’s responsibility to own a car manufacturer. But the Swedish state does not have to own Saab. There is an investor willing to risk his own money in Saab. And that man is of course Mr. Vladimir Antonov.

Mr. Antonov is not just willing to invest in Saab, he is eager to. And he has been eager ever since December 2009. In the end of March of this year, he even handed in an application to the Swedish National Debt Office asking them to approve him as part owner of Saab. An approval the National Debt Office gave in the end of April. They saw no reason why he should not be allowed into Saab. But when the approval and the National Debt Office’s recommendation were sent to the Swedish Government, it came to a hard stop. The Government has said that they will not make any decision until the European Investment Bank and General Motors have made their decision.

General Motors said already in April that they had reach a tentative agreement with Saab to approve Mr. Antonov as part owner of Saab.

The European Investment Bank has made no decision and refuses to comment on why.

Mr. Antonov and Saab are met with a wall of silence, where no decision at all represents the same as a denial. A Kafkaesque bureaucratic process where he is found guilty of not being suitable as a Saab owner, but nobody knows why.

At the same time Saab is balancing on the edge of bankruptcy. The management manages to raise some tens of millions euro to keep bankruptcy at arm’s length. But for how long?

There are 6,800 jobs at stake. 3,600 jobs at Saab and 3,200 jobs at the suppliers. Families can be torn apart. Childhoods can be destroyed. Hundreds of millions in taxes can be lost. Hundreds of millions in unemployment benefit and welfare benefits can come.

But the Swedish Government sits idly by, watching Swedish industrial history slowly crumble away.

Why can not a banker from Russia be allowed to invest his own money in Saab? A banker who has been exonerated of all previous allegations. A man the Swedish National Debt Office after a thorough scrutiny has found no reason to be denied ownership in Saab.

Sweden claims to be a democracy. But in a democracy a decision that affects a large number of people and a large region of the country should not be deliberately delayed and hold up. When asking why, the people should not be met with a wall of silence. That is not worthy of a democracy.

Sweden, do the right thing. Give your people an answer!