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.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Swedish Government Circus

Last week it was made known by the European Investment Bank (EIB) that the Russian banker Vladimir Antonov will never be approved as part owner of Saab as long as the EIB provides Saab with loans. This was a decision the EIB made back in 2009 and they will not reconsider. This decision was communicated to both the Swedish Government and Saab. So far so good. One would maybe expect to get an explanation why he will never be approved, but I guess that is to much to ask from a self-righteous organization like the EIB.

For some reason, neither Saab nor the Swedish government interpreted this rejection as a permanent decision. And therefore Saab applied to both the Swedish National Debt Office, the Government and the EIB earlier this year for Vladimir Antonov to be approved. The NDO put down a lot of work in examining Vladimir Antonov's life and business. And they found that there were no reasons that he should not be allowed to be part owner of Saab.

The Swedish Government's answer to the decision of the NDO was that the Government would allow Antonov if General Motors (who also has to approve new owners) and the EIB did so too.

General Motors had no objections as long as some conditions were fulfilled.

And weeks passed by. Months passed by. Still no decision from the EIB.

Then all of a sudden the EIB tells us that their are not looking into the application to approve Antonov. Reason being that he was rejected in 2009 and the EIB will not reconsider.

This surprises Saab. And the Swedish Government. But how can the Swedish Government be surprised? After all, Sweden's Minister of Finance is on the Board of Governors of the EIB! And Director General at the Ministry, Kurt A. Hall, is member of the Board of Directors of the EIB.  And Sweden is shareholder of the EIB.

Robert Collin of Swedish Aftonbladet called the Ministry to ask how the Minister has used his board position, he reached the press secretary of the Minister:

How has Anders Borg used his position on the board of the EIB to influence the Saab affair?
There is silence on the phone: "What kind of Board?"
- Of the EIB.
- But does he have a position on the board ... of the EIB?
The answer is that Sweden's Minster of Finance has been on the Board of the EIB since 2006. And should of course have first hand knowledge of why the EIB decided that Antonov would not be approved and that they refuse to reconsider. But the Swedish Government only seem to be a circus filled with clowns.

On the bright side, DI reports today that the Swedish Ministry of Enterprise says that it will contact the EIB and ask for an explanation of what's going on. According to the Ministry of Enterprise, it was under the impression that the EIB was examining Antonov and his business to see if the decision could be revised.