Saab told to repay wages debt

This is one that was slowly brewing overnight and the full outcome of the hearings is now coming out into news stories.

It looks like Saab/Spyker are going to appeal, or fight, this ruling. I don’t think it’s any sort of fatal blow to Saab at all, but who wouldn’t fight to retain $15mil rather than just hand it out. $15mil here and $15mil there, pretty soon you’re talking about real money….

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* Swedish region seeks repayment for covering Saab wages
* After Sept. 20 deadline will call state debt collector
* Spyker says will fight case, could make provision

STOCKHOLM, Sept 6 (Reuters) – Sweden’s Vastra Gotaland region said Saab, owned by Dutch group Spyker, must pay its $15 million bill from the government by Sept. 20 or it will ask the public debt collector to enforce payment.

The bill is from a period when Saab Automobile was under administration and the government of Vastra Gotaland in western Sweden, home to Saab’s main production plant, stepped in to cover wages.

Vastra Gotaland Governor Lars Backstrom said on Monday that Saab owed it 110.7 million crowns ($15.3 million).

“If the payment is not made, the case will be handed in to the Swedish Enforcement Authority for debt collection,” Backstrom said.

Saab and parent Spyker have said the company should only be required to pay part of the amount demanded, claiming the debt to the government should be treated the same as all of its other debts, which were written down as part of the administration process*.

Saab was not immediately available for comment.

Spyker Chief Executive Victor Muller told Dutch news agency ANP the case was “much ado about nothing” and Spyker would fight the claim. However, he said in the worst-case scenario, the company would make a provision for the full amount of the claim.

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* During the administration and reorganisation process, Saab received an agreement from creditors to write down their debts by 75%. It’s my understanding that the remaining 25% have since been paid. It is not known whether the government were required to sign up to that agreement at the time, but it appears Saab might be trying to include them as an implied party to this agreement.

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