At the 17:30 press conference in Rosenbad, Enterprise and Energy Minister Maud Olofsson announced that they have given Saab the go-ahead to borrow money from a European bank. The new owner of the Saab plant will be Saab Automobile AB Properties, which she confirmed is controlled by Vladimir Antonov. In turn, Sweden’s taxpayer exposure decreases since the loan guaranteed by Sweden will also decrease. The Debt Office continues to work on a review of Vladimir Antonov that will allow him to come in as part owner with a share just under 30% of the company. While this isn’t technically a transfer of money yet, Sweden’s freeing up of Saab’s collateral was one of the biggest hurdles in allowing Saab to gain access to sell its facilities and get quick access to capital. As Spyker said in their press statement, there are still issues yet to be resolved but this is the surest sign yet that Saab will be able to pay its debts very soon.
There are three tough conditions for the settlement:
- The price for the properties must be fair and the company has access to the Saab production facilities. Since the loan amount is being reduced by €120 million, one could assume that the purchase price of the factory might be somewhere around this number (in 2009 the property was valued somewhere around €110 million).
- Any questions remaining about Antonov must be resolved. This is to prevent any question of money laundering.
- The money must flow through a European bank that isn’t connected to Antonov.
Sadly the conditions are all there to satisfy any doubts about Vladimir Antonov, which I’m sure he’s happy to prove are unfounded. Time will heal, and his image will hopefully recover someday. For now, these are the conditions Saab has to live with, and while they may be overly complex, it’s a testament to Saab management to be able to pull another rabbit out of their hats.
The EIB loan facility will decrease to 280 million, of which Saab has already borrowed 217 million. No word yet on if the money must still be used for environmental projects, but by all accounts those conditions remain. According to Daniel Barr from the Swedish National Debt Office, the deal must be approved by the EIB. As you’ll read in Spyker’s press release below, there are still outstanding issues to be ironed out. Saab will be guaranteed a down payment of 30 million (Euro we think), but the facilities will bring in a lot, lot more. This frees up liquidity right away to pay suppliers and get the production line moving while at the same time giving Saab a buffer to work towards securing long-term financing. In other words, they’re not treading water anymore, they at least have a life preserver. Now it’s time to get back on the ship and get back to safer water.
Spyker’s press release:
SPYKER CONFIRMS STATEMENT SWEDISH GOVERNMENT ABOUT RELEASE OF NDO’S SECURITY IN SAAB PROPERTY
Zeewolde, The Netherlands, 15 April 2011 – Spyker Cars N.V. (Spyker) confirms the announcement of the Swedish Government approving the release of the pledge of the Swedish National Debt Office (NDO) in the shares of Saab Automobile Property AB (Saab Property), subject to certain conditions.
Saab Automobile AB continues its discussions with respect to the sale of its property, based on the additional conditions of the Swedish Government. The outcome of the discussions is still not certain and subject to the approval of the European Investment Bank.
In a telephone interview earlier today, Ola Kinnander of Bloomberg reported Victor said, ““This was the first step, we’ve been waiting for this way too long…Now we can work on the various conditions they’ve imposed that we’re trying to analyze. We will continue working through the weekend to reach agreement on the various points.”
No word yet on when production might restart, but Svenake Berglie says suppliers are willing to get the pipeline moving again. On April 12, Spyker said they wanted to get production started within a week, but as many have pointed out in comments, with various holidays coming up like Easter, there’s scheduled days off in between which should give some buffer time.
For more information and the sources of this information, see DI’s story and TTela’s story (and by all means visit dn.se and vote “Ja” (Saab will make it through the year). This post will be updated as we receive more information. As you could tell, your F5 keys crashed the site once already ;).