I’ve been looking around on the newswires a bit, there’s no real braking news but a few bits here and there that add some info to our picture.
From Bloomberg by Ola Kinnander:
Lars Carlstrom, a spokesman for Antonov, said the banker may report the EIB decision to the European Commission and will “weigh opportunities for legal action” against the bank and the Swedish government. “The EIB and the government have pretended for months to consider our application to let Antonov in. This charade has probably cost Saab a billion kronor,” he said by telephone.
Johanna Martin, spokeswoman for Swedish Industry Minister Maud Olofsson, said the government is not making a decision on Antonov until it hears from the EIB and Saab’s former owner General Motors Co. (GM)
Antonov’s investment in Saab would be in the form of working capital, letter of credit and shares, Carlstrom said. Antonov would cap his stake in Swedish Automobile at below 30 percent, Carlstrom said.
“We’re not aware of any suspicions against Antonov, so we really wish the EIB would explain its decision to bar him,” Eric Geers, a Saab spokesman, said today by phone. “We would love to have him as investor.”
Carlstrom said it “looks promising” that Saab will secure a commercial loan “within weeks” that will allow it to pay off the EIB, and pave the way for Antonov to invest in Saab.
Honestly I am not sure if a lawsuit would help but it may be worth a look. Anyway, it would surely take a few years until some court decision came. We’ve got more important tasks to handle right now.
Carlstrom said the EIB was taking its cue from the Swedish government.
“The Swedish government has stopped us investing 100 million euros ($143.6 million) in Saab,” he said. “They are ready to risk 4,000 jobs.”
Antonov has not given up on Saab, however.
Carlstrom said Antonov still wanted to be an owner in Saab and was working on a way to repay the 217 million euros the carmaker already borrowed from the EIB in order to be able to take a stake in the Swedish car firm, owned by Dutch-listed Swedish Automobile .
He said Antonov hoped to present a deal “within a short time”, adding this was likely to be a few weeks.
A bit hot is that piece from Aftonbladet:
But according to Lars Carlstrom, representing the Russian financier in Sweden, has been through government contacts received confirmation from officials of the government that there is an agreement between Borg and the EIB’s senior management that does not accept Antonov. The government’s motives to be lack of interest in Swedish industry and political prestige.
It fuels the thought of conspiracy – I refused to believe in conspiracy but things are getting even stranger and stranger.
The EIB/Saab story is all around the newswires now but with not much info in addition to what we already know. The interesting point is that Saab, Antonov, NDO and Swegov claim that they have no indication why the EIB will never approve Antonov as an investor. Be it Russophobia or whatever else, I am not sure if we ever get to know the details. The important thing right now is that Antonov moved on to seek possibilities to get the EIB out of the way. In the long run this will be a good thing because Saab gets more freedom without having several parties that need to approve every move.
Another issue mentioned in the news is the unpaid wages (Bloomberg):
The union representing the unpaid workers said it was taking action to recover the money, a process that could lead it to request courts declare Saab bankrupt.
“If they don’t pay within 14 days or so, we will seek bankruptcy,” Unionen General Counsel Martin Wastfelt told Reuters.
He estimated it would take about a month for such a process.
I’d see that quite relaxed. It’s the duty of the union to act on behalf of their workers and to prepare for every possible scenario. But I am confident that the wages will be paid soon.
As Tim said last night, just wait and see. If you look at the time frame Carlström set for replacing the EIB by other sources and the time frame for the approval of the PangDa/Youngman deal it is quite likely that we will face lots of good news soon. Right now it is about keeping Saab alive until then. I’m afraid we have to see 2011 as another recovery year just like 2010. That’s bad because it costs a lot of money but Saab should be much stronger then. And as soon as production gets up again there will be cashflow again – that’s the key. It’s extremely tough right now but the light is there and a lot of good people are working extremely hard on making things happen.
Keep calm and carry on.