Regional government wants US$12m from Saab

Regional government wants US$12m from Saab

There's quite an argument going on in the normally placid environs of Trollhattan as the Vastra Gotaland local authorities try to prise around US$12m more out of Saab's hands.

The issue relates to Saab's transition phase from General Motors ownership to that of Dutch sportscar maker Spyker, when the regional government agreed to cover the wages of 3,000 or so workers for three months - a total of SEK305m.

Vastra Gotaland said Saab should pay SEK110m as part of that salary payment, but the manufacturer insists the deal thrashed out at a creditors' meeting meant it only had to repay a quarter of that amount.

While the regional government concedes the manufacturer has repaid SEK27m, it is nonetheless seeking what it claims is a remaining SEK83m.

Saab is having none of it however, defiantly maintaining it has complied with all that was required, with the inevitable result the issue will now proceed to a government enforcement agency - the tough-sounding 'Kronofogdan,' body that will examine the case next week.

As a newly-integrated brand within Spyker the last thing Saab needs is to have to cough up $12m and although the amount may not be enormous, the manufacturer surely now wants to break free from that interregnum between GM and its now Dutch owners - and move on.

But this one looks likely to run and run. Vastra Gotaland deputy governor Goran Bendtsson told just-auto the issue could now proceed through labyrinthine layers of bureaucracy.

And just for good measure, he added rather fatalistically with the resigned air of one who knows these things all too well: "Of course the politicians could decide to change the rules."

The one voice that has been remarkably quiet about the whole matter is Spyker. It appears it wants to keep an arm's length from the whole Swedish gamut of enforcers and bureaucracy, simply noting: "This is a Saab matter."

And it is also presumably hoping whatever Saab decides to do given the matter will pass to the Kronofogdan, it marks the very last echo of the previous regime and allows all parties to finally move on.