Saab's application for bankruptcy protection has been thrown out by a Swedish court, although the automaker says it will appeal.

The news will come as a hammer blow to Saab, which could now be the subject of bankruptcy applications from its powerful unions, which so far have held back from taking further action.

Unusually, the District Court of Vanersborg that heard the appeal had three judges sitting instead of the usual single arbiter, an indication, a spokeswoman said, of the gravity of Saab's situation, that now potentially puts around 4,000 jobs at risk in Trollhattan.

"We have said 'no' to the Saab reconstruction," a the spokeswoman in Vanersborg told just-auto. "They have not specified enough the reasons where they are supposed to get money, when and how this money is supposed to save this business in the long run.

"They have the right of appeal up to three weeks from today. It was not an easy decision - normally we make a decision on the same day - in this case the material was such it took some time to go through."

Despite the seriousness of Saab's predicament, the spokeswoman insisted no pressure had been brought to bear on the process which she said was "completely independent" from government.

However, the spokeswoman added the three judges involved had made an "active choice" not to read newspapers or listen to the radio in order not to be influenced by outside sources.

"The judges said it was a heavy decision, that they knew how much the surrounding areas depend on Saab," said the spokeswoman. "They are also confident if comes to a bankruptcy for Saab, which is not clear, the surrounding neighbourhood has enough competence to survive."

Saab confirmed it would appeal against the court's ruling: "Saab Automobile is disappointed with the ruling and will appeal the District Court's decision," the automaker said in a statement.