SWEDEN: GM lukewarm on Antonov clearing by Debt Office
General Motors has given a decidedly lukewarm reaction to today's [28 April] decision to allow Russian businessman Vladimir Antonov to become a shareholder in troubled Saab.
Antonov and Saab chairman Victor Muller both issued bullish reactions to the news the Swedish National Debt Office (SNDO) had found no reason to doubt Antonov, but GM issued a statement laced with caveats that still makes the situation not completely certain.
"GM continues to be in active discussions with both Saab and the EIB and has reached a tentative agreement with Saab on a construct which could allow for Vladimir Antonov's acquisition of a shareholder interest in Saab, but that tentative agreement requires certain specific actions to be taken by Saab which have not yet been completed, as well as certain formal consents, approvals and waivers which Saab has not yet obtained," said the GM statement.
"GM will continue to work with all parties to facilitate a solution to Saab's current business challenges."
However, Muller issued his own highly-upbeat reaction to the SNDO news that he says should permit a raft of further financing deals.
"This is a great day for our company and for me personally," said Muller. "We worked relentlessly for 11 months to achieve the desired result: restore the reputation of Vladimir Antonov, who made so many valuable contributions to Spyker since 2007 as financier and shareholder.
"We are convinced he will be able to make such contributions again in the near future and look forward to the decisions of the Swedish Government, GM and the European Investment Bank (EIB), following the recommendation of the NDO which was the result of intense scrutinising."
However, Spyker and Saab continue to work on securing funding with the latter still talking to the EIB to complete the sale of Saab Property, although it is not yet certain whether all conditions from the EIB can be fulfilled.
In addition, Spyker and Saab are negotiating equity and debt financing and/or technology licensing with various partners including some Chinese car manufacturers, although no commitments have been received to date.
"The past months of speculation around me as an individual investor and my businesses has been exhausting," said Antonov. "Clearly this has been a disturbing factor for many of my businesses. Finally we have managed to obtain a clean bill of health and we need to move fast forward to secure the cash flow of Saab.
"I hope all involved parties now further take on their responsibility so we can close all processes fast to secure the future of Saab Automobile."
The SNDO earlier told just-auto it had hired a private investigator to evaluate various rumours surrounding Antonov, but had found nothing untoward.