In its annual report released yesterday (31 April), Saab owner Spyker's CEO Victor Muller used some colourful metaphors to describe the Swedish automaker, which it's fair to say hasn't had the best of weeks.

An unplanned stoppage due to a dispute with International Automotive Components (IAC) saw Saab shut down production and led to what appears to be a flurry of calls from other anxious suppliers, keen that bills would be paid on time.

Problem solved, Saab assured just-auto today (1 April), although it conceded there could be "hiccups" in the short-term as nervous suppliers looked closely at the Swedish manufacturer.

"It is possible we run into a few hiccups during the coming days as a result of this, but we are confident we can get back to a normal flow from all our suppliers within a short time," was Saab's memorable way of putting it from Sweden.

And those potential "hiccups" have caught the attention of the rather severe sounding 'Sweden's National Debt Office,' which has hardly given Saab the most ringing of endorsements.

That same Debt Office confirmed it had approved a guarantee of EUR217m (US$305m) to Saab as part of a EUR400m loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB), but then followed up with an observation that could only come from a financial institution.

"In case of bankruptcy of Saab, they would be very easy to sell because it was a condition for the guarantee that Saab made some structural changes," a Debt Office spokeswoman brightly told just-auto.

It appears the Debt Office has not thrown its money about wildly, insisting Saab agree to some structural changes before it agreed to guarantee the EIB money.

This included Saab putting its tooling into a separate company, because as the spokeswoman noted: "You have more than 1m Saabs out there and that is worth most of the money."

And just in case Saab was in any doubt the the cash could be recouped: "And we have all the real estate in Trollhattan."

However, this week's last word on Saab has to go to Spyker's ebullient, charismatic and, frankly, optimistic CEO Victor Muller.

"I have compared Saab often to a beautiful lion who grew up in captivity," he begins somewhat startlingly. "One day that lion is loaded on to a truck and released in the vast savannahs of Africa.

"That mighty animal has to learn how to hunt for its own prey and support himself. Being used to receiving his meals in a stainless bowl, that lion has some serious challenges adapting to his new-found freedom."

What's the boss mean here? The rest of his discourse relates all the reassuring restructuring history of Saab since its sale from GM, its task to "regain the trust of suppliers" - ironic in this week - the new 9-5 and diesel engines, new global distribution et cetera before noting honestly: "However, we have far from arrived."

Saab has an enormous reservoir of global good will, almost everyone is willing it to make a success of it, even the Swedish Debt Office.

But can it survive without its stainless bowl?

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