European automotive supplier group CLEPA says the Swedish government could have to sell off several component divisions should the struggling automaker finally go bankrupt.

CLEPA CEO Lars Holmqvist made the comments to just-auto on the sidelines of its annual aftermarket conference in Brussels, as Saab attempts to keep afloat and pay its employees’ November salaries.

The bankruptcy scenario could be hastened as speculation is swirling today (24 November) that Saab will delay its next salary payments – a situation its weary unions have faced many times before – but which was alleviated by the Swedish government stepping in to pay wages for three months.

Saab is on the brink as it wrestles with the challenge of convincing former owner and licence holder, General Motors, of a new ownership structure involving Chinese companies Youngman and Pang Da.

Should Saab go bankrupt however, the Swedish government will be anxious to try and claw back some of the EUR280m (US$375m) it guaranteed the European Investment Bank (EIB) as part of a loan deal.

According to CLEPA, this could see elements such as Saab Tools, Saab Powertrain and Saab Components sold to ease the stress on the Swedish taxpayer although the government would still be liable to pay employees for a six-month period.

“[The Swedish government has] to pay the EIB what Saab owes them [in the event of bankruptcy],” Holmqvist told just-auto. “They will be involved in any bankruptcy by default, they can’t avoid it and the finance minister will probably try and sell it if there is nobody brave enough to buy it.

“Saab has never made money and now they have shot themselves, not in one foot but in both feet. They can’t supply and the workers are unhappy. It needs good management and masses of money.”

Holmqvist also hinted his members, who are estimated to be owed EUR150m, could be creditors of a far larger amount if Saab fails although the likely figure is not clear.

“We have a great interest in getting our money back,” the CLEPA chief said. “It is much more than EUR150m, it is a lot more. If you really have to write it off [debt], it is much, much bigger.”

Holmqvist was due to have a telephone discussion with Saab CEO Victor Muller this afternoon to be updated on the latest situation at the automaker.