Any plans by Saab to pay off its loan with the European Investment Bank (EIB) would be "welcome" says the Luxembourg-based financial operation.

The Swedish automaker was originally granted EUR400m (US$568m) by the EIB, with the Swedish National Debt Office (SNDO) being the guarantor.

However, in a bid to raise cash earlier, a consortium of Swedish real estate investors led by Hemfosa Fastigheter bought 50.1% of the shares in Saab Automobile Property - a transaction valued at SEK255m.

In order to allow Saab Automobile to sell the property, the SNDO was requested to release its pledge in the shares of Saab Property, with the guarantee reduced by EUR120m.

But plans by Saab to involve Russian businessman Vladimir Antonov in helping with liquidity, appear to have been quashed by the bank, who noted it "had been the policy of the EIB to not accept Mr Antonov taking part in the ownership structure of Saab."

Despite the apparent setback, the EIB is nonetheless leaving the door open for Saab to pay off its existing loan, should funds be available.

"We would welcome if the loan is paid in full," an EIB spokesman told just-auto. "It is impossible to speculate what might or might not happen.

"Saab is a client of ours - we do have an R&D programme which we are financing."

For its part, Saab continues to remain baffled as to why Antonov was rejected by the EIB, citing an investigation by the SNDO which cleared the Russian of earlier business rumours.

"We have not had any official decision or any sort of official indication from the EIB where they stand," a Saab spokeswoman in Sweden told just-auto.

"Still, if the answer is no, then we are still puzzled as to why not. The NDO went through its investigation and found no basis as to the rumours. So the question remains, what's the problem?"

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