Saab is to reorganise under a Swedish court process to become independent, sustainable and “suitable for investment” but stressed it would require independent funding to succeed. It also said there should be no impact on other GM operations.

It would bring design, engineering and manufacturing back to Sweden and planned to launch three new models in the next 18 months.

The move follows General Motors’ decision effectively to cut Saab loose. The Swedish firm on Friday said in a statement the reorganisation would be a self-managed, Swedish legal process headed by an independent administrator appointed by the court who would work closely with the Saab management team.

“As part of the process, Saab will formulate its proposal for reorganisation, which will include the concentration of design, engineering and manufacturing in Sweden,” Saab’s board said in a statement.

“This proposal will be presented to creditors within three weeks of the filing. Pending court approval, the reorganisation will be executed over a three-month period and will require independent funding to succeed.

“We explored and will continue to explore all available options for funding and/or selling Saab and it was determined a formal reorganisation would be the best way to create a truly independent entity that is ready for investment,” said Saab Automobile managing director Jan Ake Jonsson.

“With an all new 9-5, 9-3X and 9-4X all ready for launch over the next year and a half, Saab has an excellent foundation for strong growth, assuming we can get the funding to complete engineering, tooling and manage launch costs.

Reorganisation will give us the time and means that help get these products to market while minimising the liquidity impact of Saab on GM.”

Funding for the restructured company would need to be secured during the reorganisation process and would be sought from both public and private sources.

Swedish daily Dagens Industri on Friday said that parent GM was prepared to pump in US$400m to help make the Saab car unit profitable if the Swedish state guaranteed a further loan of US$590m to Saab, according to Reuters.

Part of the money would be used to launch new models and part to cover the loss made by Saab last year. The goal was to reach annual sales of 120,000-130,000 vehicles [it was only about 93,000 last year and sales plunged 38% to just 17,900 cars in the fourth quarter], which would make the firm profitable by 2011 or 2012, Dagens Industri said, quoting unnamed sources.

Saab said it would continue to operate as usual and in accordance with the formal reorganisation process, with the Swedish government providing some support during this period.

“The reorganisation should have no impact on other GM operations. Details of the progress will be provided as milestones are achieved,” Saab said.

There had been plans to build some future Saab models at Opel’s Ruesselsheim plant near Frankfurt and recent models have shared platforms and some components with GM Europe Opel models. Saab also builds a variant of its 9-3 – the BLS sedan and wagon – sold here in Europe as an entry-level Cadillac.

GM bought 50% of Saab in 1989 and took full control in 2000.