Three final bids for bankrupt Saab were submitted last night (10 April) to its Gothenburg receivers, with union sources maintaining the automaker’s beleaguered workforce is still owed a considerable amount of money.
As expected, the three finalists are believed to be Mahindra & Mahindra, Youngman and an as-yet unnamed consortium from Japan and China, widely thought to be involved with electric vehicles, with the receivers now taking the next 10 weeks to evaluate the proposals.
However, as always with Saab, the issue is mired in complexity as the automaker is carrying a colossal debt of around US$2bn with assets thought only to be worth some US$531m.
Equally, any Chinese bid would be subject to government National Development and Reform Commission approval, while there remains the ever-present issue of General Motors’ technology licensing.
Even Saab’s meagre assets could be swallowed up as the Swedish government has pledges in the parts and tooling business which it took after paying off a guarantee to the European Investment Bank of US$325m.
It also transpires much of the workforce still has payments outstanding beyond the maximum SEK171,000 state aid.
“Our members are still owed a lot of money,” IF Metall legal adviser Darko Davidovic told just-auto from Sweden. “This SEK171,000 does not even cover the half – when you have a [monthly] salary of SEK25,000 it is more like SEK45,000 as they have to pay for taxes, insurance funds and pensions.
“It is not possible for Saab to pay that money – it is totally out of the question – the assets are SEK3.5bn and the debt is SEK14bn.
IF Metall had around 1,500 blue collar workers at Saab’s Trollhattan plant and although Davidovic said some had secured new employment, the union was still “really working hard” to find new jobs for the rest.
A small avenue of work may come from partly-finished Saabs that can be cannibalised for spare parts in Trollhattan and used to fulfil the demand for repair after the Swedish winter – a process IF Metall estimates could employ around 30 people.
IF Metall added it was in “weekly” contact with the three other main Saab unions as potential new buyers are evaluated.
Neither the receivers in Gothenburg or Youngman was immediately available for comment.