COMMENT: Antonov pulls Saab property offer - will he return?

By Simon Warburton | 15 June 2011

Saab is still there, still fighting, but the news Russian businessman Vladimir Antonov has pulled his proposal to buy Saab property is yet another twist in the automaker's tortuous saga.

You can hear the frustration in Antonov's holding company director Lars Carlstrom's voice as he outlines the apparent difficulties in persuading the European Investment Bank [EIB] to approve his application.

Antonov is not walking away from Saab. Far from it, he seems to remain extraordinarily keen on working with the Swedish manufacturer - but perhaps not through the auspices of the EIB.

"There have been so many complications in terms of the EIB and Swedish government in the approval process, so it seems easier for Saab to sell the property to an external investor," Carlstrom told just-auto.

"Before he [Antonov] was involved with the property sale, but not now. The EIB has not come back to us - we have decided to pull out in terms of the property investment. But we are still interested in becoming an investor."

No less an august body than the Swedish National Debt Office (SNDO) pronounced itself satisfied with Antonov's application to underwrite EUR30m (US$42.8m) that would have given him a 29.9% stake, but the silence from the Luxembourg-based EIB seems to tell its own story.

Meanwhile, the Trollhättan lines are yet again eerily quiet and will remain so for the rest of this week, while Saab wrestles with its myriad financial jigsaw pieces.

And yet again, supplier issues seem to be at the heart of the latest stoppage.

Antonov is thwarted - for now - but can he pull a further rabbit from the hat and persuade those same suppliers Saab is a long-term bet with some new financial initiative?