Strap on the man-pants, Saab fans, because there’s another heaping load of bad news for the Swedish brand this morning. First off, Saab’s mysterious Russian backer Vladimir Antonov has backed out of a deal in which he was to buy property at Saab’s Trollhättan plant and lease it back to the company, stabilizing its short-term cash position. Automotive News [sub] quotes an Antonov rep as saying
The property sale is now being discussed with external investors
Apparently the Swedish real estate investor Hemfosa has stepped into the breach and sources say a deal could happen quickly. Antonov’s man added that his boss was still interested in securing a shareholding in Saab, a move that has been awaiting approval by the European Investment Bank for some time now. But despite Antonov’s insistence that he’s not going anywhere, the real estate deal pullout is troubling. After all, if Antonov were really the Saab zealot he claims to be, willing to support and revamp the brand at any cost, wouldn’t he want to own the Trollhättan plant? Wouldn’t he want deed to the factory in case Saab, as it exists now, goes into bankruptcy? This is the first indication that Antonov is treating his Saab involvement as an investment rather than a crusade, which is frankly a bad sign for what’s left of the Swedish brand. On the other hand, with Chinese firms chopping up Saab, what’s a businessman to do?