Saab Deal Backed By Russian Cash After All [UPDATED]

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
saab deal backed by russian cash after all updated

In the confusion of the recent Saab-Spyker deal, an interesting tidbit has flown beneath the radar until recently. Most industry news outlets [ ourselves included] had reported that Spyker’s backing from Russia’s Conversbank had given GM intellectual property nightmares, and that the deal had gone through with backing from other corners. Not so, it turns out. Bloomberg [via BusinessWeek] reports that Alexander Antonov confirms his bank supplied the first $25m in payments to GM. A strange turn of events, considering Russian backing for Magna’s failed Opel bid (and GM’s attendant IP paranoia) was said to have scuttled the deal (and that didn’t even have Convers’s bizarre Chechen blood feud connection).

How did they make it work? Antonov reportedly can not become a shareholder in Saab-Spyker until 2016, when GM’s remaining shares in the company are scheduled to be redeemed. According to The Local, this arrangement is courtesy of an FBI “demand” “whereby [Antonov] can not return to Spyker without the prior consent of the US car firm.” Antonov the younger has sought to clear his name in an NY Times op-ed, and Izvestia [via RIA Novosti] is even calling out GM for anti-Russian bias (even though it seems to have been shared by the FBI and Swedish Authorities). Meanwhile, Spyker only needs $50m more by July to complete the deal, and that’s a steal for access to GM’s latest midsized platform.

UPDATE: Antonov fires back in Automotive News [sub], saying:

In response to all this noise in the media we have retaliated by hiring a large and globally renowned investigation agency which has former FBI and CIA agents among its employees.

They are doing a report which will be ready in two to three weeks. The agency is investigating whether the business of (myself) and family has any criminal links and will issue assessments backed by documents in response to all accusations against us.

Antonov says he will loan as much as $100m to Spyker CEO Victor Muller’s hedge fund Tenaci, and that he hopes the investigation will allow him to become a part owner of Saab-Spyker prior to the 2016 GM pullout. But, he says, “it would all depend on GM. We can quietly come back to the issue when the investigation agency submits the report and if GM removes its concerns.”

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2 of 7 comments
  • Lokki Lokki on Feb 19, 2010

    Was supposed to be joke .... What's the difference between having a Russian billionare backing SAAB and a Nigerian scam...?

  • Porschespeed Porschespeed on Feb 19, 2010

    The Nigerian has more integrity and is less likely to have you assassinated for speaking against him?

  • Master Baiter "...but the driver must be ready to step in and take control. The system is authorized for use during the day but at speeds lower than 40 mph..."Translation: It's basically useless, and likely more stressful than piloting the car ones's self.
  • Alan My friend has a Toyota Kluger (made in 'murica). A Highlander. These things are based on a Camry platform. I have driven the Kluger we had at work and I find them quite boring even for a SUV. An appliance. I hope this will deliver some driving pleasure. I found the Camry a better boring vehicle.
  • Alan Most Lexii look good to reasonable.....................until you see the front ends with their awkward grilles. It actually would look normal on a GWM, LDV or any other Chinese vehicle.
  • Tassos These last months, every day seems to be another great, consequential piece of news for Tesla, who does not just DOMINATE, it OWNS the US and FREE WORLD BEV market.It is the ONLY (repeat ONLY) maker that builds its huge best sellers at a PROFIT, ie, SUSTAINABLY. FOrd EV is bleeding 3 billion in losses. GM hides theirs, and I bet they are even HIGHER. VW has spent a huge no of billions and its ID series has been an UTTER FAILURE.Toyota, already 12 years too late, is yet to try. I doubt they will succeed to dethrone TESLA.
  • Tassos Again: I never took VOlvo seriously in the last 20 or so years.Chinese Volvo-Geely has a dizzying number of models, I have lost count how many,YET its sales and market share in the US has always been DISMAL these last 20 years.It ranges from a pathetic 0.5% to 0.8% of the US market.For comparison, Toyota has 15% and GM has even more. Tesla has almost 10 TIMES VOlvo's share, with a PITTANCE of really TWO Models, the 3 and the Y, as the S and the X hardly sell any copies any more.So why do we keep reading articles about Stupid VOlvo?Because they have the best PR department of any maker.