Saab Deal Backed By Russian Cash After All [UPDATED]

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?

  • ToolGuy 16.9 gallon fuel tank (~15 usable in the real world) combined with abysmal fuel economy means the range of your girlfriend's EV will look pretty good by comparison. 😉
  • ToolGuy Cadillac should make a list of everyone who gets excited by this announcement, and never listen to those people again.
  • Jkross22 My use case is perfect for an EV. I drive about 10 miles/day tops, have a home so I can recharge at night, love how much more efficient an EV is over its ICE counterpart and love the instant torque, quietness, lack of moving parts/reliability/cost of maintenance. I'm the poster child for EV ownership.But I don't have one and don't see buying one anytime soon. As intriguing as they are, there is no way in Haiti I'm dropping 50 large minimum to buy one. Not gonna happen. The Bolt looks like a toe, I really don't like Tesla interiors, I love the Lucid and Polestar 2, the H/K electrics are interesting but look at the price of all of these.
  • ToolGuy The only good thing about this car is the wheelbase.
  • MaintenanceCosts So someone really did build that car I drew while not paying attention in second grade. Too bad they screwed it up so badly.