By on April 21, 2011

The Swedish National Debt Office has approved Saab’s deal to sell property to its Russian backer, Vladimir Antonov, but the Swedish firm is still waiting on approval of the deal from the European Investment Bank. Saab’s production operations have been shut down for two weeks, since the automaker began having trouble paying its suppliers. The EIB says its must simply review the deal, which would include the sale of Saab’s property to an Antonov-owned bank as well as the release of the remainder of Saab’s EIB loan, although GM gets to review the deal as well before it goes through according to And since GM has long opposed Antonov taking a large share of Saab, which owns rights to some of its latest technology, Saab is reportedly also talking to several Chinese firms about partnerships that could save the struggling automaker.

Automotive News [sub] reports that Saab CEO Victor Muller

said Saab was talking to a wide range of Chinese automakers about a tie-up to help the carmaker weather its current crisis. He did not name those potential partners, but described them as “niche players and big boys.”

But Muller added that teaming up with a large manufacturer was more difficult for a smaller brand like Saab. Partnering with a local niche player would give Saab a stronger voice.

So, who is Saab talking to? An obvious candidate is Beijing Motor, which nearly bought Saab and ended up purchasing some of its older tooling for outdated versions of the 9-5 and 9-3. But Reuters reports that Beijing’s CEO denied any talks with Saab at the New York Auto Show. Reports indicate that Saab is in talks with “at least” two Chinese automakers, although Saab did recently close a deal with China Automobile Trading Company, to become the Swedish brand’s new Chinese importer.

With Antonov’s stake increase dragging through different levels of European government approval, Saab wants to get its workers back on site in Troellhattan by Wednesday of next week. With sales already suffering, production shortages of new vehicles will be brutal on the company. But if Antonov’s stake gets held up by the EIB or GM, Saab may have no choice but to turn to China for help. With SAIC rehabbing the once-moribund Rover-MG remnants to hesitant British approval, and Volvo moving forward under the Geely umbrella, the prospect of selling a European brand to the Chinese isn’t as scary as it once was. But, with the Chinese firms investing ever more in their own brands, will Saab even find a white knight in the Middle Kingdom? There are no guarantees in this business…

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12 Comments on “Saab Still Waiting For Rescue Approval, Now Looking To China?...”

  • avatar

    Just another Saab story.

  • avatar

    Note to SAAB. Do not rely solely on the Chinese to bail you out. MG was rescued, but only after the main UK production facility was mothballed whilst production in China was established. Now MG is having to rebuild it’s once mighty UK distribution network and only carries out final assembly in the UK. Whilst China may offer a good long term future, short/ medium term it will hurt SAAB.

    SAAB should look at the alternatives. How about an Indian partner like Mahindra or TATA? And how about making cars for other people in Sweden?

    • 0 avatar

      How about just closing the thing down. Looking at Saab like a human patient, even if it survives it will have no quality of life.

    • 0 avatar

      You make it sound like MG had great alternatives. And the reality is that MG took so long to return because the platforms and brands were separated when MG failed so Nanjing Auto owned the MG brand but SAIC had acquired the platforms from MG Rover. So it wasn’t until Nanjing and SAIC merged that they really began working on the current MG models.
      And frankly I think it’s unfair to blame the Chinese. MG Rover was parted out to various buyers so how could anybody have kept the old plants going? Not to mention that anybody who kept going down that path would have just ended up rebankrupting MG.

      Honestly i’m not sure the Chinese even want Saab at this point. BAIC was interested a couple years back but now Saab’s even more expensive to fix and less valuable since the tech has aged more. There aren’t exactly q ton of bidders fighting over Saab and I honestly cannot think of a good Chinese suitor. All the big players either already own foreign IP they wanted or have other partnerships in place already.

  • avatar

    Pseudologia fantastica!

    It would be great and completely unexpected if Saab could be saved. I don’t mind if someon (is xxx enough) to invest their own money in a money pit such as Saab. But not my tax-money.

  • avatar

    Why? I think MG are actually making some decent cars now and have a bright future. Same could apply for SAAB. As a car fan I want SAAB to find a way to survive.

  • avatar

    The SAAB dealer next to where I live has never had so many factory-fresh SAABs on his yard as there are now – as long as I can remember. I think, both dealers and customers are regaining their trust in the future of the brand – a trust that the devoted SAAB enthusiasts have never lost. 
    SAAB is in a difficult situation and it will be for some time – but there is a niche for this iconic brand in the marketplace. Let’s not forget that the crisis of 2008 has brought with it deep and far reaching irritations to the automotive industry; the business is about to change – and a small player like SAAB will more easily adapt to these changes than the big aircraft carriers – even if they look much more formidable.
    The present situation is an incredible challenge to the New SAAB – but I’m sure we’ll shortly see the brand at the avantgarde of the industry.

    • 0 avatar

      Did you ever think that maybe the reason the dealer has so many cars on the lot is because he isn’t selling any? Saab lacks size, money and appealing product. What is their place in the industry? Plus they are probably controlled by the Russian mob, what more can a customer ask for in a car?

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      Small and nimble has never been the winning formula for automotive manufacturing, or for manufacturing of any consumer good.

  • avatar

    At first GM just wanted to shut Saab down.  Then, at the last minute, they sold it to Spyker.  Now, it seems they still want to have a say in how the company operates.  I wish they could simply divest themselves of their investment and get out of the way of Saab trying to move forward.

    • 0 avatar

      GM put so much of their own tech into SAAB, the only way they can walk away without seeing that tech in other hands is by buying it back and shutting it down, something they should have done originally, or just have made it a division of Opel, where GM has the same problem. If GM wants to protect its inellectual property from Antonov, it’ll have to jump back in.

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