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UPDATE: Saab could pay salaries this week

Troubled auto maker receives $13 million order from unnamed Chinese company


June 27, 2011
by The Canadian Press

STOCKHOLM—Car maker Saab Automobile AB has received a $13-million order from a Chinese company that could help pay this month’s salaries

Saab says the deal with an unnamed Chinese company would also provide enough funds to pay back parts of its debt to suppliers.

Last week, Saab said it had run out of cash to pay its 3,700 workers, raising doubts over how long the brand could survive.

Saab spokesman Eric Geers says the company hopes a prepayment from the Chinese company for the cars will allow it to pay the salaries, which were due last Friday.

Swedish Automobile, which bought Saab from General Motors Co. last year, says it continues to hold talks with several parties to raise more cash for the brand. It is also considering selling and leasing back Saab’s real estate.

Shares in the company rose by 22.8 per cent to $1.20 on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange.

Hakan Skott, chairman of metalworkers union IF Metall, says his organization is still working toward filing a payment request to Saab this week, demanding the company to “react” within seven days.

The Swedish Enforcement Authority says it received a payment claim Monday of nearly $6.9 million against Saab from the supplier International Automotive Components.

The authority’s spokesman, Fredric Orloff, says it is the biggest claim so far against Saab, out of a total of 68 filings.

Geers also says two union members and Saab’s General Counsel Kristina Geers have resigned from the board of Saab Automobile, leaving Swedish Automobile CEO Victor Muller the only board member.

“We very much regret the current cash shortage, which is causing undeserved hardship to all and we are working relentlessly to resolve the current situation,” Muller says.

Muller says Russian businessman Vladimir Antonov is still interested in investing in Saab, but has yet to receive approval from the European Investment Bank. Antonov says he is prepared to invest between $50 million to $150 million in Saab.

“We are pushing hard to obtain this vital clearance as soon as practically possible,” Muller says.