EIB rejects Russian as investor in Saab: report

28th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

The European Investment Bank on Thursday confirmed a loan to Swedish carmaker Saab was approved on condition Russian businessman Vladimir Antonov did not take over, a report said.

"The EIB is confirming that a loan to Saab... was given under the condition that Vladimir Antonov was not given the opportunity to take ownership in Saab," EIB spokesman Paer Isaksson told Swedish news agency TT.

He added the EIB had informed the Swedish authorities of the condition at the start of the project evaluation in 2009.

Antonov, a former shareholder in Saab's new owner Spyker and controversial figure because of concerns over his business dealings and rumours of ties to organised crime, has repeatedly said he wanted a stake in Saab.

He was approved as an investor earlier this year by Sweden's National Debt Office.

The EIB gave a 400-million-euro ($580-million) loan to the cash-strapped carmaker, and the NDO also had a say in ownership changes because Sweden guaranteed the loan.

Antonov's Swedish spokesman said the businessman had been informed he could not take a stake in Saab.

"We have intensified efforts to find alternative financing solutions and let this process for his approval by the bank and Sweden go, because it's completely meaningless," Lars Carlstroem told the TV4 West news station.

Saab's production has been stalled on and off since April as the carmaker scrambles to find the cash to pay its suppliers.

It announced Tuesday it would have to delay paying the wages of its white-collar employees.

Iconic Swedish brand Saab was saved at the last minute at the beginning of 2010 when it was bought by small Dutch firm Spyker from US giant GM.

The new owner had big ambitions for Saab but the carmaker has since then lurched from one cash crisis to another.

© 2011 AFP

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