“It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good,” goes the old adage.
You would be hard pressed to find any plus points emanating from Japan’s triple whammy of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown, but Saab’s predicament might provide a rare case.
Were Saab’s production lines shut down in the middle of April because it can’t pay its bills, or because of supply interruptions in the aftermath of Japan’s disaster?
Output at Trollhattan, Sweden, was suspended in the week ending April 8, with Saab saying this was because of lack of supplies. But later it transpired that Saab was facing short-term liquidity problems, and towards the middle of April rumours began to circulate that Spyker Cars, which owns Saab, might sell property owned by Saab to Russian investor Vladimir Antonov, who might lease them back in return for a short-term cash injection.
Antonov recently said he was keen to invest €50 million in Saab. His participation in the original deal when Saab was sold by GM was vetoed on the grounds that he had been implicated in money laundering. Antonov denied this.
Saab first suspended production on March 29, when suppliers said they hadn’t been paid.
Neil Winton – April 15, 2011