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Geely denies Saab interest

By Simon Johnson | China Daily | Updated: 2011-10-08 08:03

STOCKHOLMSTOCKHOLM - The owner of Volvo AB cars, China 's Geely Holding Group, said it has no plans to seek ownership of struggling car maker Saab AB, denying a Swedish newspaper report on Thursday.

Saab has scarcely produced a car for six months and is in desperate need of money under a court-backed restructuring under creditor protection legislation.

However, a loan of 70 million euros ($93 million) guaranteed by China's Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co has yet to come through.

Dagens Nyheter newspaper, citing an unnamed source, reported that Youngman many want to pull out of the deal and its agreement to put money into Saab in the longer term.

"But Geely is interested in the whole thing, in terms of production and development," the newspaper quoted a source as saying.

Lawrence Ang, executive director of Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd, the Hong Kong-listed arm of Geely, denied the newspaper report.

"According to my understanding, we have no such plan," Ang said, adding that Geely was busy after taking over Volvo.

Saab spokeswoman Gunilla Gustavs declined to comment.

The newspaper said Geely, which bought Saab's Swedish peer Volvo in 2010, had approached Saab's court-appointed administrator.

Industry analyst Ian Fletcher at the researcher IHS said a tie-up would not make sense.

"Volvo and Saab have, effectively, been fighting for the same space for years. I think, ultimately, Volvo would welcome Saab's exit."

He said Geely did not need extra capacity in Sweden and could easily do without Saab's technology.

"I just really can't see any reason why they would get involved," he said.

Saab has lurched from one crisis to another and shut down in April, unable to pay its suppliers who are owed more than 150 million euros.

The company applied to the courts for creditor protection in August when it was unable to pay its workers.

Before China's Youngman and Pangda Automobile Trade Co agreed to invest in Saab, the Trollhattan-based family saloon maker had announced a deal with the country's Hawtai Motor Group, which also fell through.

Swedish Automobile NV, then known as Spyker NV, bought Saab from General Motors Co in early 2010, just as it was emerging from another period of creditor protection.

Swedish Automobile's sale of its Spyker sportscar arm to the Russian investor Vladimir Antonov also fell through.

It has now agreed to sell the arm to a private equity firm.


(China Daily 10/08/2011 page10)

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