Spyker In Talks To Sell Saab Real Estate

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Spyker Cars N.V. announced Monday that it is in talks with a financial institution to sell and lease back Saab Automobile's real estate in order to the strengthen the troubled carmaker's finances.

Spyker, which bought Saab from General Motors Corp. last year, said the outcome of the discussions is still uncertain and subject to the Swedish National Debt Office's approval, but that further announcements are expected shortly.

Production at Saab's Trollhattan plant in southwest Sweden has been at a standstill for more than a week after suppliers complained about unpaid bills and concerns have been raised about the car brand's liquidity.

At the end of March, Russian businessman Vladimir Antonov applied to the Swedish debt office to become a shareholder in Saab, a move which could lead to an injection of new capital.

Debt office spokeswoman Unni Jerndal on Monday dismissed reports over the weekend that Antonov had been cleared as a Saab stakeholder.

She said the debt office is still reviewing Antonov's application along with the potential property sale and other possible solutions for Saab.

Antonov, who used to part-own Spyker, was forced out as a condition set by GM for its Saab sale to Spyker. The company declined to disclose reasons for the demand.

The Swedish debt office is involved because the Swedish government guaranteed a $550 million loan from the European Investment Bank to Saab as part of Spyker's takeover.

Analysts have said they see disaster looming for the loss-making, debt-ridden company, but Spyker chief executive Victor Muller last week insisted the company was not on the verge of collapse. He described the production standstill as "a small glitch."

Shares in Spyker rose by 2.49 percent to €4.2 ($6.1) on the Euronext Amsterdam exchange early Monday.