Create a free account to continue

Swedish Government, Unions Meet To Save Saab

Government officials held an emergency meeting with unions and local authorities on Monday to prepare for closure of main plant of General Motors' Saab unit.

STOCKHOLM (AP) -- The Swedish government held an emergency meeting with unions on Monday to prepare for the closure of carmaker Saab's main plant, despite news that General Motors Co. has received more inquiries about the unit.

Enterprise Minister Maud Olofsson said the government will allocate an extra 542 million kronor ($74.6 million) for labor market initiatives in southwestern Sweden, where Saab now employs around 3,200 people.

She said she hoped that GM would find a solution to save Saab, but expressed doubt it would be possible at this stage.

"I want to point out that it is very late, the timetable is very limited, and that also means it is a very, very difficult situation," Olofsson said.

GM on Sunday said it had received several inquiries about Saab after its announcement Friday that it would wind down the brand.

It said it would evaluate the inquiries, which include a renewed offer from Spyker Cars of the Netherlands. Spyker has given GM until Monday evening to decide whether or not to accept the new offer.

The government said the labor market initiatives would be directed at education, job training and boosting entrepreneurship and innovation in southwestern Sweden.

The measures were announced after a meeting between Olofsson and representatives from Saab, labor unions and local authorities from the southwestern town of Trollhattan, where Saab's main plant is located.

GM officials did not participate in the meeting.

GM bought a 50 percent stake and management control of Saab for $600 million in 1989 and gained full ownership in 2000 for $125 million more.

In February, the Swedish brand went into creditor protection in an effort by GM to sell the unit before the end of the year.

A consortium led by Swedish sports car maker Koenigsegg Automotive AB signed a preliminary deal to buy the brand in June but dropped out in November. After that Spyker emerged as the main bidder, but a first round of talks with them collapsed last week.

Olofsson said GM has not provided any details about how a closure of the plant in Trollhattan would be carried out, but said she expects workers to receive redundancy payments according to their contracts and Swedish labor laws.

This could mean up to six months pay for some employees after negotiations with unions have been concluded, she said.

More in Operations