China's BAIC Joins Saab Takeover

STOCKHOLM (AP) -- China's Beijing Automotive Industry Holdings has struck a preliminary deal to become a minority stakeholder in Koenigsegg Group AB, boosting the luxury car maker's efforts to take over Saab Automobile from General Motors Corp.

Koenigsegg, which had been looking for additional financing to complete its takeover of Saab, said in a statement Wednesday that the Chinese automaker had signed a memorandum of understanding to become "a non-controlling minority shareholder in Koenigsegg Group."

"This is an important step on the road to a new Saab Automobile. We have a solid business plan, an important partnership and we are now in a position to go ahead without any governmental financing," said Christian von Koenigsegg, the CEO of Koenigsegg Group.

The deal was intended "to explore growth opportunities in the Chinese and international markets for the products of Saab Automobile and BAIC," the statement said, adding it was expected to be completed later this year.

No financial details were disclosed.

Angelholm, Sweden-based Koenigsegg said in August that it needed about 3 billion kronor ($425 million) to conclude the acquisition of Saab.

At the same time, documents filed with the Swedish Companies Registration Office revealed that San Diego-based investor Mark Bishop had opted out of the deal. Bishop had initially been registered with a 22.2 percent ownership share in Koenigsegg Group.

The Swedish government has been "fully briefed" on the new minority shareholder, Koenigsegg said. It added that it will now focus on negotiations with the Swedish National Debt Office regarding a government guarantee for a loan with the European Investment Bank that Saab has already applied for.

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