Saab's Creditors Agree To $1B Debt Settlement

STOCKHOLM (AP) -- GM unit Saab's creditors on Wednesday approved the write-down of 8.1 billion kronor ($1 billion) of the Swedish car maker's debt as part of the company's reconstruction.

Saab Automobile AB spokeswoman Gunilla Gustavs said 81.5 percent of creditors approved the settlement at a hearing in the Vanersborg district court in southwest Sweden. A majority was required.

The debt written off represents 75 percent of Saab's total non-prioritized debt. The General Motors Corp. unit said it would pay back the remaining debt of 2.7 billion kronor ($345 million) -- to be distributed among the creditors -- out of its own pockets.
The lawyer in charge of Saab's reconstruction had earlier estimated that if Saab had been allowed to collapse creditors would only have received about 15 percent of the funds owed them.

The Swedish state was the only creditor who opposed Wednesday's settlement. Mats Hagelin, who represents the state through the Swedish tax agency, told local news agency TT the decision was based on lack of information about Saab's future owner -- a consortium led by Swedish luxury car maker Koenigsegg Automotive AB.

"They say they have money. But we still haven't had enough information to make our own objective evaluation of the situation," Hagelin said.

Saab went into bankruptcy protection on Feb. 20 in an effort by GM to spin off or sell the unit. The Koenigsegg consortium on Tuesday revealed it has signed a memorandum of understanding to take over the company.

The Swedish luxury car maker is backed by Norwegian and American investors but hasn't fully revealed the ownership structure of the new group yet.

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