Saab Staff Upbeat on Loan News

The Swedish government decided on Friday that Saab Automobile could sell its real-estate company to battle its liquidity issues. That decision gave hope to Saab employees who have been worried about their jobs.

“It was a decision in the right direction” Håkan Skött, chairman of trade union IF Metall at Saab, told news agency TT Saturday.

He said he hoped production would start again “in the near future.”

“People don’t want anything more than to build cars again, “ he said.

He added that while the process dragged on without a decision the situation felt “very frustrating.”

Production at the factory in Trollhättan is still standing still. A majority of Saab employees on the production side have been home since last Thursday, Skött said.

“It’s not strange that there’s a stop, it happens quite often due to different reasons,” he said.

“But this stoppage has been very long.”

Saab received approval Friday from the Swedish government to finance its current operations.

The solution means that Saab is allowed to sell its buildings to Russian business man Vladimir Antonov.

In return, Saab will be able to use the entire loan it received from the European Investment Bank in 2010.

“In practical terms, this means that tax payers’ exposure will decrease since the loan is decreasing,” Enterprise and Energy Minister Maud Olofsson said Friday at a press conference.

She explained that the debt office is in the middle of carrying out an investigation of the new owner and that Friday’s decision doesn’t mean it has completed its assessment.

The probe is being conducted at the request of Saab, but is not yet finished.

The Debt Office must first eliminate a number of questions surrounding the new owner, said Olofsson.

But the government has placed three tough conditions in order for the deal to be approved.

The agreement must be signed between Saab and the buyer of its associated property company, Saab Automobile Properties AB, guaranteeing Saab a reasonable payment for company.

Saab must also retain access to the facilities to carry out its production. Finally, payment for the real estate must be carried out through a bank that isn’t controlled by the buyer.

Olofsson explained that the condition that the transaction be carried out through a European bank was meant to ensure the government that the deal involved a “serious buyer”.

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