Sweden repays Saab loan granted by the European Investment Bank

Article by Christian A., on January 29, 2012

Sweden is now the biggest creditor of Saab after the country’s Debt Office paid back a loan granted by the European Investment Bank (EIB) to the bankrupt company. The Debt Office was the guarantor for Saab's original 400 million euro ($526 million) loan from the bank, which is the long-term investment arm of the EU. Saab spent 217 million euros of the loan.

Last Friday, the Debt Office said the debt is slightly lower than 2.2 billion crowns ($325 million). It also said that shares in Saab Automobile Parts and Saab Automobile Tools held as collateral by the Debt Office are worth more than the loan.

With the loan, the EIB and the Swedish government can veto over ownership changes. Debt Office spokeswoman Unni Jerndal said that the payment was triggered by Saab's bankruptcy.

She added that Sweden still prefers to sell the entire company instead of breaking it up in the bankruptcy process. Reuters spoke to sources who said that a bid is being prepared by Chinese group Zhejiang Youngman Lotus which has been participating in negotiations for several months now.

On Jan. 21, Saab's receivers said that they had been in talks with several bidders and would want for the Swedish company to be sold as a whole. No bids have been submitted this week.

Saab had ended production in early 2011 as it had run out of money to pay its employees and suppliers. Dutch firm Swedish Automobile, which owns Saab, couldn’t convince previous owner General Motors Co. to agree to a rescue deal involving a Chinese company. Saab then announced its bankruptcy last December.

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