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D-Day for Saab?

2009-04-06 08:47

Creditors may seal the fate of beleaguered Swedish car maker Saab on Monday when they gather for a court hearing to determine if the group's legal restructuring process can continue.

Some 1 300 creditors have been summoned to the hearing in the Vaenersborg district court in southwestern Sweden, according to Swedish news agency TT.

The company's days could be numbered if any one of them opposes the restructuring process that Saab launched on February 20 to stave off bankruptcy and become an independent unit after it was dumped by its owner US car maker General Motors.

"If a creditor demands (that the restructuring process be halted), the court has to decide whether to do so," one of the court's three
judges, Cecilia Tisell, told TT.

The court's decision would then be based on whether Saab's survival plan looks realistic.

"We can halt the restructuring process if we find that the aim is not being achieved," she said.

Should the court find against Saab, the company would either have to declare bankruptcy or find a buyer.

GM washed its hands

The reorganisation is a Swedish legal process headed by an independent administrator appointed by the court who is working with Saab management.

The process allows parts of Saab to survive and could enable suppliers, who would lose all the money owed them by the company if it filed for bankruptcy, to get some money back by agreeing to accept partial repayment.

GM, which bought 50% of Saab in 1990 and acquired the rest 10 years later, has washed its hands of the unit after years of losses, and has called on the Swedish government to step up and rescue it.

But Stockholm has sharply criticised GM's decision to let Saab go, and has repeatedly stated that it will not take over the car maker.

The Vaenersborg court granted Saab a three-month period to restructure its business legally on February 20. Normally a creditors' meeting is held immediately to determine whether the process can go ahead, but in Saab's case the meeting was delayed because it took weeks to contact all of its creditors.

Among Saab's creditors are GM and the Swedish state.

Saab officials have in recent weeks indicated that around 10 buyers have shown interest in the brand, but have not disclosed their names.

Saab employs about 4 100 people in Sweden. Including suppliers, some 15 000 jobs in the Scandinavian country are believed to be at risk if
the unit disappears.

A crisis for the car supplier industry would also have negative effects on Sweden's other carmaker, Volvo, owned by Ford.


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