Sweden to take weeks to mull Antonov Saab offer

STOCKHOLM, March 31 Thu Mar 31, 2011 8:45am EDT

STOCKHOLM, March 31 (Reuters) - Sweden's Debt Office said on Thursday it would take weeks for it consider an application by Russian businessman Vladimir Antonov to take a stake in loss-making carmaker Saab.

Antonov was forced out of the original deal for Dutch carmaker Spyker SPYKR.AS to buy Saab from General Motors (GM.N) after media reports of links to organised crime. He has said he has cleared his name and GM is ready to have him back in the agreement.

But Sweden, which guaranteed a 400 million euro ($568.6 million) loan to Saab from the European Investment Bank (EIB), also has a say in ownership changes.

"It will take weeks, not days," said Daniel Barr, Debt Office head of bank support and project leader for Saab, when asked how long it would take for any approval to come through.

Spyker had on Wednesday sought to reassure investors that it had enough funds to run Saab after payment problems to suppliers interrupted production for two days. Production was up and running again on Thursday and the company said it had settled a payment problem with transport company Schenker. [ID:nLDE72T095]

But news agency TT quoted another supplier, instrument panel maker IAC Group, as saying it had stopped deliveries to Saab due to a lack of payment. An advertising company has also said it has not been paid since December.

Antonov has said he wants to restore the 30 percent stake in Spyker he had before he was forced out of the company.

Antonov owns a bank in Lithuania and Latvia and says on his website, www.vladimirantonov.com, that his Convers Group Management company has $7 billion of assets under management.

Antonov has also been a long-time business partner of Spyker Chief Executive Victor Muller and Spyker recently agreed to sell its niche sportscar division to Antonov. (Reporting by Patrick Lannin) ($1=.7035 Euro)

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