Swedish debt agency set to grab Saab's assets

STOCKHOLM Wed Aug 17, 2011 12:16pm EDT

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STOCKHOLM Aug 17 (Reuters) - Sweden's debt enforcement agency is preparing to seize assets of troubled car maker Saab in an attempt to recover at least 4 million Swedish crowns ($625,000)owed to parts suppliers.

"We have contacted Saab's banks," Hans Ryberg, an official at the Swedish Enforcement Authority said on Wednesday.

The agency can now seize assets, including any cash in Saab's bank accounts.

Car production at the cash-strapped company, rescued in early 2010 by Netherlands-based Swedish Automobile, ground to a standstill in April because suppliers who had not been paid refused to deliver components.

Since then, Saab has been scrambling to find new sources of financing. The company has agreed around 61 million euros ($86 million) in short-term funding, which it used to pay wages and some debts to suppliers.

Saab's next big test comes at the end of the month when it is due to pay wages to its roughly 3,600 employees, a bill that could run to millions of dollars.

A number of suppliers have turned to the authorities to get their money with some 370,000 Swedish crowns ($58,000) immediately outstanding after final demands from Sweden's debt collection agency.

The amount due for immediate payment will rise to 4 million crowns on Thursday, Ryberg said, and is expected to rise further.

A Saab spokeswoman declined to comment on the actions of the debt collectors office but said executives were working hard to raise additional money for the company.

Suppliers and workers have been losing patience with Saab over unpaid debts. Saab delayed paying workers' salaries two months in a row, leading unions to threaten to demand the company be declared bankrupt.

Saab later coughed up.

In July, supplier SwePart Verktyg AB applied to the courts for Saab Automobile Tools AB, a daughter company to Saab Automobile, to be put into bankruptcy, only to withdraw its request when it was paid. .

According to figures in Saab's annual report, the company had to pay out around 157 million crowns ($24 million) in staff costs each month last year. ($1=6.395 Swedish Kronas) (Reporting by Johan Ahlander; Editing by Erica Billingham)

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