(Corrects figure in first bullet point and eighth paragraph to
50 million euros from 15 million)
* Vladimir Antonov can invest up to 50 mln euros
* Spoken with General Motors, talking with Swedish state
* Antonov was forced out of original Spyker deal to buy Saab
* Spyker shares up 4.3 pct, outperform index
By Nerijus Adomaitis and Aaron Gray-Block
VILNIUS/AMSTERDAM, March 24 Russian banker and
businessman Vladimir Antonov is aiming to return as a near 30
percent shareholder in loss-making Dutch group Spyker
SPYKR.AS, which owns ailing Swedish carmaker Saab.
Antonov was originally part of Spyker's acquisition of Saab
from General Motors (GM.N) but quit the deal after facing
allegations of money laundering, which he denied.
He has said independent investigations have cleared his
"We are discussing currently this opportunity with the
Swedish government ... We already had a 29.9 percent stake, so
we would like to restore this," Antonov told a news conference
on Thursday in the capital of Lithuania, where he was outlining
plans for his Snoras Bank group.
Spyker has struggled to make money and analysts say it needs
a long-term strategic investor to restore Saab's fortunes.
Antonov said the issue of his return to Saab had already
been settled with General Motors, which has redeemable
preference shares in Saab, and he was now in discussions with
the Swedish state, which has guaranteed a 400 million euro EIB
loan to Saab.
"I expect the decision to be taken within a few months," he
added. He said he could take the stake in Spyker by buying
shares from a new issue and some existing shares.
"I would plan to invest up to 50 million euros, but it still
remains to be seen how much cash they (Saab) would need."
MORE THAN WELCOME
Asked about the potential deal, Spyker Cars Chief Executive
Victor Muller, who has had close and complex financial dealings
with Antonov in the past, said the Russian would be "very
welcome" as a shareholder.
"I surely hope it's going to happen. He would be more than
welcome and I know he is doing everything possible to achieve
this and I fully support his efforts," Muller told Reuters.
Muller declined to detail the possible structure of a deal
and would not comment on Antonov's talks with GM or the Swedish
GM also declined to comment.
Shares in Spyker, a volatile stock, bounced up and down on
the news and were up 4.3 percent at 4.87 euros at 1507 GMT to
outperform the Amsterdam small cap index .ASCX which was up
Spyker said last month it was selling off its luxury sports
car business to Antonov to focus on Saab.
The listed parent will be renamed in May, Muller has said,
and would probably include Saab in its new name, with a listing
in Stockholm still on the cards.
Spyker has forecast Saab sales of 80,000 vehicles this year
and 120,000 in 2012 after selling 31,696 cars in 2010.
Antonov, who helped fund Spyker's acquisition of Saab last
year, said in a newspaper interview that he saw Saab selling
60,000 to 65,000 vehicles this year, well below target.
Speaking in Vilnius, he said Saab had enough cash if it
managed to sell the number of cars it was targeting.
"But ... it would be good to have a liquidity pillow, and, I
think, those 15 million euros would be enough," he added.
(Additional reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Writing by
Patrick Lannin; Editing by David Cowell)