* Sweden says decision on loan guarantees months away
* Sweden must wait for European Commission, EIB (Adds background, further minister quotes)
UMEA, Sweden, Oct 15 (Reuters) - A decision on whether the Swedish government will give loan guarantees to troubled auto maker Saab is still a couple of months away, the country’s enterprise minister told Reuters on Thursday.
The Swedish government said last week it had asked the European Commission to assess whether proposed loan guarantees to Saab Automobile would break rules on state support.
Sweden’s Enterprise Minister Maud Olofsson said it would take some time for the Commission to reach a decision.
“A couple of months, I think they have said,” Olofsson told Reuters on the sidelines of an informal meeting of European ministers in Umea, northern Sweden.
Olofsson said Sweden could not make its decision until after the Commission had given its verdict.
“You cannot say when this will be done and the company knows this. I cannot affect the EIB nor the Commission on this,” she said.
Swedish luxury car maker Koenigsegg, backed by U.S. and Norwegian investors, struck a deal this year to buy GM’s [GM.UL] loss-making Saab Automobile business, but its ability to finance the purchase and future Saab production has remained in question. [ID:nLI75238]
“We have said in what order we need to proceed. There is a need for private capital, the loan from the EIB, an approval from the European Commission and then a possible guarantee from us,” Olofsson said.
A loan of 400 million euros ($596 million) from the European Investment Bank, to be guaranteed by the Sweden state, has been a key element of financing plans.
In September State-run Beijing Automotive Industry Holdings announced they would take a minority stake in Koenigsegg, easing some of the funding concerns surrounding the firm’s planned purchase of Saab. (Reporting by Johan Ahlander; Editing by Rupert Winchester)
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