Ecclestone, Genii gather cash for Saab bid -paper

STOCKHOLM, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone and investment company Genii Capital will soon have initial financing to show GM [GM.UL] they can fund a purchase of carmaker Saab, daily Dagens Industri wrote on Monday.

The paper said Ecclestone and Genii would have 500 million to 1 billion crowns ($90-$180 million) in an account in a couple of days.

However, it was not clear whether the group had sent in a formal bid for the loss-making Swedish car firm.

“I have had contacts with GM, who have given us a deadline of the beginning of this week, which I interpret as Monday through Wednesday,” spokesman Lars Carlstrom said.

GM, the No. 1 automaker in the United States, has been trying to sell the ailing maker of the 9-3 and 9-5 ranges for over a year. It is preparing to shut the 60-year old company if it doesn’t receive a suitable bid.

In addition to the cash sum, a buyer must be able to show they don’t need a loan from the European Investment Bank, Carlstrom said.

“That is an absolute condition from GM’s side and one of the keys to being able to buy Saab,” Carlstrom said. “No one knows if the EIB would agree such a loan.

In total a buyer needs to have around 10 billion crowns to invest in Saab over the longer term, with GM demanding that prospective owners have an initial 1-2 billion crowns in cash to show, DI said, quoting sources.

The paper quoted sources saying that so far, a bid for Saab from Spyker Cars SPYKR.AS was the strongest contender.

“I know Victor Muller well, and I know Spyker’s bid is a strong one which GM will find it hard to say no to,” Carlstrom said.

“It should be enough if we don’t put in a stronger bid.”