* Not sure parties can meet EIB conditions
* Saab, EIB to hold further talks on Tuesday
* EIB says deal needs formal approval from GM
* Russian financer remains confident
(Adds Swedish debt office chief)
By Aaron Gray-Block and Patrick Lannin
AMSTERDAM/STOCKHOLM, April 26 (Reuters) - Dutch carmaker Spyker Cars SPYKR.AS raised doubts over whether it could quickly agree a cash injection for its Swedish brand Saab, ahead of talks on Tuesday with the European Investment Bank (EIB).
Production at Saab has been halted for more than two weeks after it failed to pay suppliers’ bills, sparking questions over the carmaker’s future if the shutdown continues for much longer. [ID:nLDE73B0]
The EIB has agreed a deal in principle with the company to ease its cash crunch, but Spyker has objected to the bank’s conditions. The EIB has provided 217 million euros in loans to Saab, which the Swedish government has guaranteed.
“It is not yet certain whether the above parties will be able to fulfil all of the conditions of the EIB and finalise the sale of Saab Property within a short timeframe,” Spyker Cars said in a statement.
Saab wants to sell its plant and other real estate to Russian financier Vladimir Antonov and lease it back, providing it cash to pay overdue bills.
Sweden’s Debt Office, which guaranteed the EIB loan in Sweden’s name, has already agreed to the sale and leaseback plan. Antonov also eventually wants to become a shareholder in Saab, but that is something the Debt Office has yet to make up its mind about.
In Stockholm on Wednesday ahead of a meeting with the Debt Office, Antonov told Swedish media he was not giving up.
“I am sure that we will make it,” he told newspaper Expressen. He added that the message coming from the EIB was difficult to understand, but said that if he was approved as an owner of Saab then he could arrange a sound future for the firm.
“We see no future problems for the company,” he added.
Coming out of the meeting with Antonov, Debt Office chief Bo Lundgren told reporters the office could decide within days whether to approve him as a stakeholder.
“We have no ambition to delay this process. As soon as we can, we will try and solve this,” he said. “We have now received information, we have written information, we want some supplements,” Lundgren said.
However, the cash crunch has raised questions about the company’s long-term survival in an intensely competitive market.
“Saab is now a gust of wind away from falling,” newspaper Svenska Dagbladet said in an editorial.
Spyker said the EIB’s conditions included the obligation of Saab to replace the purchaser of Saab property within a limited period of time and that the approval would relate to a partial sale of Saab property only.
Antonov’s representative in Sweden has said the EIB wants Saab to repay the 217 million euros it has lent so far to Saab as a condition to agreeing to the sale and leaseback.
It added that the EIB is also requesting extra details and formal approvals from the Swedish Debt Office, the Swedish government, U.S. car maker GM (GM.N) and Saab Automobile.
EIB vice-chairman Eva Srejber told a Swedish newspaper the bank was holding up the deal until Saab’s former owner and current shareholder GM approves the sale and lease-back plan and that this was the only condition holding up the deal.
“It is not enough just to make statements. Saab must have a formally correct approval from GM in order for us to approve the deal,” Srejber was quoted saying in newspaper Dagens Industri.
Antonov’s Swedish representative has said GM has already approved the sale and leaseback. (Additional reporting by Simon Johnson and Anna Ringstrom in Stockholm; Editing by Erica Billingham and Will Waterman)