General Motors' decision to close its loss-making Swedish unit Saab is sad news, the government said on Dec. 18, lashing out at the U.S. auto giant for not doing enough for the iconic marque. "GM owns Saab and GM could have done much more for Saab over the years," Enterprise Minister Maud Olofsson told a press conference in Saab's hometown of Trollhaettan.
"It is very dismal, very sad news for all of the employees and it comes at the worst possible time," the minister was quoted as saying by Swedish news agency TT.
Saab chief Jan Aake Jonsson told the press conference he was "very disappointed. But now the decision has been made and we are waiting to see how GM plans to carry out the winding-down."
GM said on Dec. 18 it had failed to reach an agreement with Dutch sports car maker Spyker on a sale of the division. "We regret that we were not able to complete this transaction with Spyker Cars. We will work closely with the Saab organization to wind down the business in an orderly and responsible manner," GM said.
Saab union leader Cecilia Fahlberg told TT she was "tremendously disappointed," and that a "broader dialogue" between union representatives, the industry and the government was necessary.
Olofsson has called a meeting of the three sides to discuss the situation in Trollhaettan, southwestern Sweden, on Dec. 21. But she reiterated the government's position that the state cannot takeover Saab, saying it has no place owning car companies."We don't have that knowledge or the money," she said.
"I don't think GM really knows how the wind-down is going to take place but GM has to take its responsibility," Olofsson said, adding: "The most important thing right now is to take care of the employees and the future, how to make the most of their know-how."
Saab employs about 3,400 people in Sweden. According to media reports, a closure of Saab could lead to more than 8,000 job losses, including subcontractors and others dependent on the carmaker.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009