Sweden Says Saab Ready for Takeover

Sweden offers loan guarantees

A sell-off of Saab Automobile drew closer on June 11 when Sweden offered it loan guarantees, a key step in moves to separate the car maker from its stricken parent company General Motors.

The government said it had authorized the Swedish Debt Office, which acts as a public bank to the state, to discuss guaranteeing a 500-million-euro loan made to Saab by the European Investment Bank (EIB).

"We have always said that the debt office could start negotiations on guaranteeing the loan when Saab has a new owner," state secretary for business Joran Hagglund said. "With today's decision we are well prepared for that," he added, but the statement gave no details of who may take over Saab. Saab has said two or three bidders are in the running, but has declined to name them.

Leading British daily The Financial Times has named the contenders as Swedish luxury car maker Koenigsegg and the U.S. investment firms Renco and Merbanco.

Saab was put up for sale by General Motors, which filed for bankruptcy after being brought to its knees by falling demand for its cars amid the world economic downturn.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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