Saab's life-saving deal with Chinese manufacturer Hawtai has collapsed, leaving the Swedish auto maker's plans to develop a crucial new platform hanging by a thread.
Late last week, Saab's owner Spyker secured 120 million euros ($170m) of investment from Hawtai. The cash was required to complete work on the Phoenix platform, which will support a range of new Saabs, starting with the next 9-3.
Saab faced a shortfall in this program because, in a bid to free up much-needed liquidity, pay off suppliers and get its silent production line in Trolhattan moving again, it had agreed to sell off its factory assets and lease them back. That move reduced the amount that the European Investment Bank is willing to loan the company – by around 120 million euros, to 280 million euros. Saab is said to need all 400 million ($567m) to get Phoenix to market.
However, on Wednesday evening Spyker issued a statement saying that the deal with Hawtai – in which the Chinese firm would own a stake of around 29.9 percent in Spyker – had been “terminated.” “Discussions are ongoing,” Spyker added.
Spyker says the deal became unworkable “when it became clear that Hawtai was not able to obtain all the necessary consents [from stakeholders]”. It says the two firms will continue discussions but says this “will not be on a non-exclusive basis.” That's likely to mean that Spyker officials are keen to open fresh talks with alternative Chinese investors.
Saab also continues to discuss refinancing with the EIB, but the statement acknowledges that production will not restart until an agreement with the bank is reached, “or other equivalent funding is confirmed.”