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Sweden Repays Saab's EIB Loan, Becomes Its Largest Creditor


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Sweden has stepped in to repay a loan between the European Investment Bank (EIB) and Saab, making it the single largest creditor of the now-defunct automaker.

The loan, in the amount of 400 million euros (then, $600 million), was issued in October of 2009, shortly after the deal to sell Saab to Koenigsegg collapsed. At the time, the loan was seen as necessary to fund Saab’s ongoing operations, as well as to keep the automaker based in Sweden.

According to Automotive News Europe (subscription required), the remaining debt totals 2.2 billion Swedish crowns, or roughly $325 million. Sweden’s Debt Office maintains that its shares in Saab Automobile and Saab Automobile Tools are worth more than the outstanding debt, but that assumes the automaker will be sold, not liquidated for its assets.

Payment of the loan was triggered by Saab’s bankruptcy filing, since the Swedish Debt Office had guaranteed the note in October of 2009. While there are still rumors of a pending Saab sale to former Chinese suitor Youngman and others, no bids for the sale of the bankrupt automaker have yet been received.

There have been bids to buy assets held by Saab, so the clock is ticking for any investors looking to buy Saab as a whole. Since the current Saab product line is so deeply tied to General Motors components and technology, it’s likely that GM (which still owns preferred stock) will veto any sale that impacts its market position.

The tragic irony in all of this is that the relationship between Saab and the Swedish government now parallels the relationship between GM and the U.S. government, which still owns approximately 26.5 percent of General Motors. Break even for the U.S. Treasury is at roughly $53 per share, while GM stock is currently trading at $24.23 per share.
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