When most of us think about Russian mobsters taking out a contract, we think hitmen, not multi-million dollar industrial purchase agreements, but in Saab's case, they almost equated to the same thing, with the target Saab itself. Reports out of Sweden this week indicate the U.S. and Swedish governments stepped in to delay the sale of Saab until a group owned by Russian billionaire Alexander Antonov could be removed from Spyker's shareholders.
Alexander Antonov owns the Convers Group, which until the halt on Saab's sale owned 4.6 million shares of Spyker. Spyker founder Victor Muller purchased the shares through his own holding group, Tenaci, in order to overcome the concerns.
Ties between Antonov and the Russian mafia are little more than allegations at this point, and Spyker says they are "nonsense and speculation," according to a report by FoxNews.
But regardless of the validity of the claims, the suspicions of Mafia ties almost brought Saab to a final death. Selling Saab has been a hard task for GM, as the previous deal with Swedish supercar maker, Koenigsegg, fell apart at the last minute. The deal with Spyker itself has taken months to bring to a final agreement, though things now appear to be on a smooth path to the brand's rebirth, with Spyker today laying out its plans for the brand.
Instead of a full-line carmaker as GM had been pushing the brand, Saab will become a niche marque, selling just a handful of models with a focused target audience. To read about Spyker's plans for the brand, check out our article here.