Saab closing in on deal with Russian, Chinese investors

Around the same time that Ake Jonsson stepped down as chief executive of Saab, the Swedish automaker announced its expansion into the Russian and Chinese markets – a vital move if Saab is to increase its global market share. But it's not just the cars that Saab and its parent company Spyker are interested in selling in these two giant markets. It's also looking to offload shares in an effort to raise much-needed capital.

The first address is Vladimir Antonov, a man who shares a considerable history with Spyker. The Russian banker and multimillionaire oligarch was once the company's largest single shareholder and acted as its chairman, and is also the owner of CPP Manufacturing, to which Spyker sold its own sportscar business. After investigations alleged ties to organized crime, however, General Motors stipulated that Antonov had to leave the company before it would transfer ownership of Saab. Those allegations have apparently now been either disproven or swept under the rug as Antonov has now been cleared by both GM and the Swedish National Debt Office to invest as much as 30 million euros in Saab for a 30-percent stake in the company.

Following that revelation, Saab is also said to be closing in on a deal with a major Chinese carmaker, following a similar path that led crosstown rival Volvo to align itself with Geely following its sale by Ford. Among the manufacturers with which Spyker is reportedly undergoing discussions are the Great Wall Motor Co., China Youngman Automobile Group and Jiangsu Yueda Group, all relatively small players even in China's domestic market. Even so, they could provide the capital Saab needs to continue operating, and if they can, Saab's certainly in no position to pick and choose.

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