Saab's hopes to develop a crucial new platform now hang in the balance

Saab’s life-saving deal with Chinese manufacturer Hawtai has collapsed, leaving the Swedish brand’s plans to develop a crucial new platform hanging by a thread.

Late last week, Saab’s owner Spyker secured 120 million euros 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 programme 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 firm - by around 120 million euros, to 280 million euros. Saab is said to need all 400 million to get Phoenix to market.

However, yesterday evening Spyker issued a statement saying that the deal with Hawtai - in which the Chinese firm would own a stake of around 29.9 per cent in Spyker - had been “terminated”. “Discussions are ongoing,” the firm 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”. 

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