Chinese investor claims misunderstanding as he insists sale deal is still on after all
13 October 2011

A deal to secure Saab's immediate future is still on, following comments from Saab's owners and Pang Qinghua, chairman of Chinese company Pang Da.

After batting off rumours that its deal for much-needed investment had fallen through, Saab issued another statement confirming that it was already receiving funds via a bridging loan from another Chinese company, Youngman.

Both Youngman and Pang Da are negotiating to invest in Saab, but Youngman's loan is intended to sort out the Swedish firm's more immediate cashflow problems.

A statement from Saab's owner Swedish Automobile NV (Swan) said: “Management of Swan and Saab Automobile confirm that the reorganisation is progressing and that a first payment by Youngman under the bridge loan funding commitment as announced on September 12 was received by Saab Automobile.

“Further payments under the amended and final bridge loan agreements signed between Youngman and Saab Automobile are expected to be made during this week and by October 22.

“It is the intention to repay the bridge loan with the proceeds of the EUR 245 million equity investments by Youngman and Pang Da, which are still subject to approval by relevant authorities and parties which Swan expects to receive during the next weeks."

Pang Qinghua has reiterated his company's commitment to invest in Saab. His comments came just hours after he said his firm would no longer invest in the Swedish company, adding a bizarre twist to the ongoing sale process.

Pang Da had originally planned to jointly invest £210 million into Saab with Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile. However, Qinghua announced in China yesterday that the offer was invalidated by Saab entering voluntary reorganisation.

However, hours later he spoke again to Reuters news agency, which had reported his original comments, and said he was confident the deal would go through.

"What I meant was that during restructuring, the court is authorised to adapt any restructuring plans, including vetoing previous agreements," Pang said. "It's up to the one handling the reorganisation to decide whether previous agreements are valid or not. I am sticking to the commitment."

Qinghua added that Pang Da, a car retailer in China, was only interested in selling Saabs in China and outlying regions.

China's National Development and Reform Commission must approve any deal, which insiders continue to say is highly unlikely because of the limited technology that Saab has to sell.

Despite reports that the Commission is set to deliver a verdict on whether the deal can proceed tomorrow, Qinghua claimed he did not even know if his offer had been sent for approval yet.

"Youngman's Pang Qingnian is the one that is supposed to send the application to the NDRC," he told Reuters. "As far as I know, he is soliciting opinions among industry experts regarding the deal. They are not done with it yet."

In a separate deal Pang Da had previously paid Saab around £30m for 2000 cars. Qinghua confirmed his firm had yet to receive any of them.

The administrator in charge of Saab's restructuring under court protection continues to review the plan submitted by the company, outlining how it will proceed if it is allowed to trade again.

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