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Report: Dutch Billionaires Steping-In and Russian Ones Exiting May Save Saab

Spyker CEO says GM has responded to offer and that European Investment Bank will need to play a role

 |  Dec 22 2009, 4:00 PM

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There are almost too many stories and rumors about Swedish automaker Saab to keep up with, as the latest reports suggest not one but two Dutch billionaires are involved in a new deal that would see Spyker purchase the loss-making division from General Motors.

Dutch business daily Het Financieele Dagblad suggests Dutch media tycoon John de Mol, who listed in the 2005 Forbes magazine wealthiest 500 people in the world issue, is the secret backer. De Mol, who owns production company Endemol with Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, as well as parts of telecommunications company Versatel and a part of Manchester United, also used to own one third of Spyker but sold his shares off several years ago.

The other rumored investor is another Dutch billionaire, Marcel Boekhoorn, who currently owns a 5.7 percent stake in Spyker.

Regardless of who is investing, the more important issue seems to be who is not, as Spyker’s 11th hour proposal is reported to have only been acknowledge by GM as it didn’t include Spyker’s Russian investors. Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet, reported that Russian investors Vladimir and Alexander Antonov, who own a 29.3 percent stake in Spyker, are no longer a part of the Spyker purchase.

General Motors feared Russian involvement as it believed the Russians might utilize Saab technology for other ventures in Russia – a market which GM sees as emerging and which it wants for itself.

With Dutch backers reportedly piling on and Russian ones leaving, Saab may be saved yet. However, according to a recent Bloomberg report, Spyker will still need to secure a significant loan from the European Investment Bank; likely in the absence of the Russian funds. Spyker CEO Victor Muller said as much, commenting that the EIB would need to get involved but the General Motors has looked at Spyker’s new proposal and that the two parties are talking and looking to find a solution that would save Saab.

[Source: Swedishwire and Bloomberg]