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Vladimir Antonov, the Russian “businessman” who attempted to buy Saab earlier in the year, has been arrested in England over charges of involvement in a massive money laundering scheme in Lithuania.
Antonov, owner of Portsmouth F.C. (a British soccer team) and his partner Raimondas Baranauskas, were released on bail and ordered to surrender their passports. Both are due to be extradited to Lithuania, where authorities say the two embezzled hundreds of millions of dollars from Lithuanian bank Snoras.
Antonov previously tried to buy Saab, but his attempts to purchase it were disrupted by creditors and other parties, amid allegations of financial impropriety.
[Source: The Bellingham Herald]
Vladimir Antonov is a man on a mission. Namely, he wants a sweet piece of the pie known as Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget; but the forces that conspire against him include the Swedish government and federal investigators. So you think any support he gets against his powerful foes would be a credit to him, right?
But what a long, strange trip it’s been with Antonov and his supporters—the fans of Saabs United, the website comprised of enthusiasts and shakers within the Saab enthusiast community, raised a campaign entitled “Support Vladimir Antonov,” to tell the Swedish government that Antonov should be approved as a shareholder—tenuous mob connections or not. Vladimir Antonov, Carrie Fisher would say if she drove a 900 SPG, you’re my only hope! Turns out, though, that Antonov, doesn’t agree with all of his support: in a recent story by a Swedish newspaper, Antonov was caught saying that he wants to distance himself from his supporters, saying that he “expresses clearly that he wants to distance himself from everything that has been written about the Saab deal so far and his involvement in it.”
Naturally, Saabs United jumped on this with urgent fervor. Before Antonov’s ultimatum, SU forum moderators jumped on any Antonov criticism with the force of Soviet damnatio memoriae, urging its followers that Antonov was the best hope for Saab. Well, SU’s owner now works for Saab as a social media manager, so despite the apparent betrayal of Saab’s heir apparent to its loyal legions, some things have worked out in the end.
[Source: The Truth About Cars]
Saab is hitting the road in an effort to promote its new financial backers, but the road show will have to wait for approval from several authorities who must approve Saab’s transactions with China’s Hawtai Motor Group and Russian financier Vladimir Antonov.
CEO Victor Muller will target major media events and car shows in an effort to demonstrates Saab’s newfound vitality. But Saab was tentative on whether Antonov would be a part of the program.
“If and when Antonov gets involved, we want to include him,” Michele Tinson, a spokesman for Saab Cars North America, told Automotive News. “We want people to meet him and know who he is. Obviously we want to include our Chinese joint-venture partners as well in our tour.”
Saab’s American dealer network held a conference call to discuss dealer issues and the deal with Hawtai. According to Saab National Dealer Council chairman Kurt Schirm, Muller will be targeting major media outlets during his American stops.
[Source: Automotive News]
With Saab parent company Spyker Cars having secured a 30 million euro short-term loan, Saab vehicles will now resume production after a payment dispute with suppliers forced them to suspend their operations.
Saab CEO Victor Muller released a statement to the media, remarking ”I would like to apologize to our dedicated employees, suppliers, dealers and customers for the disruptions of the past weeks. We will do everything in our power to restore the confidence in our company as soon as practically possible.”
Saab is also exploring other avenues for funding, including partnerships with Chinese automakers and a land deal with controversial Russian businessman Vladimir Antonov, that would involve Antonov buying Saab’s Swedish production facility and then leasing it back to the automaker as a means of giving Saab some liquidity. European investment outlets previously expressed significant reservations regarding Antonov and his alleged connections to Russian criminal networks.
[Source: Automotive News]
Having reported a first quarter net loss of 72 million Euros ($107 million), Saab‘s owner Spyker Cars has now said that, due to ongoing production problems at its assembly plant as well as supplier issues, the struggling Swedish automaker will simply not be able to meet it’s 2011 production forecasts.
In addition, although it’s been revealed that the company is aggressively seeking funding to help it through the short and mid-term, it looks like that includes three Chinese Automakers, even though, in an official statement, Saab CEO Victor Muller declined to mention any names.
According to Bloomberg, said companies are rumored to be China Youngman Automobile Group, Great Wall Motor Co and Jiangsu Yueda Group, with the possibility that Saab may have an agreement worked out with at least one of them in just days.
This follows on the heels of an announcement this week that Russian businessman Vladimir Antonov will invest approximately 30 million euros, in return for a 29.9 percent stake in Saab, a plan that was proved by both the Swedish Government and General Motors.
In a further effort to help restart production, Saab also said that it was raising funds from shareholders, “pursuing various initiatives to improve the group’s liquidity” in the words of the company, but declined to elaborate any further.
So far, since under Spyker stewardship, Saab has seen production rise, it sold 9,674 cars in the first quarter this year versus 3,060 during the same period a year ago, though clearly, there’s still much work to be done.
[Source: Automotive News]
Vladimir Antonov, Russian banker, investor, billionaire, and perennial runner-up for Most Interesting Man In The World Award, has been cleared by the Swedish National Debt Office to become a shareholder in Spyker, and ultimately Saab.
Despite possible connections with organized crime that any Russian billionaire is expected to hold in the first place, Antonov has “made so many valuable contributions to Spyker since 2007 as financier and shareholder,” said Victor Muller, CEO of Spyker in a statement.
Antonov, himself the chairman of management company Conversgroup, said, “the past months of speculations around me, as an individual investor and my businesses has been exhausting. Clearly this has been a disturbing factor for many of my businesses. Finally we have managed to obtain a clean bill of health and we need to move fast forward to secure the cash flow of Saab Automobile.”
Good news for Spyker, and good news for the long-term survival of our favorite Swedish rally-turbo builders—as long as Antonov stays away from those pesky money-laundering shenanigans with the backup cast of Eastern Promises.
Ever since Saab Automobiles was cut free from General Motors and taken over by Spyker it’s been struggling to move forward.
Issues concerning financing, dealer networks and ultimately production have plagued the company. However, with manufacturing having been halted as the company looked to secure new funding, there are signs that the dark skies over Trollhattan might finally be clearing.
According to website Saabs United (sounds more like a soccer team if you ask us), the Swedish government has given Saab the go-ahead to secure more funding from a European bank. In addition, Saab’s manufacturing plant is now run by a company called Saab Automobile AB Properties, in which Russian businessman Vladimir Antonov has a controlling interest.
Needless to say there are certain conditions regarding the funding and the recommencing of vehicle production, namely the price paid for any property to be fair, that the money borrowed will go through a bank with no connection to Antonov and that he himself will have to resolve any outstanding questions regarding his past history and business dealings.
Barring any issues and provided everything remains above board, Spyker hopes that production of Saab cars will be rolling once again by the beginning of May. Here’s to hoping that happens.
[Source: Saabs United]
After a tiff with suppliers who had halted their parts deliveries, Saab has now resumed production at its main factory.
Like a deadbeat dad, Saab had stopped paying their suppliers. But the company had an excuse, and a potential solution: after their sales plummeted for the last few years, they appealed to former Spyker chairman Vladimir Antonov for an investment worth $140 million. Spyker CEO Victor Muller plans to sell his sports car company to Antonov, and the European Investment Bank is loaning $563 million to Saab to continue keeping them afloat.
The return of Antonov hasn’t been without its own drama, however: Antonov has been investigated for his ties to the Russian mafia, and his return must be met with the approval of the EIB. ”It’s in the interest of the company to have him back in,” said Muller. “What we want is a backup situation in the event we would need the money. We need to have a bigger buffer.” Hence, the dispute with the suppliers.
“We can’t continue to deliver to [Saab] if they don’t pay us in full,” said spokesman Pierre Olsson for DB Schenker, a German supplier. The company, along with others, are meeting with Saab to settle the dispute in the hopes that Saab can match their sales target of 120,000 cars this year and become profitable by the next.
[Source: The Detroit News]
Russian billionaire Vladamir Antanov isn’t done with Saab yet. Forced out of the Saab deal when General Motors sold off the Swedish automaker to Spyker, he recently re-acquired the Spkyer brand from the combined Saab Spyker Automobiles through a British coachbuilder he’s heavily invested in.
Now Antanov is stirring up trouble suggesting Saab might miss its sales target of 80,000 vehicles. In a recent interview with Swedish newspaper Dagens Industi, he said that Saab was more likely to achieve sales of 60,000 to 65,000 units for 2011.
Saab boss and Spyker founder Victor Muller has fought back, claiming that the original sales targets would in fact be met.
Antanov then went on to cast doubt on Spyker’s financing, commenting that without the current loan from the European Investment Bank Saab could go bankrupt in, “just a few days.”
But why would the EIB refuse the loan? It’s not a stretch to suggest that Antanov wants back in, and a change in ownership or control would require both the EIB and the Swedish government to sign off on the deal – and both parties might have a problem with Antanov’s alleged ties to the Russian mafia. Conveniently, Antanov happens to be well funded and could front some of the necessary funds, but even he admits coming up with enough to pay back the loan would require additional partners.
Spyker Cars, a Dutch sports car company no one would know of were it not for its purchase of Saab from GM, has just announced its own sale. Sort of.
The current company known as Saab Spyker Automobiles will retain Saab, but sell off the niche-market Spyker brand for $44 million to CPP Global Holdings Ltd, a coachbuilder based in Coventry, England.
Here’s where it gets interesting.
CPP is backed by Russian billionaire Vladimir Antonov. Sound familiar? It might if you’ve been paying close attention to the Saab-Spyker story. Back in 2009, it was Antanonv’s involvement in Spyker that initially prevented the sale of Saab from GM. As it turns out, Antanov was allegedly tied to the Russian mafia – and with General Motors being majority owned at this time by none other than the U.S. government, well, let’s just say it wouldn’t have been a good PR move for the Obama administration to sell off millions of dollars of taxpayer assets to the Russian mafia.
No connection between Antanov and the Russian mafia was ever confirmed and Spyker Cars CEO Victor Muller has publicly stated that he does not believe there is a connection.
At the time Antanov pulled out of Spyker allowing the sale to go through, which was surprising as Spyker seemed to easily come up with the necessary funds to seal the deal – hinting that Antanov was secretly still involved. Now it appears Antanov is getting his exotic Dutch sports car company back.
Spyker CEO says GM has responded to offer and that European Investment Bank will need to play a role
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.
Dutch exotic car maker Spyker is likely the favored candidate in the resumed bidding for GM’s Saab division. Saab went back on the open market just a few weeks ago when a group led by Swedish supercar maker Koenigsegg retracted its offer.
In an report published in Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet a source described GM’s top candidate in a way that almost certainly points to Spyker. Here are the details: the favored candidate has small scale experience in car production and it intends to keep production, design and development in Sweden. The source also said that the favored company is one that has already been mentioned in the press.
Last year Spyker sold just 43 vehicles, but they all came at a serious price, topping $294,200. It also has strong investment from Russian banking tycoon Vladimir Antonov. In the past, Spyker has even run a Formula 1 team and it continues to race its cars in endurance races in Europe.
General Motors had created a self imposed deadline of January 1st to sell-off the Swedish auto division and just recently company spokesman Chris Preuss has said that, “a decision about Saab is going to come very soon.”
An additional candidate in the running is China’s Beijing Auto (or BAIC), which is interested in the Saab’s tooling a technology behind the previous generation of cars in order to build those vehicles for the Chinese market. BAIC had agreed to support the Koenigsegg-led deal in exchange for those assets but when that deal fell through has offered once again to buy them.
It seems that the sale of some assets to BAIC, as well as the sale of current technology, production and design assets to Spyker is a possibility.
While there is hope for the future of the Saab brand, General Motors has had little success in parting-out its many divisions. The company is in the process of closing its Pontiac unit but couldn’t find a buyer for the Saturn brand after a deal with the Penske Automotive Group fell through. A deal to sell Hummer to a Chinese industrial equipment manufacturer has yet to be completed.