While SAAB’s production has ground to a halt as supplies dry up because of non-payment of suppliers dues and SAAB’s owners Spyker Cars sees its share price drop, comes news of further efforts by the Russian financier Vladimir Antonov to gain entry as an owner of SAAB. He has been trying to get in for some time and “money on the table” could be irresistible if Spyker and SAAB are really going through a cash crunch.
Spyker’s report warned – a little unexpectedly – of a cash crunch last Friday. Could it be that this is an elaborate ruse between Spyker and Antonov? I am probably being a little cynical but with Russian finance I have learnt that nothing is ever as it seems and conspiracy theories are not necessarily as far fetched as they might seem. The Swedish government does not want Antonov to get in as a SAAB owner but Victor Muller and Spyker Cars do.
I suspect that the liquidity crisis at SAAB has been – at least partly – engineered by Spyker and Antonov.
The Russian financier Vladimir Antonov has filed a formal application to Sweden’s National Debt Office to go in as the owner of Saab Automobile. This was confirmed by the Debt Office and Antonov himself for TTELA.
“We can confirm that we received an application from Vladimir Antonov, yesterday (Tuesday) evening, but, because of commercial confidentiality, can not say what it contains, ”said Daniel Barr, project manager for Saab at the Debt Office, to TTELA.
Even Vladimir Antonov confirmed briefly that he had submitted an application. Previously, he has declared that he wants to go in with capital of between 440-620 million SEK , so that Saab and its parent company Spyker Cars NV can get a better buffer capital. Such money could be used in times of a liquidity crisis.
The Debt Office will process the application and submit a statement to the Government. The government will then makes a decision on the matter. The Debt Office does not comment on applications received.
From the Spyker financial statements presented on Friday, it appears that cash flow reduced faster than expected in late 2010 partly because of lower sales volumes and large investments. At the end of 2010 the company had negative equity and a working capital of 220 million euros, equivalent to almost 2 billion Swedish krona.
Vladimir Antonov and his banking group Convers Group.have submitted the application to the Debt Office. Oleg Sukhorukov, vice president of Convers Group, would not give any additional comments.
Vladimir Aleksandrovich Antonov (born 1975) is a Russian banker, entrepreneur and investor. In 2007 Antonov’s personal wealth was estimated at $300,000,000 which ranks him as number 182 among Russian millionaires.
In February 2011, it was announced that Spyker Cars NV, the Dutch owner of Saab Automobile, agreed to sell its sports-car unit to Vladimir Antonov. Antonov, a former Spyker chairman and shareholder, is expected to pay 15 million euros ($21 million) for the company.
In 2007, Bankas Snoras acquired 29.9% of Dutch luxury automobile manufacturer, Spyker Cars, making Vladimir Antonov the single largest shareholder in the company.
In January 2010, it was reported that General Motors was preparing to sell Saab to Spyker for a nominal fee, and that the Swedish government had agreed to guarantee loans for the purchase from the European Investment Bank (EIB). If the takeover had been successful, the Saab brand and its operations would have been largely unaffected.
Antonov’s interests (29.9% of the shares) in Spyker Cars were said to have delayed the purchase of Saab Automobile in late 2009. An investigation by the Swedish monetary agency Riksgälden and the Swedish security police Säpo had allegedly found connections between the Antonov family and organized crime, as well as involvement in money laundering. Säpo reported their findings to the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, and shortly afterwards GM stopped further talks about the deal until the Antonov family had sold their shares in Spyker Cars.
In January 2011, it was reported that GM was preparing to reverse its decision not to allow Antonov to hold a financial interest in Spyker and Saab and allow him to invest. Antonov said that he has no “connection to any criminal people” and that he had hired an investigative firm to produce evidence that he has no criminal background.
Victor Muller Spyker cars
In December 2010, it was reported by Swedish financial newspaper, Dagens Industri, that two independent reports, one of which was commissioned by the Swedish government had shown that there was no evidence that Vladimir Antonov is guilty of any of the accusations made against him. Victor Muller, CEO of Spyker Cars, also stated that he believed Vladimir Antonov to be innocent of the accusations. Following this, Antonov acquired the sportcars division of Spyker Cars NV.
Maybe this all just to get Antonov to be a “white knight riding to SAAB’s rescue” but something does not smell right.