Norwegians may invest in SAAB

Bookmark and Share

Swedish Television (SVT) has reported that the Swedish sports car producer Koenigsegg has agreed with Norwegian investors to take over the long-troubled but still-well-regarded carmaker SAAB. Details reportedly are being worked out in Zurich.

Officials at the Swedish carmaker SAAB themselves weren’t confirming any pending deal Friday morning, but put a positive spin on things on their own corporate website.

“These are extremely exciting times for Saab, and as we move closer to securing new investment the media speculation is at fever pitch,” writes saab.com.

“To set the record straight, there has been no official announcement relating to any potential investors, but rest assured our negotiations are on track and we expect to have a new ownership structure finalized in the early summer,” SAAB continued, adding that “the next chapter in Saab Automobile’s history is just around the corner.”

SAAB, which has been owned by now-bankrupt General Motors for the past nine years, has been plagued by a dive in car sales and heavy losses. The company sold 133,000 cars in 2006, but just 94,000 last year.

SAAB’s 9-3 and 9-5 models are built at its main factory in Trollhättan, Sweden, while some of the 9-3s are also built in Graz in Austria.

The cars remain popular and fears of a SAAB bankruptcy have severely shaken Swedish industry at a time when the entire country is suffering a major economic downturn. Efforts to save SAAB have been going on for months.

Major Norwegian industrial firm Orkla, considered one of the more likely takeover partners if one is to be found in Norway, told newspaper Aftenposten on Friday that it’s not involved in any negotiations for SAAB.

Koenigsegg, which makes exclusive, ultra-high-priced sports vehicles, has strong Norwegian ties itself. Fredrikstad-based industrial designer Bård Eker owns 49 percent of Koenigsegg through his holding company Eker Group. He supplies Koenigsegg cars to the Norwegian market and also has been involved in their design.

The Koenigsegg CCXR was ranked among the world’s most handsome cars this spring by Forbes Magazine of the US.