Saab History Clarifies Saab Automobile’s “Reorganization”

Posted on 19. Feb, 2009 by in 2000-2009

I think it’s time to classify Saab Automobile’s recent position to “reorganize” which was recently decided upon at the board meeting this morning.

Reuters have recently provided some good clarification on what reorganization and I think it is important to provide their details here for our reference.

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – The Saab board met on Thursday, a union representative said, amid reports the Swedish carmaker was set to file for protection from creditors.

Earlier on Thursday, Swedish public service radio reported, without disclosing its sources, that Saab’s board had called an extraordinary meeting to decide on a reorganization of the carmaker.

A reorganization filing, which is an alternative to an outright bankruptcy filing, would be made with a Swedish court after which the viability of continuing operations is assessed.

“There has been a company board meeting, it has not really finished yet, and it started around 1100 (CET),” said Micael Lindell, a union representative at Saab.

Lindell said he had no information on what was discussed at the meeting, but the board’s union representatives and Saab’s management had a meeting scheduled at 1500 CET (9 a.m. EST).

A Saab spokeswoman declined to comment.

GM said earlier this week that Saab could file for reorganization as early as this month and that it still hoped to reach an agreement with Sweden on aid for the brand.

However, the Swedish government on Wednesday ruled out owning carmakers or their factories and accused GM of shirking its responsibility as an owner and that talks over state aid for Saab lacked a realistic basis.

Martin Skold, an assistant professor at the Stockholm School of Economics, who analyses the car industry, said the reorganization would need to define the legal relationship between Saab and its parent GM.

Cutting legal ties could save GM hundreds of millions of dollars in costs if Saab were to go bankrupt.

In a business reorganization, the company seeks protection from creditors while it comes up with a plan to become profitable. It is an alternative to bankruptcy, said Sven Save at Ackordscentralen, a Swedish consultancy firm which handles insolvency issues.

A reconstruction plan could mean measures such as job cuts, a sale of assets or a debt writedown.

Creditors who risk not getting any money at all if the company goes bankrupt, have to be convinced at a first court hearing that lowering their claims is in their best interest.

If no creditors object to the plan at the start of the procedures, they cannot demand a liquidation of the company in a later stage of the reorganization which can last up to a year.

Joran Hagglund, state secretary at the Swedish Industry Ministry, said he had no information on if Saab was set to apply for reorganization and that the government was monitoring developments.

“We continue to analyze the situation and what can happen if there is a reorganization,” Hagglund told Reuters.

GM said in its restructuring plan submitted to the U.S. Treasury on Tuesday that it would cap its financial support for Saab and aimed for the Swedish unit to become an independent business as of January 1, 2010.

(Reporting by Victoria Klesty; Anna Ringstrom and Simon Johnson; additional reporting by Victoria Klesty; writing by Niklas Pollard; editing by Simon Jessop)

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