Saab-owner Spyker posts loss, drops sales forecast

AP News
Posted: Apr 29, 2011 6:44 AM
Saab-owner Spyker posts loss, drops sales forecast

Spyker Cars NV, the owner of Saab Automobile, on Friday posted a net loss of euro76.3 million ($112.9 million) in the first quarter as it struggles to find cash to restart production at its car factory in Sweden.

Spyker's sales rose to euro257 million, from euro44 million in the same period last year, when the small Dutch company bought Saab from General Motors. But the cost of sales also jumped to euro243 million from euro65 million.

Spyker has run out of cash to pay Saab's suppliers and production has been at a standstill since April 6.

"It is unclear at this time what the consequences of the recent production stoppages and funding issues will be for our full year 2011 forecast but it is realistic to assume that realizing our 80,000 cars sales forecast is no longer feasible," Spyker CEO Victor Muller said.

Spyker shares dropped 4.6 percent to euro4.15 on the Amsterdam exchange after the report.

The tiny Dutch company surprised markets in January 2010 by buying Saab out of liquidation from GM, a move that transformed the little-known Spyker into a proxy for an independent Saab.

Spyker has since sold its luxury sportscar business to Russian tycoon Vladimir Antonov for euro15 million. Spyker on Friday proposed changing its name to Swedish Automobile NV at the next shareholders meeting set for May 19.

Antonov, a former part-owner of Spyker, was forced out of the company as part of its deal to buy Saab from GM last year amid reports of alleged money laundering. He has denied those allegations and has never been charged.

The Swedish Nation Debt Office on Thursday approved his application to return to Spyker by investing up to euro30 million for a 29.9 percent stake.

He also needs approval from the GM; the European Investment Bank, which gave Saab a euro400 million loan; and the Swedish government, which guaranteed that loan.

Separately, Spyker is awaiting the EIB's approval for a plan to raise cash by selling real estate, including the Saab factory in Trollhattan in western Sweden, to Antonov. That plan envisions reducing the loan EIB loan to euro280 million.

Muller said he's also in talks with Chinese automakers to secure new financing.

"We are hopeful that these discussions will result in a solution very shortly so we can resume production," he said.

Saab sold 9,400 cars in the first quarter, up from only 4,900 a year earlier, and said March was its strongest sales month since breaking off from GM. New models being launched later this year, including the 9-4X crossover SUV, are expected to boost sales in the second half of 2011, said Saab's outgoing CEO, Jan Ake Jonsson.

However, the company said it expects to post a loss in 2011, which it considers a "build-up" year.