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Saab CEO says unit eyed by other carmakers

  Auto industry peers are among the investors who have shown interest in Nordic carmaker Saab, the top executive of General Motors’ loss-making unit said in an interview with a Swedish newspaper on Sunday.

“They have been of different kinds, from pure investors to interested parties in the auto industry, but also other carmakers,” Saab Chief Executive Jan-Ake Jonsson was quoted as saying by business daily Dagens Industri.

Saab was granted protection from creditors by a Swedish court late last week and the company said then that it had been approached by potential investors, but did not elaborate. The carmaker’s struggling US parent has said it wants to cut the unit loose.

The Swedish carmaker has said it must carry out a rapid restructuring to address losses seen at SEK 3 billion ($346.8 million) this year and find new funding from either private or public sources in order to launch new and more competitive models.

But the Swedish government said last week the information received so far about Saab’s situation was not enough for it to provide the carmaker with loan guarantees, the only form of financial assistance that government has said it might consider. It also said the business plan presented by Saab was too optimistic.

Jonsson said Saab’s business plans had been revised down substantially in recent weeks and foresaw very low production levels in the near term. “We revised down our estimated production volume by 10-15%, a little bit depending on what year you are talking about,” Jonsson said in the interview which was published on Dagens Industri’s website.

The newspaper reported, without disclosing its sources, that Saab’s business plan called for the company to sell 65,000 to 70,000 cars this year, down from 94,000 in 2008, but that sales volumes were seen rising to 150,000 units in three to four years. (Reuters)