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Sweden investigates possible Saab investor pullout

The Swedish government has received information on a possible pullout of investors backing a deal by luxury car maker Koenigsegg to buy Saab Automobile, and is making further checks, a government official said on Friday.

“We have received some information, yes, saying that,” said Joran Hagglund, state secretary for Sweden's industry ministry. “We haven't managed to confirm it ourselves with Koenigsegg. We are keen to get this confirmed and are chasing them.”

The question arose after a report on Friday in a regional Swedish daily, Goteborgs-Posten, that said the Saab deal was at risk due to investors possibly pulling out.

Hagglund declined to say where the government's information came from or whether it concerned one or more investors. “But there is nothing, as far as we have understood, that would prevent or complicate a deal between Koenigsegg and GM.”

Swedish niche sportscar maker Koenigsegg struck an accord in June to buy Saab from General Motors GM.UL, backed by U.S. and Norwegian investors. The deal is set to close by the end of the third quarter. Koenigsegg spokeswoman Halldora von Koenigsegg declined to comment on questions regarding investors possibly pulling out.

“Ownership questions are detailed information that I don't have the possibility to comment on today,” she said. “What I can say is that our negotiations with GM are proceeding according to plan.”

Norwegian entrepreneur Bard Eker, who owns part of Koenigsegg through his holding company Eker Group AS, was not immediately available for comment.

Saab is currently under creditor protection.

The Swedish state is negotiating with Koenigsegg about whether to guarantee a possible European Investment Bank loan that would form part of the financing for the acquisition.

Hagglund said the government remained in the dark on how much Koenigsegg and its financial backers would invest in Saab, and he expected an update “shortly” on Koenigsegg's business plan. He said the EIB was likely to decide on a possible loan to Saab by end-September. (Reuters)