China’s Youngman bids for bankrupt Saab again

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Chinese group Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile has made a fresh bid for Swedish carmaker Saab, which went bust in December, Swedish radio reported on Thursday, citing sources.

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Saab, one of Sweden’s best-known brands, shut down production early last year after running out of money and was finally declared bankrupt after protracted rescue efforts by owner Swedish Automobile.

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The public broadcaster said Youngman’s offer was worth several billion Swedish crowns, and the Chinese firm, which had wanted to invest in Saab before the bankruptcy, would under the new proposed deal produce cars at Saab’s factory in Trollhattan in the southwest of Sweden.

Saab’s receivers declined to comment on the report. A Youngman representant was not immediately available for comment.

A key stumbling block that led to Saab’s bankruptcy was the refusal of its former owner General Motors to allow its technology, which underpins Saab cars, to fall into Youngman’s hands.

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Sources have said the Chinese group remained interested and was preparing an offer.

Saab’s PhoeniX platform, expected to be the base of future models, relies very little on GM technology, but any buyer would have to invest heavily to complete the development of PhoeniX.

Any buyer would also have to get permission from defence and security company Saab AB and truck maker Scania to use the Saab name, as they still own the rights to the brand.

Last week, Sweden’s Debt Office said it had paid back loans the European Investment Bank had made to Saab, simplifying the approvals process for any buyer.

Other companies that have been named in the media as considering bids for Saab assets include Indian utility vehicle maker Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd and Turkish investment firm Brightwell Holdings and Swedish engineering firm Semcon.


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