UPDATE 1-Sweden says Saab rescue rests on EIB approval

Thu Apr 21, 2011 11:12am BST

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* Swedish debt office approves new financing deal for Saab

* Sweden, Saab await European Investment Bank approval

(Adds background, details)

By Mia Shanley

STOCKHOLM, April 21 (Reuters) - Sweden's debt office approved a financing deal for ailing Dutch-owned carmaker Saab on Thursday and said the only thing needed now was a green light from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

The debt office said in a statement Saab had in recent days been working on minor adjustments to the financing agreement, which aims to solve a cash crunch at Saab which has halted production due to unpaid bills to suppliers.

"Now the debt office and Saab await approval from the European Investment Bank," it said in a statement.

Sweden last week gave conditional backing for ailing Saab, bought by Spyker SPYKR.AS last year, to sell real estate including the plant to Russian businessman Vladimir Antonov and then lease it back. [ID:nLDE73E1Y2]

Business daily Dagens Industri reported that the EIB wanted to alter the terms of the deal and was tearing up nearly every line of the proposal. No-one at the EIB was available to comment.

Spyker Chief Executive Victor Muller told Reuters on Wednesday the financing deal was in its closing stages and he expected a final nod from the EIB. [ID:nN20200995]

Sweden guaranteed a loan from the EIB to Saab worth 400 million euros ($583.9 million), but under the financing deal the loan would fall to 280 million euros.

Spyker bought Saab from General Motors (GM.N) in early 2010. It made just over 32,000 vehicles last year and has targeted 80,000 this year, followed by 120,000 next.

Muller said in the interview Saab had lost about 3,000 vehicles because of the shutdown but expected it could made up later this year.

Sweden, the EIB and GM are also mulling whether to allow Antonov back as a shareholder of Saab, but no decision had been made yet. GM has preference shares in Saab and remains a major supplier to it. (Editing by David Holmes) ($1=.6850 Euro)

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