STOCKHOLM - Saab Automobile, the Swedish unit of U.S. carmaker General Motors, announced 750 job cuts as it tries to stay afloat and said on Thursday investors in both Sweden and China were eyeing the company.
GM, which reported a $30.9 billion net loss for 2008, has said it will shed loss-making Saab at the latest by 2010. Saab was granted creditor protection in February while it restructures and tries to find a savior.
I cannot disclose who they are, but I can confirm that there is a group of investors in Sweden which has shown interest, Saab spokesman Eric Geers told Reuters, adding Saab was being courted by six to eight very large companies in total.
Earlier this week, media reports said a Swedish investor group could be interested in taking over Saab's Swedish peer Volvo Cars, which owner Ford Motors (F.N) aims to sell.
Geers said Saab has attracted interest from investors from several continents, adding it was not wrong to assume Chinese interests were among those eyeing the carmaker.
Sure, one can say that. One can assume that there is a certain interest in that corner of the world. But it's not only China. And one does not know yet how serious their interest is, Geers said.
Saab has hired Deutsche Bank to look for more potential bidders, he said. He added that he hoped to have more information in a week or two about who would be likely candidates.
Earlier this month, sources told Reuters the brand had received interest from several potential bidders, including China's Geely Automobile (0175.HK) and Dongfeng Motor Group (0489.HK).
Saab said on Thursday it had given notice to 750 employees at its Trollhattan plant, in south-west Sweden. Saab employed a total of 4,108 people at the end of 2008, of which about 2,000 were blue-collar workers in Trollhattan.
Saab spokeswoman Annika Troedsson told Reuters the measures would affect 650 blue-collar workers and 100 white-collar employees. These notices are a direct consequence of the recession and the global economic downturn, she said.
Saab Automobile union representative Paul Akerlund told Reuters the job cuts were regrettable but a necessary measure as the company, currently under reorganization, is struggling to control its cash flow while sales have dropped by about 50 percent in the first months of 2009.
We had hoped to have our funding ready by now, with the business plan we have. Unfortunately, we don't have that yet, Akerlund said.
The loss-making unit sought protection from creditors last month to survive the current economic downturn and buy time to find a new owner after its struggling U.S. parent announced it would cut its ties with the brand.
GM has said it aims to create an independent company of Saab, a wholly owned unit since 2000, by January 2010.