A rescue deal for Saab involving China's Hawtai Motor Group collapsed on Thursday, leaving owner Spyker chasing new funding alternatives to restart production at the Swedish carmaker.
Spyker said it was continuing talks with Hawtai, while a source told Reuters that another Chinese company, sports utility vehicle maker Great Wall Motor, was also talking to the Dutch company about a possible tie-up.
Meanwhile Vladimir Antonov is still interested in investing in the troubled Swedish marque, a spokesman for the Russian businessman and former Spyker shareholder said.
Hawtai and Dutch-listed Spyker agreed a deal last week to pump 150 million euros ($216 million) into the loss-making marque and produce a new model in China. But this was spoiled by a failure to get necessary approvals.
The Hawtai deal came only a year after tiny supercar maker Spyker bailed out the General Motors unit. GM retains an interest through redeemable preference shares.
Since it became clear that Hawtai was not able to obtain all the necessary consents, the parties were forced to terminate the agreement with Saab Automobile and Spyker with immediate effect, Spyker said in a statement.
Spyker chief executive Victor Muller declined to comment on the failure of the Hawtai deal, the firm's current financial position or talks with other parties.
Loss-making Saab has veered toward collapse in recent weeks after running out of cash to pay its bills. Several suppliers stopped delivering parts, halting production at Saab's Trollhatten plant for most of last month.
A Saab spokeswoman said that all of its employees, including those who are not working due to the production shutdown, are being paid. Saab had 3,355 staff at the end of 2009.
The chairman of Sweden's association of car industry suppliers Christer Palm said he was very concerned about the production halts.
Talks with suppliers haven't come very far. This is going to take time. Saab needs to find a new shareholder, an approved financier and I hope Victor Muller has one last trick up his sleeve.
MORE CHINA TALKS
Hawtai's failure to complete a deal follows similar cases, including Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery's bid for GM's Hummer, which collapsed in 2010 and China's Xinmao did not have enough time to obtain approvals to continue its bid for Dutch cable maker Draka.
Spyker said Saab Automobile may still enter into a strategic partnership with Hawtai or another Chinese party on manufacturing, technology and distribution in China.
Great Wall declined to comment on any talks.
While China's M&A ambition has grown, it has seen several deals slip through its fingers. Chinese companies are subject to strict policies on foreign acquisitions and many have fallen foul of China's bureaucracy, though it has moved to streamline approvals.
Theodoor Gilissen analyst Tom Muller said that Spyker's reported cash of 70 million euros as of the end of December would have been spent in the first three months of 2011.
It's living by the day, it's not just having money to pay its future obligations, it's what it owes its suppliers already, Muller said.
Dutch shareholder group VEB said there was still hope that Saab could be salvaged.
...Victor Muller is in China now talking, so maybe another Chinese party will step up, said Patrick Beijersbergen, head of economic affairs at VEB.
Spyker shares fell to a two-week low, and were down 10.7 percent at 3.75 euros by 1042 GMT, versus a 0.7 percent fall of the Amsterdam small cap index.
Spyker and Saab Automobile continue to work on securing short and medium term funding. To that end Spyker and Saab Automobile are negotiating equity and debt financing and/or technology licensing with various (strategic) Chinese partners, Spyker said.
Earlier this month Spyker said it had secured a 30-million euro convertible loan agreement with Gemini Investment Fund Ltd -- one of Spyker's shareholders, and that it would also like to draw 29.1 million euros on its loan from the European Investment Bank. Gemini wasn't available for comment on Thursday.
Meanwhile Antonov has also proposed buying a 29.9 percent stake in Spyker for up to 30 million euros, and agreed to buy Saab's real estate and plant and lease it back to release cash.
But those deals have been held up by the European Investment Bank (EIB), which declined to comment. Sypker said discussions were continuing about drawing 29 million euros from an EIB loan and obtaining consent for the sale of Saab property.
(Additional reporting by Amsterdam and Stockholm Newsrooms and Don Durfee and Fang Yan in Beijing; Editing by Alexander Smith)