AMSTERDAM/STOCKHOLM - The Swedish government and Saab officials held crisis talks about a threatened closure of the iconic auto brand as a Monday evening deadline loomed on a renewed buyout bid from Dutch and Russian-backed Spyker Cars.
Spyker said on Sunday it had lodged a renewed fast-track offer to buy Saab from General Motors just two days after last-ditch talks with GM over a rescue of the loss-making Swedish manufacturer collapsed.
The offer from Spyker -- seen as a surprise move by the company which made 43 luxury cars last year, compared with Saab's 93,295 sold cars -- expires at 2200 GMT (5 p.m. EST) on Monday.
The Swedish government held talks with Saab officials and local authorities on how to deal with a closure of Saab, ahead of a news conference with Enterprise Minister Maud Olofsson and Labour Market Minister Sven-Otto Littorin at 1515 GMT (10:15 a.m. EST)
Abandoning the 60-year-old Swedish auto brand would eliminate 3,400 jobs in Sweden and hit 1,100 Saab dealers, but General Motors raised hopes on Sunday when it said it would evaluate several new expressions of interest for Saab.
We should be careful about fuelling new hopes in a situation where the people in Trollhattan, and at Saab and their subcontractors are thrown between hope and despair, Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt told journalists.
Spyker Cars said on Sunday it had submitted a new offer to GM, including an 11-point proposal addressing issues that arose during the due diligence process.
We're very confident we have put forward a proposal that can convince GM in time, Spyker Cars Chief Executive Victor Muller told Reuters in a telephone interview on Sunday.
The jury's still out. We will see what happens next.
Shares in Spyker Cars were up 23.5 percent at 2.12 euros by 1431 GMT (9:31 a.m. EST) in Amsterdam as its renewed approach to Saab sparked talk the Dutch firm -- which had a market capitalization of just 26.6 million euros at Friday's close -- may exponentially expand operations and perhaps become profitable.
The stock's value is close to nothing but if they succeed to buy Saab, invest, and turn the company around then the shares can become valuable, said a Dutch analyst who declined to be named.
Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet, citing unidentified sources, said the ownership structure backing the Spyker bid had been altered to placate worries at GM with Russian interests no longer involved.
That which was considered a problem has been solved, the newspaper quoted a source as saying.
Russian banking tycoon Vladimir Antonov holds an almost 30 percent stake in Spyker Cars.
Russian state-controlled Sberbank and Canada's Magna tried to buy a stake in GM's Opel unit until GM decided to keep it last month. Russia is keen to obtain Western technology to re-energize its local car industry.
Spyker Cars said its new offer eliminates the need for a European Investment Bank (EIB) loan approval prior to year end, which would allow the deal to be concluded within GM's deadline of December 31.
The ball is in GM's court and I don't know how GM views this. That remains to be seen, said Paul Akerlund, local union leader at Saab in Trollhattan.
Saab Automobile spokesman Eric Geers declined comment.