Saab owner says $40 million property deal clinched

By LOUISE NORDSTROM | June 28, 2011 | 4:00 AM EDT

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Crisis-hit car maker Saab on Tuesday announced a $40 million deal to sell and lease back property as it struggles to pay off debts that have forced it to halt production and withhold workers' salaries.

Saab's owner Swedish Automobile said it has signed a conditional deal to sell 50.1 percent of the shares in wholly owned subsidiary Saab Automobile Property to a consortium led by Swedish real estate company Hemfosa.

Under the deal, which needs regulators' approval, the buyers have the option to buy additional shares to boost the amount to 300 million kronor ($47 million) Swedish Automobile said.

The announcement comes a day after the troubled auto maker said it had received a euro13 million ($18.4 million) car order from a Chinese company. Swedish Automobile, a Dutch company previously known as Spyker Cars, claimed the deal would provide enough funds to help it pay salaries and part of its debt to suppliers.

Last week, Saab said it had run out of cash to pay its 3,700 workers, raising doubts over how long the brand could survive.

The property deal hinges on approval from the Swedish National Debt Office. The Swedish regulator has guaranteed Saab's loans from the European Investment Bank and must agree to release its collateral in the shares of Saab Property.

Swedish Automobile said the property deal must also be approved by the EIB and the Swedish government.