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Spyker still struggles with Saab

THE HAGUE, April 29, 2011 (AFP) - Dutch car manufacturer Spyker, owner of Swedish brand Saab, published Friday a 72 million euro loss for the first quarter, adding that its sales target for this year was "no longer feasible."

Saab, bought by Spyker from General Motors in January 2010, has been trying to generate funds, including through the sales of real estate, to restart production, hit by stoppages including a dispute earlier this month over unpaid bills.

"It is unclear at this time what the consequences of the recent production stoppages and funding issues will be for our full 2011 forecast, but it is realistic to assume that realizing our 80,000 cars sales forecast is no longer feasible," said Spyker's CEO Victor Muller in a press release.

Saab sold 31,696 cars in 2010.

For 20 years when Saab was owned by GM, the company never turned a profit.

The new figures showed losses of 72 million euros ($106,8 million dollars) in the January-March period this year.

Sweden's debt office on Thursday approved a controversial Russian businessman as a new investor in Saab, offering a glimmer of hope the struggling carmaker will scrape together enough cash to relaunch production.

The Saab factory in Sweden has been shut down since early April after suppliers halted their deliveries due to unpaid bills.

Production plunged in 2009 to 38,756 vehicles as opposed to around 93,000 in 2008.

Saab sold 9,674 cars during the first quarter of 2011 as opposed to 11,448 cars in the last quarter of 2010.

Spyker has previously announced expected losses for 2011, but predicted a return to profitability by 2012 with the sale of 120,000 vehicles.

Based in Zeewolde in central Holland and quoted on the Amsterdam stock exchange, Spyker bought Saab from GM with the intention of relaunching the Swedish brand.

Spyker on February 24 signed a memorandum of understanding to sell its sportscar business to British holding CPP Global Holdings Limited, owned by former Spyker shareholder and investor Vladimir Antonov.

"The transaction was expected to be closed shortly," said Spyker, adding that it did the deal to enable it to focus solely on Saab's activities.


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