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SAAB comes down to earth : sold to Chinese firms for just E100 million

SAAB, the famous Swedish car company, "Born from jets" as one of its ad slogans said, is set to be sold to two Chinese companies for €100 million - to be paid in instalments.

The deal with Pang Da Automobile Trade Co. and Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co is subject to certain conditions, including the approval of the relevant authorities, the Wall Street Journal said.

The announcement was made today after the administrator of Saab Automobile's restructuring , Guy Lofalk, asked to withdraw his request to a Swedish court to end the company's creditor protection. The Chinese companies will provide the cash to reorganise the business , he said, adding that there will be "substantial changes" in the restructuring plan.

Production at Saab's factory in Trollhattan, Sweden has been at a standstill since April because of unpaid bills.

SAAB actually started off making planes in 1937 ("Svenska Aeroplan AB " is Swedish for "Swedish Aeroplane Company.") To diversify its business it started making cars in the 1940s, with the first model, the Saab 92001, launched in June 1947. The company developed a reputation for safe and reliable cars- and great success in rallies in the Abba era.

In 1977 Saab created one of the earliest turbocharged "family cars" with the Saab 99 Turbo, listed by Popular Mechanics as the second best turbocharged car ever made.

In 1990 the American company General Motors bought 51 percent of the car division Saab Automobile, and acquired the rest a decade later. In the eyes of motoring writers, it was downhill after that.

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