Saab's estate is for sale again as Chinese giant Evergrande struggles

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The seemingly never-ending Saab story has taken another unexpected turn. China-based Evergrande Group is trying to either sell or lure investors to National Electric Vehicles Sweden (NEVS), the unit that owns Saab's assets, as it struggles to claw its way out of a financial rut.

Evergrande is a real estate conglomerate that purchased a controlling stake in NEVS in early 2019 as part of a diversification campaign that recently backfired; it has also poured a significant amount of money into Faraday Future. Its debts amount to over $300 million, according to Reuters, so selling part or all of NEVS could solve this problem. Executives haven't publicly revealed how much the carmaker is worth, though an anonymous source told Reuters it could be valued at up to $1 billion, but company boss Stefan Tilk said that several investors (including venture capital firms and industrial partners) are already interested. Official details like who these companies are aren't available.

There's a lot more at stake than Evergrande's creditors: NEVS will likely collapse without either a major investment or a sale. It laid off about half of its 650-strong workforce in August 2021, according to the same report, and stock exchange filings show that it's running out of money.

What happens next will largely depend on what the folks who invest in or buy NEVS have in mind. Although the firm purchased Saab's assets in 2012, including the factory in Trollhättan, Sweden, it has struggled to resurrect the brand. It's notably not allowed to use the Griffin logo. It built a handful of electric cars, like an updated and electrified version of the Saab 9-3, but it never launched mass production. One of its most promising and credible projects was a joint-venture with Koenigsegg but the partnership was quietly dissolved in September 2021.

Before it fell into dire financial straits, NEVS had seemingly turned its attention to the crowded autonomous shuttle market. In July 2020, it unveiled a box-shaped prototype named Sango (pictured) that was tentatively scheduled to start carrying passengers in Stockholm, Sweden, in 2022. Where the project stands is up in the air, but it may be one of the most valuable and viable parts of the company.

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