AM Online

Jobs threat at Saab

Development costs of the new 9-3 are being blamed for Saab's current £84m half-year losses as speculation grows that the troubled Swedish GM subsidiary is set to announce big job cuts.

Saab chief executive Peter Augustsson is reported as pointing to better times for the marque as 9-3 development costs tail off and the model begins to boost Saab sales towards its 200,000 unit annual target.

He says profitability should be reached at 140,000 units a year – but is vague as to the timescale. “Maybe in one year, maybe in two,” he told reporters this week. Key to Saab hopes for boosted 9-3 sales is enhanced sales in the US.

GM's frustrations with Saab's performance resulted in the dispatch of two GM executives to Sweden earlier this month to oversee major restructuring. Gregory Eveson will take over as chief operating office while Joseph Peter becomes chief financial officer.

The Swedish carmaker has only managed to record an annual profit twice since 1989 – the year GM took a 50 per cent stake in the company. The US car giant took full control in 2000.

Saab sales forecasts for 2002 have been cut from 140,000 cars to about 126,000.

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