Steane Klose | Dec 12, 2008

Coming just hours after the US House of Representatives passed a bill to provide financial aid for the 'Big Three' (but it still has to get through the US Senate), Sweden has stepped in to ensure the survival of its native brands Volvo and Saab - owned by Ford and GM respectively.

In their commitment to Congress, GM and Ford have pledged to focus on their core brands to ensure they stay afloat; the Swedish pair, also struggling at 'home' and abroad, are not ultimately part of that plan.

Sweden has said it will provide 25 billion Swedish crowns (US$3.1 billion) to ensure Volvo and Saab can continue to keep the doors open. Of this package, 20 billion crowns will be provided in collateral-backed credit guarantees while the remaining five billion crowns will be available in the form of "rescue" loans.

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Surprisingly, the government assistance appears to come with less stipulations and involvement than that offered to the American automotive industry, with one Swedish government official explaining:

"The measures will be taken with the clear assumption that the state does not intend to acquire any of the existing automotive manufacturers."

Further assistance will also be provided through a new state-owned automotive research and development centre, for which the Swedish tax-payer is footing the 3 billion crowns bill.

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With capital markets still in meltdown, governments everywhere are providing assistance to their local automotive car and components manufacturers. Unfortunately, the shake-out in the industry will continue for a while - and we haven't heard the last of Government bail-outs. Fingers crossed our local boys can keep on keeping on.

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