A small, privately owned Chinese car maker yesterday saved Sweden’s Saab from imminent collapse through an agreement to provide $223 million (R1.48 billion) for the ailing brand.

Saab’s owner, Spyker Cars, said Hawtai Motor Group would take an initial 30 percent stake in Spyker in the deal, which includes joint ventures on manufacturing, technology and distribution.

The agreement is the latest in a line of efforts by Saab to raise capital, but the first that would provide enough funds to keep the car manufacturer afloat long term.

Its production has been at a standstill since April 6 due to a lack of working capital, but on Monday the firm said it had secured short-term loans of $88m and was aiming to restart production within a week.

The deal was subject to approval from Chinese government agencies, the European Investment Bank and the Swedish National Debt Office.

As a part of the Hawtai deal, the Chinese firm will invest e120m (R1.18bn) for a 29.9 percent equity stake in Spyker and e30m in a convertible loan with six months maturity.

The agreement means Sweden’s two big car makers, previously owned by US companies, are now in Chinese hands. Last year Ford sold Volvo to China’s Geely for $1.5bn. - Sapa-AP