IMPORTANT NEWS: National Electric Vehicle Sweden has agreed to buy the assets of Saab Automobile and the sale is expected to be finalized during the summer.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Jonsson and Muller talks about last week's turbulence

Svenska Dagbladet has a good article from Saab's press conference at Saab's Nacka Strand Car Exhibition yesterday.

Picture from Aftonbladet

Here's a translation of the article from Svenska Dagbladet:

"We’re working on strengthening the liquidity"
Saab's retiring CEO Jan Åke Jonsson admits that Saab has had a strained liquidity during the second half of the last quarter and that they are working intensively to solve the problem. However, he denies that Saab has had problems paying their subcontractors.

There were two quite clenched Saab executives who met the media assembly on Saab's own spring exhibition at Nacka Strand, outside Stockholm yesterday morning. The retiring CEO Jan Åke Jonsson and his chairman Victor Muller had planned to present Saab's new model program in peace and quiet, but last week's turbulence on missing components, production disruptions and apparent liquidity problems had moved media’s attention from the cars to the company's financial situation.

- We are confident that we can correct the situation soon. We are working on several options to strengthen liquidity and that includes equity capital, credit facilities and operational improvements, said Jan Åke Jonsson, and adds:

- But we rely also on our loyal suppliers who have been with us a long time, and that they continue to work closely with us.

He also thinks that last week's headlines in many ways were just a media storm and the lack of delivery is a common occurrence in the automotive industry. Saab is working with 720 subcontractors who Saab constantly is in different stages of bargaining with. Why these kinds of negotiations are rarely or never publicised, and why the suppliers and transporters suddenly last week decided to talk to the media, Jan Åke Jonsson could not answer.

- You have to ask them. I will not comment on it and can say that presently we do not have any conflicts with the suppliers.

Saab Automobile's President and main owner of parent company Spyker Cars, Victor Muller, argued strongly that Saab does not have acute financial problems. Saab follows the financial business plan that was made in connection with the reconstruction a little over a year ago and the loss of EUR 158 million last year and the negative cash flow was thus not a surprise.

- Our mistake was to publish our production and sales targets. This means that everyone can compare the number of cars sold with the sales target, but that is not the same as the financial result and that is something we have not communicated before, said Muller.

Both Muller and Jan Åke Jonsson will get a bonus payment, in addition to their regular salary for last year. The reason that bonuses are paid out despite the large financial loss, said Victor Muller, is that the loss is very close to the result in the business plan and that is the criterion for the bonus payments.

Muller also said, speaking of the Russian banker Vladimir Antonov’s ownership in Spyker Cars, and indirectly in Saab Automobile, that Antonov’s money is not necessary for Saab's survival.

- However, it would be good if the Swedish authorities could remove restrictions for certain owners and open up for a broader ownership structure in Saab.

CEO Jan Åke Jonsson retires in connection with the Annual General Meeting of Spyker Cars 19 May. No successor to Jan Åke Jonsson has been appointed yet.