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, July 5, 2011

Heroes of Saab: Anna Petre

Swedish Resumé has had a talk with one of the little known heroes of Saab, Anna Petre, who is a lawyer and responsible for public affairs. Here's a translation of the interview.

She tries to save Saab

Anna Petre is the lawyer who virtually filled the void when CEO Jan-Åke Jonsson retired. She is head of Saab's public affairs, mother of three and the one who’s negotiating with the government and creditors and tries to save the brand, without the help of public relations consultants.

Saab can not afford hiring consultants to handle crisis nor public relations professionals, and then all the questions end up on Anna Petre’s desk.

- I am the only one on public affairs. No, I have not counted all the hours I’ve worked the last year.

Now she is in Almedalen on the pier beyond Sigyn and demonstrates Saab's new electric car, a 9-3 wagon that can do 200 kilometers. Eventhough Saab does not use a penny on Almedalen this year:

- It would feel bad. The stand here is paid for by our partners in the electric car project and the cars are driven by volunteer enthusiasts who have called and ask if they can help us.

Today she is involved in Bil Sweden's seminar on the automotive industry's future, where she sees that Saab has a given space:

- A year ago we had not so much to offer, but now we are really worth going for. We have taken home the production of the convertible, have an updated 9-3 that meets the green car limit, will have the new 9-5 under that same limit soon, have the 9-4X and the electric car that’s handed over to 70 test customers in August.

Still, it looks darker for Saab than ever:

- We knew we would get a dip in finances in April. The plan was to solve it by letting Vladimir Antonov purchase the property. The government said yes, but the European Investment Bank no. And in early April it was full stop. But now we can handle the short term.

Anna Petre has met politicians from all the parties, but never from the Moderate Party leadership:

- No, I have never met Fredrik Reinfeldt [Prime Minister] or Anders Borg [Minister of Finance]. Their stance is that the Ministry of Enterprise has the responsibility. But I have written and asked to meet Borg.

The media has been tough on Saab, but Anna Petre refuses to describe them all the same:

- It varies, some journalists have speculated and been poor at checking the facts, but most of them try to be objective and the most factual is the local newspaper TTELA.

Right now, Saab can not afford to advertise and has put the search for a new agency on ice:

- Maybe we’ll start looking in the fall, when we have managed this crisis.

For Anna Petre it is not a question if Saab manages the crisis, but when.