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, September 13, 2011

Interview with Victor Muller from yesterday

Svenska Dagbladet met with Victor Muller at the Frankfurt airport yesterday and did an exclusive interview with him. Here is a quick translation:

Muller believes Saab will pull through

Bankruptcy or not - that is the question. It all depends on China and the Court of Appeal's decision on a new reconstruction.

- I am convinced that we will pull through and the answer will come during this week, says Victor Muller in an exclusive interview with SvD in Frankfurt.

This is the day when Saab is requested to be declared bankrupt. Victor Muller is visible from a long distance at Frankfurt airport. Tall, wearing a dark blue suit and blue tie, he is fiddling with his two mobile phones simultaneously.

The real reason that Unionen chose to press the button seems simple - it would take longer to get the payroll money from the national wage guarantee if the unions requested Saab in bankruptcy than if the Saab board did the same.

For Victor Muller a bankruptcy is not an option. He raises his voice.

- I do not understand why they did it. We have our bridge financing now and it's so close, he says emphatically.

Cecilia Fahlberg is still holding all doors open and will allow Saab to take precedence in the legal line with its appeal.

Isn't the problem that it is 17 days since you should have paid the salaries to your employees?

- The fact that we have not paid the salaries is the biggest stone in my heart. But I am still surprised .... We are so close.

The issue that overshadows all the decisions on Saab's future is in Beijing. Saab's fix is the following: Saab must wait for decisions from the super-department NDRC in Beijing to get the SEK 2,2 billion from its Chinese partner companies. As SvD Näringsliv could tell on Saturday, the deal has been given the okay at the local level, the next few days a decision is expected on the provincial level. Thereafter, it may take additional time before the NDRC in Beijing decides. And to be clear - Saab's entire future depends on the decision in Beijing.

Imagine that I am a child - tell me why the appeal will succeed when the District Court said no?

- We have now done everything in our power to serve the right information. We have said that a decision from the NDRC will come by 1 November. The big difference is that we now have bridge financing in place - it is conditional to that we are allowed the reconstruction.

What will you do if the decision is no?

- On that I will not speculate now. Now all the focus is that this will go through.

Is it true that you have submitted a complete application [to the NDRC] as late as August?

- We have worked really hard. It is a complex process that begins at the local level. Everything is in the appeal.

What happens if you are allowed a reconstruction?

- Then we will be alright. Then we are protected. Wages can be paid. And with the bridge loan we will try to restart production.

That is the reason he is in Frankfurt - he has kept yet another blazing speech to convince CLEPA, the European suppliers' organization, not to put Saab in bankruptcy.

Do you have the suppliers on your side?

- I do not know, there will be new negotiations. But they are extremely interested in us not going bankrupt.

Saab must be able to pay salaries within a few days. Yesterday a bridge financing materialized in the form of a messy press release, where, somewhat simplified, a bank lends almost SEK 700 million so that Youngman can get access to Saab's new trump card, the Phoenix platform.

- We worked day and night all weekend with teams in Stockholm, Trollhättan, Beijing and with Youngman and Pang Da.

But he will not say which bank is lending the money.

Is it Vladimir Antonov?

-No, he can not, but because not everything is finalized, I can not say who.

So the bottom line - what chance does Saab have with the NDRC in China.

-I am totally convinced that it will go well. All the signals I get from Youngman and Pang Da indicate that. That's why I continue to struggle.

Have you thought about giving up?

- No way. But I am disappointed in the Swedish media.

He lits up - looks like a little boy when he asks if I'm going to the car show.

- It is so sad. We should have been here, but of course we can not use EUR 1,2 million.