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.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Chinese can save Saab - if Muller steps aside

According to the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, Youngman and Pang Da can save Saab from going under, but Victor Muller needs to step aside.

In a comment made to Reuters, Saab's reconstruction administrator Guy Lofalk says that he has been presented a plan that the Chinese buy all of Saab. He met Chinese authorities which told him that Youngman and Pang Da have the needed resources.

"The Chinese have presented a solution that would be the rescue for Saab. I have met with the Chinese authorities and they have told me that Youngman and Pang Da have sufficient resources to do what is needed. This is a proposal which, if followed through, would save Saab and ensuring production in Trollhättan," Lofalk said.

According to Pittsburg Post Gazette, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said that the two Chinese companies have offered to purchase Saab for a token sum.

Victor Muller dismiss offer
But to Reuters Victor Muller dismiss the offer:

"The token offer was unacceptable because it would trigger every conceivable change of control clause and that would possibly mean the end of Saab."

Which makes me as an observer and enthusiast raise the question about the license deals with GM. Would a Chinese acquisition of Saab void the technology deals with GM?

Muller also reject the claim that it was the Chinese that came up with the plan to buy all of Saab:

"That's what he [Lofalk] says, but it has been obvious the past weeks that he is the driving force of an ownership change where Swedish Automobile is no longer owner. It is the same scheme with Youngman and Pang Da as it was with Geely earlier."

And when asked who is behind all of this, Muller more or less point to the Swedish Government.

"I do not want to speculate, but you do not have to be a rocket scientist to start to reflect on to where it all leads."

Anyway, it looks like there will be no deal between Saab and Youngman and Pang Da as long as Victor Muller is running the show. At least so it seems from what Lofalk says:

"All I can say is that the parties failed to reach an agreement. Now, it appears that the parties have decided to go separate ways and the original reconstruction plan has collapsed, the plan that would protect the company during the time it took for the Chinese authorities to grant investment in Sweden."

The Chinese has more or less confirmed that they are looking at constructing a different deal, saying that the agreement is likely to change:

"The offer may be higher or lower, but we don't know now," said Huang Zhiqiang, vice president of Youngman Automobile Group, to The Wall Street Journal.

Plan B
In trying to force Saab out of reconstruction, Guy Lofalk might think that the plan where the Chinese buy all of Saab may succeed once Saab goes bankrupt or is on the brink of bankruptcy. And the Chinese may see a bankruptcy as a way out of the binding agreement to invest in Saab. But Saab and Victor Muller will fight Lofalk's request to stop the reconstruction. Latest reports say that the request will probably be discussed at the planned creditors' meeting on October 31.

As far as funding and the future is concerned, Victor Muller has a plan B.

"There is always a plan B," Muller told Reuters. When asked what the plan was, he said he would reveal it "only if we resort to it."

Plan B most likely include private-equity firm North Street Capital which yesterday agreed to fund Saab with $70 million.

Alex Mascioli, who is head of North Street Capital, says to Reuters that he is determined to save Saab. Commenting on yesterday's $70 million deal with Victor Muller, he said the following:

"I expect the deal to go ahead. I'm willing to do what I can with my resources for Saab."

Mascioli told Reuters that Saab is an undervalued asset that will survive and from which he expects to turn a profit. He added that North Street Capital has the capacity to take over Saab should it wish to do so.