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, October 11, 2011

NDRC advising Chinese companies to be cautious with Saab

According to TTELA, Bloomberg news is reporting that Chen Jianguo, who is deputy director of Industry Coordination of China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), is advising Chinese companies to take a cautious approach to any investment plans in Saab Automobile.

"It depends on how it can be implemented. It is dangerous if it is a bottomless pit," said Chen Jianguo in an interview in the city of Chengdu on Tuesday.

According to Saab's and Youngman's time table, a EUR 245 million investment from Youngman and Pang Da should be approved by the NDRC on Friday. But the latest statement from the deputy director is of course not very encouraging.

Saab is presently in desperate need of a EUR 70 million loan promised by Youngman. A loan British car magazine Autocar reports that is very unlikely. According to Autocar, any last-minute rescue deal to save Saab is virtually certain to be blocked by the Chinese government.

Autocar claims that the Chinese government is unlikely to ratify any investment or takeover of Saab as the sale does not include the acquisition of any new intellectual property rights. Former Saab owner GM already has a deal to transfer Saab's Epsilon production line and tooling to its Chinese partner firm SAIC.

In other words we have the same old news reports that say "the NDRC will never approve a Saab deal". But at the same time TTELA now reports that Saab's CEO Victor Muller and the reconstruction administrator Guy Lofalk today met both Youngman and Pang Da in Stockholm. Muller told TTELA that the work is progressing and that the differences between Muller and Lofalk has been sorted out.

"Mr Lofalk is doing a good job. All differences which arose last week has been sorted out during today's meeting," Victor Muller told TTELA.

According to TTELA, one reason that the loan from Youngman has been delayed is that Youngman got worried by reports that the Swedish government was planning to pay back Saab's loan in the European Investment Bank and convert the state's collateral in Saab into shares and sell these shares to any company. In other words, this political meddling did not do Saab any good!

The report from Autocar puzzles me since the loan deal with Youngman concerns Saab's own in-house developed Phoenix vehicle architecture and not any GM based technology. And Saab's own intellectual property should be Saab's to sell. This week will probably be very interesting and probably decisive for Saab's future.