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, February 21, 2012

Let the bidding war begin

Today the Saab bankruptcy administrators held their weekly press conference. Here's a summary of the most interesting points.

According to the administrators, thousands of relevant documents concerning the Saab estate are being scanned and made electronically available for a group of invited parties in a "virtual data room". 6 to 7 parties have been invited to view the documents and to place bids. The administrators are also in a dialogue with additional 5 to 6 parties, but these have so far not been invited to access the documents.

For those parties which are interested in acquiring the estate, now is the time to place their bids. The administrators are still aiming at a solution where the estate is sold as one entire entity, as opposed to in parts. According to the administrators, the business plan of the bidder is just as important as the amount being offered for the estate.

The interested parties have been given a time table for the process and a deadline for bids to been placed within, but the administrators would not reveal this time table to the media. The aim is however still to reach a decision whether to sell the estate as an entirety or in parts by the end of February. But the sale process will probably take longer.

The administrators informed the media that several bids have been received so far, but none of the bidders are seen as more relevant than the others.

There are no meetings planned with any of the interested parties in the near future.


My interpretation of this is that all the 6 to 7 parties invited into the "virtual data room" are interested in a solution where Saab is sold as one entire entity. The additional 5 to 6 interested parties are hence interested in only parts of the estate. Furthermore, that one or more preferred bidder(s) will be selected this month, but the sales process will go into next month.

There seem to be no favourite among the parties so far. The outcome is still wide open.

We known that Chinese Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile placed a bid in January and revised its bid last week. In addition, also Turkish Brightwell Holdings has said that it will place a bid when the administrators invite bids. So now is the time for Brightwell.

Also Indian Mahindra & Mahindra has confirmed interest in Saab. And we can assume that they are among the 6 to 7 parties interested in the entire estate.

These are the three parties that we know have signed a confidentiality agreement in order to be able to bid.

Which leaves us with 3 to 4 unknown parties. Canadian Magna International was mentioned at one point, but a Magna executive said early on that Magna's ambition is to be the best supplier in the automotive industry and not a car manufacturer. But only two years ago Magna had serious ambitions to become a car manufacturer when they tried to acquire Opel. So is Magna totally out of the picture?

Among the rumored parties, also German stakeholders have been mentioned. VAG has been mentioned, but how would Saab fit into the VAG portfolio?

In addition to these, I do not rule out the Russians. AvtoVAZ or GAZ? They certainly need technology, brand name and a distribution network. They can bring money and cost effective subcontractors and manufacturing to the party.