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, March 25, 2011

Trollhättan reactions to Jan Åke Jonsson's retirement

As reported earlier today, Saab’s CEO Jan Åke Jonsson will retire from Saab. But there is no reason to worry about the future according to union representative Anette Hellgren and Trollhättan mayor and previous union boss at Saab, Paul Åkerlund. has talked to Paul Åkerlund:

"Wise to step down"
- I understand the decision, says Trollhättan boss Paul Åkerlund. The last year has been very tough and I think he do the right thing stepping down and giving someone new the chance.

Paul Åkerlund is the mayor of Trollhättan. He was up to March of last year, the chairman of the union Metal at the Saab factory.

- I'm not surprised by Jan Åke Jonsson's decision, he tells GT.SE. He has worked really hard for a long time now under much pressure.

- And if you no longer have the energy, it is better to step down and let someone else take over, he says. Next autumn, when the new 9-3 will be launched, is very important.

Although Paul Åkerlund understands Jan Åke Jonsson decision, he thinks it is sad.

- Yes, because he is a genuine Saab person. He has been with Saab for 40 years. But everything has its limits.

Paul Åkerlund feel no more concern for Saab's or Trollhättan’s future now that Jan Åke Jonsson retires.

- No, not because of this, he says. Not more than usual. All companies change managers from time to time. This also applies to Saab.

And has talked to Anette  Hellgren:
The unions at Saab are optimistic about the future
Billion losses, revised sales forecasts and manager changes at Saab Automobile. Nonetheless  the union is optimistic with regard to the car manufacturer's future.

Anette Hellgren is the President of Union, which is one of the unions at Saab. She is not worried about Saab's future without Jonsson, who on Friday announced his resignation as president and CEO of Saab.
“I respect his decision, he has done a fantastic job for the company. I wish him good luck for the future”, she says.

Saab has several tough years behind and Jan Åke Jonsson, who has been CEO for six years, has during the crisis been the stability in a company characterized by constant change. The company has changed ownership, production forecasts have been written down and finances have been doubtful.

Jan Åke Jonsson has led the company through the crisis and the symbol of stability for Saab. How will his departure the company's future?
"All companies have different cycles and we will make something good out of this, as we have done all the time during the crisis. He was extremely important to us then and it was probably crucial that he stayed with Saab and steered the company and believed in us, as many others did not. We will use the strength we have in the company to make something good out of this and see to it that someone new that believes in us can come in."

How will this affect the confidence in Saab?
"I hope it is not affected at all, and that people look forward and sees there a new ear is coming where we are an independent company."

Last week, the prospective vice CEO Nils-Johan Andersson resigned even before he had started in the job. Despite that Anette Hellgren does not agree that there is a problem composing a management team.
"I do not link the events. These are two different events that just happened at the same time”, she says.
Jan Åke Jonsson will remain as CEO until the general meeting in May, then the chairman Victor Muller will be CEO until a new CEO is appointed.

"During a transition period that is a necessary change, and there’s nothing strange about that. But for me it does not fell like a long term solution to combine the positions of both client and provider as one might describe the situation", says Anette Hellgren, chairman of the Union Club at Saab Automobile.

What is the atmosphere at the company right now?
"I have not been at work today and do not know how staff and members have reacted. But I do not think there is anyone who thinks it's weird, but we will quite simply miss him".

What's ahead?
"First our chairman Victor Muller will run the company until we appoint a new CEO to the company. And in addition the rest of the management group is of course here. The group is a strong team and keeps on working as usual, as we always do.”

You says a new CEO to the company, does that mean that you think there will be appointed someone from outside the company?
"Yes, I hope so. I hope we have done so well and that we are such an interesting company that we can attract good leaders. There are probably already thoughts about who it could be."

Anette Hellgren says that a new CEO needs commitment, optimism and an entrepreneurial spirit, someone who can complement Victor Muller in the future. She thinks that the person has to continue in the spirit of Jan Åke Jonsson and the path he has set out. But she has no suggestions to who it could be.