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.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Auto Motor & Sport talks to Victor Muller at NYIAS

Swedish Auto Motor & Sport has had a talk with Saab's Chairman Victor Muller at the International Auto Show in New York. Here's a translation:

Alrik meets the most pressured man in Sweden - Victor Muller 
"This is the first time a bank must accept that we will borrow less money ... But that's the way it is with Saab. Everything we do is unique." says Saab's owner Victor Muller to Alrik Söderlind. 
Editor in Chief Alrik Söderlind is at the motor show in New York where he met with Saab's owner Victor Muller. 
Victor Muller is in a really good mood at the New York salon. He only slept three hours last night, but now the decision from the European Investment Bank is close. 
Saab's booth basically looks like a smaller copy of the booth which was in Geneva - and it applies to all producers except Dodge which is going large. 
We are sitting in the Saab's meeting room and Victor is checking his email on his BlackBerry every three minutes.
He is awaiting the results from the European Investment Bank.
"You want lunch?"
Victor gives me a plastic box with a wrap, a cake and potato chips. But he takes only half a portion himself and his secretary Michelle gets the offer of half a lunch. She laughs. And gets a whole package.

A little talk, then a look at the phone. No. Not yet. No message.
Of course, Victor does not reveal anything new but what still makes him perplexed is the Swedish press.
"When GM owned Saab, they could not do anything right. The media was on their back all the time. And it's the same thing now. In Sweden things are different. Media is different. The aggressive tone against Saab is remarkable. It will be a national debate. I should have been better prepared for it."
Victor says they should have managed the recent crisis and dealt with the money problems and the media better.
"Saab is like a small child, who learns to walk. We make mistakes sometimes, but we learn. We would have gotten through the acute money problems if not all sub-contractors had come at once and demanded money."
- What about Vladimir Antonov?
"I have worked with the process for more than ten months. We are on it."
- Do you have any other major partners in the pipeline?
"Since day one I've been working on various options. We can do with Antonov. I'd rather not water out the shares. But I'm not dumber than I'd rather water out the shares and get a really good partner than keeping the shares as they are and miss a good chance to grow and become profitable. "
Looking at the phone.
- What about the CEO's appointment?
"Right now we are keeping a bit low. We have to fix the finances first. No one leaves a really good job in the current situation to work for Saab. But we have a number of people who are on the short list. It would be really good with a Swedish CEO, but it's not a necessity. But it would be good." 
Looking at the phone.
- How do you see the future?
"My job is to always look forwards, never backwards. I have a lot of plans. But my job is to do business and bring Saab forward, not to run the company day by day. So we must have a good CEO.
Looking at the phone.
And then Michelle says that it is time for the next interview.
"She is my slave driver. All the time new things to do ... But we live on adrenaline. You can sleep when you're dead! And we will fix this."
To be the most pressured car industry manager Victor is in a rudely good mood. I hope it's a good sign.