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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Endeavor Advisory Group optimistic about raising funds for Saab

Just-auto reports that Endeavor Advisory Group, which Saab has hired to help raise funds, is expressing optimism about reaching a deal as several parties are interested in helping Saab. According to Endeavor, the group is hopeful a deal with Saab can be "consummated".

Earlier reports claimed that Endeavor is working on raising $350 million (approx SEK 2.3 billion), which is much more than the SEK 1 billion mentioned earlier today in connection with reports that Saab is negotiating with a huge European bank to secure a bridge loan to keep Saab up and running until the investments from Chinese companies Pangda and Youngman are expected to be finalized later this autumn.

Which raise the question if these are two different deals that are in the works. It is certain that Saab needs at least SEK 1 billion to pay wages and settle the accounts with its suppliers so that the production can be restarted. And it has also been mentioned before that Saab wants to get out of the loan agreement with the European Investment Bank (EIB) and thus transfer this loan to private commercial banks. The EIB loan is EUR 205 million (approx SEK 2 billion) according to the semi-annual report, and replacing this loan with loan(s) from private commercial bank(s) could be the job Endeavor has been hired to do.

Swedish Automobile semi-annual results 2011

Swedish Automobile semi-annual results for 2011 has just been released and is available for download from Saab's media site.

Some points from the report:
  • Half year operating loss of EUR 201.5 million (comparable figure 2010: EUR 21.9 million)
  • Half year net loss of EUR 224.2 million (comparable figure 2010: EUR 55.7 million)
  • Sale of Spyker Automotive (Spyker sports car producer) has been suspended 

Here's the "high lights" copied and pasted from the report:

· H1 2011 sales of € 359.0 million, Q2 sales of € 101.9 million

· H1 EBIT of € (201.5) million, Q2 EBIT of € (122.2) million

· Cash generated from operations in H1 amounts to € (44.9) million

· Securing additional funding, restarting production and stabilizing operations top priority for management

· Longer term financing of EUR 245 million conditionally secured through agreements with Pang Da Automobile Trade

· Company Ltd (“Pang Da”) and Youngman Automotive Group Company Ltd (“Youngman”)


· Sales performance seriously affected by production stoppages and tight liquidity situation during second quarter

· 12,871 cars sold (wholesale) in H1 2011 compared to 10,240 in H1 2010, an increase of 26%

· 15,194 cars sold (retail) in H1 2011, up 44% compared to 10,535 in H1 2010

· 12,877 cars produced in H1 2011, compared to 11,851 in H1 2010, an increase of 9%

· 3,197 cars sold (wholesale) in Q2 2011 compared to 7,984 in Q2 2010, a decrease of 60%

· 5,801 cars sold (retail) in Q2 2011, up 5% compared to 5,539 in Q2 2010

· 1,989 cars produced in Q2 2011, compared to 9,497 in Q2 2010, a decrease of 79%

· Roll-out of Saab 9-4X into markets underway, first cars sold in US


Victor R. Muller, CEO of the Group and CEO and Chairman of Saab Automobile, said: “It will come as no surprise that this has been an unbelievably tough quarter for this company. Nothing is worse than having to delay salary payments to your loyal employees and they deserve nothing less than my sincere apologies. Moreover, our ever tighter financial situation resulted in sustained production stoppages, lost revenues and a significantly increased operating loss. Our business plan is under review pending completion of funding negotiations and to reflect ventures with our future partners Pang Da and Youngman.”

“There are rays of light on the horizon as well. We have booked good progress in negotiations with our suppliers on payment and delivery terms, and we continue our effort to secure additional near-term funding to enable a sustainable restart of production. Investor interest exists in Saab Automobile based on a continued belief in the long-term prospects for the brand and the company. Despite the company’s current predicament, they recognise the potential of the Saab business: several new vehicles waiting to be launched in global markets, loyal customers who continue to order cars to this very day, a strong premium brand, committed and well-funded new Chinese partners and a highly-skilled workforce responsible for many innovations in the automotive business.”

“However, we know that we can’t look too far into the future just yet. Right now, the focus of Saab management is on working as hard as possible to bring the company back into calmer waters by significantly strengthening our financial position, reaching agreement with all our suppliers on payment and delivery terms and restart production as soon as possible. We are evaluating all available options in order to secure continuity of Saab Automobile.” 

Saab in negotiations with huge European bank

Updated with info from Bloomberg 

Yesterday it was reported that Saab was in talks with a huge and well-known financier. This has now been corrected to a huge and well-known finance institution.

According to Dagens Industri, it's a huge European bank which Saab and its parent company, Swedish Automobile, are presently negotiating with to secure short- and medium-term funding. As collateral, Swedish Automobile will use it's shares in the company Saab Great Britain Ltd.

To my ears this sounds like great information. If a huge and well-known European bank is willing to back Saab, then it is a sign of confidence. And if a deal is reached, maybe Saab can get some peace and quiet from the worst of the Swedish press. And hopefully once again start focusing on developing and producing cars!

According to Bloomberg, their sources say that this is one of the five biggest banks in Europe. The funding is a SEK 1 billion loan and can be announced as early as tomorrow.

A SEK 1 billion bridge loan will hopefully be enough to pay salaries and settle the accounts with suppliers and thus hopefully restart production.

Later this afternoon Swedish Automobile will publish the semi annual results for 2011. Can we expect an announcement about this loan at the same time?

Saab dealers standing up for the brand

"We want to show a little more decency and patience than some other dealers. It is after all a Swedish brand one should stand up for and be proud of," says Lars Dahlensjö, CFO at the Swedish Saab dealer chain BIVA, as a comment to the recent news about one Swedish Saab dealer dropping Saab and one removing Saab from the show rooms.

And his boss, Lars-Åke Sundén who is CEO at BIVA, concurs: "I have a hard time understanding the dealers that's now defaming Saab and stop selling their cars," he says.

Also the CEO at Svenska Bil, Jan Martinsson (picture), agrees. "Time is a problem, but I believe that they will succeed in restarting the factory," Jan Martinsson tells DI.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Well-known financier coming to Saab's rescue?

Yesterday it was reported that Saab was close to securing short- and medium-term funding. Today more information has emerged. According to Peter Hallberg, who is head of the Saab dealers' association, Saab is in discussions with a major and well-known financier.

"It is a major and well-known financier, and such a financier should not rush into this kind of discussion if a deal wasn't possible," Peter Hallberg told Swedish news agency TT.

Hallberg was given this information in a telephone meeting with Victor Muller yesterday.

"It is a major financier and what I know about them from earlier makes me believe this is serious."

Hallberg thinks that a possible reconstruction which has been mentioned as an option, is only a last resort.

"I understood after the meeting how important it is for Victor Muller that Saab settle the account with everybody it owes money," Hallberg said and continued saying that a reconstruction would also involve the Chinese partners as well as Vladimir Antonov, and that would not be the best basis for a continued cooperation with the Chinese and a discussion about a new ownership structure.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Saab close to securing short-term funding

According to Automotive news, their source close to the negotiations says that Saab is close to securing short-term financing. Financing that will bridge Saab over to autumn when it is expected that the Chinese partners Pang Da Automobile Trade Co. and Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co. will invest EUR 245 million in Saab.

The source says that Saab's management is "very optimistic" about rasing the needed funds this week. Late last week the source told Automotive News that saab is negotiating with several possible parties to get short- and medium-term funding to restart production

To Automotive News, Saab's CEO Victor Muller confirms that a reconstruction is one option to win time.

"We will not rule out anything," Muller told Automotive News. "We are focused on a solution, and if the collection agency moves forward we have to protect ourselves."

Trading a fantasy for a Toyota Corolla

Do you need a reminder why a Saab is special? A reminder why Saab needs to survive?

Then you should read Charles Saydah's story of his fantasy car, a Saab 9-3 convertible. And despite the convertible's lack of every day convenience how driving a dull Toyota Corolla makes him long for the Saab 9-3 he traded in.

"A longtime colleague tried to ease my sense of loss by extolling the looks of the Corolla. I appreciated her comforting words, but I told her the Corolla is just a car. It gets me from here to there without worry, but its lack of pickup is a reminder that Saab made jet engines, and Toyota doesn't."

The protection of the Saab name and the Gripen logo

Some of my readers are probably thinking that the Chinese companies Pang Da and probably especially Youngman since the company is a vehicle manufacturer, are just waiting for Saab to go bankrupt and then move in and pick up the technology and/or the brand name for pocket change.

Well, it seems it's not that easy. The use of the brand name SAAB and the Gripen logo is actually regulated by an agreement between Saab Automobile AB, the aerospace and defence company Saab AB and the commercial vehicle developer and producer Scania AB.

The aerospace and defence company Saab AB uses both the name Saab and the Gripen logo, while Scania AB only uses the Gripen logo. And as we all know, Saab Automobile AB uses both the name Saab and the Gripen logo.

According to reports in the Swedish media, the agreement between the three companies says that the brand name Saab and the Gripen logo can not be sold as a separate asset without the consent of the other parties of the agreement. The only feasible way for someone to aquire the brand name and the logo is to buy the whole Saab Automobile AB company, like Spyker Cars bought Saab from General Motors. The agreement also says that Saab Automobile AB can only develop and sell private vehicles (passenger cars) and services connected to this.

This would mean that Youngman for example, can not just buy the brand name and logo and start making Saab cars in China. And if they would buy the whole Saab Automobile company, they can not start making Saab commercial vehicles, as that would be a breach of agreement and probably upset Scania.

In other words, the best bet for Youngman and Pang Da is to make sure Saab survives the short term crisis and rely on the Chinese authorities to approve their plans to buy 53.9 per cent of Saab.

Majority of Swedish Saab dealers have no plans to drop the brand

Swedish Radio has been in contact with about half of the 40 Saab dealers in Sweden, and the message is clear: They have no intentions to drop Saab.

"We will continue to sell Saab if there is an opportunity to do so, we are waiting for an answer," says Johnny Schmidt, CEO of Järna Bilcentrum.

And even though the Trollhättan factory hasn't produced a single car for months now, people are still ordering new Saabs.

"We presently have an order book, it is not as big as it used to be earlier, but we have an order book which is primarily for the 9-5 SportCombi which people have been waiting for. There were people who ordered the car as soon as we had the facts and specifications this spring," says Björn Pettersson, CEO of Bil-City in Kristianstad.

Also Swedish newspaper Västerbottens Kuriren has spoken to a Saab dealer. They went to Carstedts in Umeå.

"We will continue with Saab whatever happens," says Pär Wennberg, site manager at Carstedts.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Another reconstruction?

Update: Mats Fägerhag , Vice President Vehicle Product Development at Saab, denies the reports that Saab is preparing to file for a reconstruction.

"We have not taken any decision to apply for a reconstruction," Mats Fägerhag told TT. When asked if this is an option Saab is considering, Fägerhag said: "We're not working on that option now. I can not say that the option will not be considered later. Nothing can be ruled out, but we are not working on a application for a reconstruction now."

Update II: Saab's parent company, Swedish Automobile, has now issued a press release that neither denies nor confirms that Saab is planning for a reconstruction. It says that all available options will be evaluated.

To Bloomberg Eric Geers, Executive Director of Communication at Saab said: "We're still focusing on securing financing, but in order to ensure the continued security of Saab, we remain open to all available options." 

Earlier today Swedish radio claimed that the management of Saab is, as one option, preparing to apply for a reconstruction of the company. That means that the company will go to the court and ask to be allowed to start a process where the organization of the company and the debt of the company may be restructured. For the court to allow for this to take place, there must be a viable future for the company.

A reconstruction would mean that Saab would be allowed to reorganize and/or reduce the workforce and most importantly, ask for debt settlement proceedings and thus write down of debt. But for this to happen, a mayority of the creditors must approve the write down of debt.

The debt is most likely much less now than it was back in 2009 when Saab went through its first reconstruction. Estimates earlier this summer said that the debt to suppliers could be SEK 1 billion. When Saab went through a reconstruction in 2009, the debt was around SEK 11 billion. Most of the debt, around SEK 8 billion was to GM, and the rest which would be around SEK 3 billion was to other and smaller suppliers. Of the SEK 11 billion, 75 per cent or SEK 8.3 billion was written down.

This time around much less debt would need to be written down, maybe less than SEK 1 billion. But much of this would still need to be done on the expense of smaller suppliers which also saw their money claims being written down just two years ago. These small suppliers may still depend on Saab and would maybe once again accept a write down. But what about the bigger foreign suppliers, suppliers which do not depend on Saab, will they once again be willing to help Saab? Will GM, which probably still is Saab's biggest supplier, be willing to help Saab once more?

And how does the European Investment Bank (EIB) fit in? Will the EUR 217 million loan given by the EIB to Saab be part of the proceedings? And why on earth would they accept a write down when they have fullproof securities in the guarantees from the Swedish Government?

Under the current circumstances I am a bit doubtful that a reconstruction will be allowed by the court and if it is, I am also doubtful if the creditors will accept a write down of debt. The last time Saab went through a reconstruction, both the court and most suppliers believed in a future for the company. Now, after low sales and huge losses, the confidence in a future for Saab may have been lost. And especially among the foreign suppliers and the EIB.

In other words, I don't really consider a reconstruction as a possible option. I still believe in Saab and a future for Saab, but that future needs to the funded by investors and not suppliers.

If the reports that the management is preparing to file for reconstruction are factual, then I assume we will get more information in the hours and days to come.

1,000 wage-earners so far affected by Saab's problems

According to the Swedish news media TTELA, almost 1,000 Swedish wage-earners have so far been affected by the troubles Saab has run into.

The Swedish association of suppliers has looked at 15 companies which has been affected by the troubles in Saab. The employees at these companies have either lost their jobs because of cut downs in the work force and because of bankruptcy at suppliers, or have gotten a notice that they might lose their jobs because of cut downs. If Saab is to go bankrupt, then the workers who have received a notice will also lose their jobs. Together with 4,000 emoployees at Saab and according to earlier estimates another 4,000 employees at different suppliers, sub contractors and service providers.

And on top of this, their families will of course be affected one way or the other. Losing your job is in many cases a dramatic social experience, both for the employee and the other members of the family. And it will be especially hard for families with young children and families where both providers lose their jobs.

When one looks at the Swedish auto industry, it is also clear that without Saab the supplier base will get smaller and the international supplier might even discontinue their operations in Sweden.

"The major international suppliers have begun to reorganize and some are already planning to move operations from Sweden. We would instead need to strengthen the cluster," said Svenåke Berglie, head of the Swedish association of suppliers, to TTELA.

In other words, saving Saab from bankruptcy is imperative both for thousands of workers and their families, but also for the future of Swedish auto industry.

The good news is that another SEK 25 million (less than EUR 3 million) for the partial sale of Saab Automobile Property AB is according to expected to be received next week. But this will of course not cover all incurred costs as the immediate cash need is at least EUR 17 million.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wanted: EUR 17 million

According to Belgian, Saab is in immediate need of EUR 17 million. The wage payments due today and tomorrow amounts to EUR 11 million and the Swedish Debt Enforcement Agency is in the process of collecting EUR 6 millions in debt.

And on Saab's Swedish bank accounts there is only EUR 100,000 according to the Debt Enforcement Agency.

That's the very short-term need of money. But as we all know, next month new wage payments are due and the debts to suppliers are also piling up and several million euros are probably due the weeks to come.

Two Saabs 50 years apart

Today two interesting test drives have popped up. First we have one from Octane. Writer John Simister has swapped his two-stroke Saab 96 with no other than Erik Carlsson's two-stroker and they go for a drive and talk about Erik's rally career and the great Saab rally cars. It's a very entertaining read.

Second one is from Motortrend. They have taken the new Saab 9-4X on a test drive and like so many test driver before them, they seem to like the car:

"Feels much more like a sedan than most other crossover SUVs."

"Great post-modernist Swedish styling is, and here, the 9-4x excels."

"...the 9-4x is possibly the best-looking vehicle extant to wear the sport/utility descriptor. It looks sleek and sporty, low to the ground for a CUV."

Check it out at Motortrend.

Could Youngman come to the rescue?

We have heard earlier that Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co. was considering helping Saab with funds so that our beloved car maker will survive until late autumn when it is expected that China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has made a decision whether to allow Chinese Pang Da Automobile Trade Co. and Youngman to invest in Saab.

So far nothing has come of this. But now a reporter from msn autos claims to have talked to a Saab PR guy at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance auto exhibition who told him that Victor Muller was at Pebble Beach on Friday but had left to take care of the final details with Youngman that will give Saab the capital it needs to get back on track.

But as the msn autos reporter writes, who knows what is true and what is not... 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

No wage payment tomorrow

Saab now confirms that there will be no payment of wages tomorrow. That means that the blue-collar workers will not receive their wages tomorrow, and if there's no progress in the search for funding during tomorrow, the white-collar workers will not receive their wages on Friday.

"The wages that were to be paid tomorrow will be delayed. The wages will not be paid tomorrow," Gunilla Gustavs (picture) from Saab's information department told Swedish news agency TT.

When asked about the wage payments to the white-collar workers, due on Friday, Gustavs said "We'll have to see. We do everything we can to raise the money needed. We'll see how fast we can do it."

Unions likely to push for bankruptcy in case of no wage payments

According to Bloomberg, two of the unions at Saab have said that they are likely to file for bankruptcy in Saab in about two weeks unless wages have been paid.

The two unions IF Metall and Unionen say that they will first file a payment request and give Saab seven days to pay. If wages have not been paid by then, the unions may push for a bankruptcy in Saab.

"We must start the process, as there's no alternative to our moving to protect our members' wages," Veli-Pekka Saikkala, head of salary negotiations at IF Metall, tld Bloomberg. "Later, if we don't see a solution, we'll likely be forced to act."

"We haven't decided if we would file for bankruptcy but that would be a natural part of the process," Anette Hellgren, Unionen's representative at Saab, said to Bloomberg. "We're taking one day at a time and are still hopeful it won't come to that."

Eric Geers, Executive Director of Communication at Saab, said "we are doing everything we can to prevent salaries being paid late this time, but there's still a risk that will happen. Paying the salaries is our No. 1 priority, and our second priority is to restart production."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Risk of late payment of wages... again

Today Saab has announced that there is a risk that the wage payments for August, due out this Thursday and Friday, may be delayed. Reason being that some of the funds that were committed by investors may not be paid in time to effect such salary payments.

"This is a very important assignment"

Local Trollhättan newspaper TTELA has spoken with the next in command at Endeavor Advisory Group, Mark Resnick, about the job to secure funding for Saab.
Mr Resnick has written an article which is published in the newspaper today where he asks suppliers, government and other stakeholders to hold on for just a few more days.

"It's really just a matter of days," he tells TTELA, and adds that it can be about 10 days. 

"This is no ordinary task, I feel a deep commitment to the work for Saab and do everything to make it a success," says Mark Resnick and continues: "I can not comment anything about the current process or the potential investors we work with, but this is an assignment that is not similar to anything else. We really feel for the assignment for Saab. There are far too large values ​​that would disappear if the company and the brand will disappear."

In other words, people are working very hard and full-heartedly to save Saab! 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Victor Muller working day and night to secure bridge funding

Automotive News has spoken briefly with Saab's CEO Victor Muller, who are working day and night on securing Saab's future.

Through Automotive News Victor Muller urges dealers to keep faith and says that he is close to securing bridge funding that will tide Saab over until mid-October. By mid-October the cash investments by Chinese companies Youngman and Pang Da are expected to be approved and finalized.

Until then the bridge funding is supposed to restart production and keep Saab over water.

"I am working day and night to get this done," Muller told Automotive News. "I am very confident I will be able to pull it off, but we don't need anyone to throw in the towel now."

Swedish dealer BilPartner removing Saab from all showrooms

Last week Swedish dealer Holmgrens Bil decided to drop Saab. Today it is reported by Sydsvenskan that dealer BilPartner Skåne, present at ten locations in Swedish Skåne, has decided to remove all Saab cars from their showrooms until further notice.

"We have decided to take a time out concerning Saab. In the uncertain state that Saab is in, we will stop all new car sales. In the current situation it is impossible to give car buyers a clear indication of when or if they can get a Saab," says BilPartners Chairman Anders Carlsson.

"If we are to start selling new Saab cars again," Carlsson continued, "then we expect a clear message from Saab that they have solved the problems so that the production and the deliveries can be resumed."

Looks like time is starting to run out on Saab! This week we need some very good news!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Does your Toyota embarrass you?

If your Toyota embarrass you, then you can try to disguise it as a Saab like this Toyota owner has done:

Spotted on 

BIVA in Norrköping on board with Saab till the bitter end

Lately we have read about one of the oldest Saab dealers in the USA, New Salem Saab, going out of business and one of the larger dealer networks in Sweden, Holmgrens Bil, dropping Saab. But there still remain hard core Saab supporters among the dealer base. For instance BIVA in Norrköping. The location manager, Conny Lingeby, tells Folkbladet that as long as the Saab manufacturing is only halted and Saab not closed down, there is still hope.

According to Conny Lingeby, BIVA in Norrköping has no plans to drop Saab.

"As long as the manufacturing plant in Trollhättan remains, we will not do what Holmgrens Bil in Småland did," Conny Lingeby says.

Conny Lingeby tells the newspaper that they still have new Saab cars on sale in Norrköping despite the fact that the manufacturing at Saab has been halted for half a year now. And they still believe in a future for Saab.

"Yes, we still have hope, even if it is difficult at the moment. So were are not making any decision about dropping Saab, not until they stop making Saab cars. We will be on board as long as the manufacturing plant lives on, so to speak."

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Chinese deal on track for autumn approval

Marketwatch has a short notice that Saab's bank accounts in the Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken, which the bank froze earlier this week on request of the Swedish debt enforcement agency, can now once again be accessed by Saab. According to the bank, the freezing of the account was a mistake and has now been corrected.

Also in the short article a spokesman of Saab/Swedish Automobile has said that the approval of Chinese Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co. and Pang Da Automobile Trade Co's investment in Saab's parent company Swedish Automobile is on track and a decision is expected this autumn. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Swedish dealer network Holmgrens Bil drops Saab

The Swedish dealer network Holmgrens Bil AB today announced that they have terminated the dealer contract with Saab. The dealer network is present on nine different places in southern Sweden and have been selling Saabs for 20 years. It is unclear if all these locations were Saab dealer. The group will however still offer to service Saab cars.

Sad news but not very surprising given that the CEO of Holmgrens, as reported here on Life with Saab, told SvD a few days ago that their focus was totally off Saab at the present. Also I do not appreciate what Holmgren writes in the press release about the situation for Saab recently. I would have expected more dignity and respect from a company that claims to be a professional business. 

Restart of production further delayed?

According to a note from, which refers to an interview that the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet has done with Saab's Vice President Purchasing & Manufacturing, Gunnar Brunius, the production at Saab will not be restarted 29 August as planned. Instead a restart will depend on when and if Saab can solve the short term funding the remaining of this year.

According to the note, Brunius did however express optimism about Saab's future.

Endeavor Advisory Group working to raise Saab $350 million in debt financing

Over the night there has been some news that Saab/Swedish Automobile has hired Endeavor Advisory Group as investment banker to raise Saab $350 million in debt financing, this according to a blog entry by a reporter at Pacific Business News.

According to this blog Chairman and CEO of Endeavor, David Khalilzad said “We are very pleased that Saab Automobile AB has chosen Endeavor and Saab CEO Victor Muller said it is great to work with Endeavor Advisory Group."

To Gunilla Gustavs from Saab's information department said: "Their task is simply to help us raise money".

To Swedish Radio Gustavs said: "They are experts and this will help us find funding. We have said earlier that we are looking for other ways of funding to strengthen our finances short term.[...] I can say that we are working extremely hard. And now we have some great experts to help us. So we are moving forwarda, but we will only comment when we have something definite to communicate."

My immediate thought was that this debt financing had to be connected to the work to get rid of the loans from the European Investment Bank that is hampering Saab possibilities to conduct the business the way Saab see fit. But now the comments from Gustavs can also imply that this financing could be for the short term liquidity squeeze.

The question is of course how far Endeavor and Saab's hunt for money has come. Swedish Aftonbladet writes that analysts they have been in contact with says that it is unlikely that Endeavor's CEO David Khalilzad would make such a comment unless the money was already secured.

 There is also some news from the Swedish debt enforcement agency, Kronofogden. TTELA writes that the debt reported to the enforcement agency has reached more than 90 cases involving a debt of more than SEK 163 million. So far only a small fraction (around SEK 5 million?) of this debt has made it to the process where the enforcement agency freezes Saab's assets.

The question the employees at Saab ask themselves now is if the actions taken by the enforcement agency will jeopardize their August wages, due to be paid the coming week.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Old 9-5 technology lives on as Beijing Auto C70G

According to China Car Times, the old Saab 9-5 technology (1998-2010) will live on as Beijing Auto's C70G sedan. It is still unclear when the car will be launched, but now a few black and white renders have been leaked.
From what I can see, they have changed the front with a new bumper, grille, head lights and even a new bonnet. And the front overhang is now bigger than it was on the 9-5.

In the rear the bumper and tail lights are changed, and maybe even the width of the lid?

The first BAIC Saab based car to reach the market is expected to be a 9-3 based sedan to be introduced at the end of 2011.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Saab and the suppliers

As reported here the last couple of weeks, Saab's debt to suppliers is piling up at Sweden's debt enforcement agency, Kronofogden, and there's also been some reports that foreign suppliers have considered filing for bankruptcy in Saab.

According to TTELA and DI, the debts enforcement agency has so far received SEK 42 million of debt to be collected. But before the agency can start to look for money to cover these debts, Saab will be given a chance to pay the debt voluntarily. Saab gets 16 days to pay. Yesterday was the last day for Saab to pay two of these debts. One amounting to SEK 144,000 to Kongsberg Automotive and one of SEK 224,000 to Infotiv. If Saab had not paid these debts yesterday at the latest, the debt enforcement agency will today start to look at Saab's assets and possibly freeze assets and thus secure money to cover the debts. The first place to look is into Saab's bank accounts. Another SEK 4 million in debt will fall due during this week and if it has not been paid in time, the debt enforcement agency will also try to secure this money by freezing assets.

In addition to the SEK 42 million, the agency has also received other debts that so far has not proceeded to the collection phase. Thursday last week for instance, the supplier IAC reported another SEK 42 million, which makes Saab's debt to IAC which has been reported to the debt enforcement agency a total of SEK 73 million.

According to Saab, the company is in contact with the debt enforcement agency concerning the process and the course of events.

But these debts are of course just the tip of the iceberg. The total debt is assumed to be at least SEK 1 billion.

Yesterday Saab's CEO Victor Muller spoke with both the FKG - Association of Swedish Automobile Suppliers and CLEPA - the European Association of Automotive Suppliers. The message was clear: No suppliers will be favored over another.

"One important answer I got from Victor Muller and even Saab is that no one supplier is favored over another and I believe what he said. If there was uncertainty on that point, a war could have broken out. And there is no supplier that has something to gain on a Saab bankruptcy, the assets would still be tied to others in case of a bankruptcy,"  Lars Holmqvist, head of CLEPA told TTELA.

When asked if any suppliers still consider filing for bankruptcy in Saab, Holmqvist said:

"I don't know, but I would think that they don't."

Holmqvist also said that Victor Muller seemed convinced that the production would restart.

"Yes, he is completely convinced. And of course faith can move mountains, even if this is a very large mountain," Holmqvist said.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

"I can advice you not to go on vacation this week..."

Here's an uplifting little note. According to a blog entry from one of the writers of Vi Bilägare, which is one the biggest car magazines in Sweden, a reporter from Swedish business paper and news site Dagens Industri yesterday asked Eric Geers, Executive Director of Communication at Saab, if a new funding deal will be ready this week. To which Geers answered the following:

"I can advice you not to go on vacation this week..."

In other words, can we expect a funding deal to be presented this week?

Yesterday over at Inside Saab, Swade wrote an entry about "The Deal". A deal that will carry Saab through the liquidity shortfall and into the future and be the basis to restart production.

I would say that that the signs are pointing towards a solution. But time is of essence! 

Swedish dealers keep the faith in Saab?

Last week we was told by DI that several Swedish Saab dealers were on the verge on giving up on Saab. Now SvD has spoken to a few random dealers and asked if they are considering dropping Saab:

Fredrik Mård, sales manager Bilcenter in Nyköping: "The idea to phase out the brand has been mentioned but we are still optimistic. So far all the balls are in the air and the customers have not yet begun to cancel the cars that they have ordered but time is of essence."

Fredrik Mård, sales manager at Bilcenter
Michael Nordberg, CEO of Svenska Bil AB: "At the present we will keep Saab but we have plans to find other alternatives. Time is running out. New car sales have come to a standstill and people who have ordered a Saab are now starting to cancel the order."

Anders Carlsson, head of sales Bilpartner Skåne: "We will not phase out the brand. Last week we sold three Saabs, and in July we delivered seven or eight. Now we have 50 or so cars in order. Before the summer holiday a couple of customers cancelled their order."

Benny Holmgren, CEO Holmgrens Bil: "We have no focus on Saab today, instead we concentrate on things we can make money on. There are very few who order a Saab from us, so order intake is negligible."

Pär Wennberg, site manager Carstedts in Umeå: "It's not so long since we started selling Saab, so we are fairly new in terms of the brand. At the workshop everything runs as usual but on the sales side not much is happening. Now we await and hope for the best."

So can we say that four out of five dealers still have faith in Saab?

Also worth noting is that SvD claims that sources with insight into the process of the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), which decides if Youngman and Pang Da will be allowed to invest in Saab, say that a decision can come sooner than we have expected. Maybe already within a month!

The 9-5 offers a big car that perfectly suits the prestige segment

"Forgetting for a moment the mist surrounding its future, the 9-5 offers a big car that perfectly suits the prestige segment. It is very well equipped and I'm delighted to note it retains the indelible Saab character that classes it - and its owner - as something special."

That's how Neil Dowling of Australian The Sunday Times describes Saab's latest offering in Australia, the Saab 9-5 Aero. If that tickles your curiosity, then head over to CarsGuide to read the whole review.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Saab will not attend the Frankfurt Motor Show in September

Saab will not attend this year's Frankfurt Motor Show which goes on from 15 September to 25 September. In a letter to dealers and importers Knut Simonsson, Vice President Brand & Marketing at Saab, explains that at the moment Saab needs to use its resources on restarting the production, which of course is first priority.

Swedish Automobile issuing more shares to raise money

According to a press release from Saab, Swedish Automobile, which is the parent company of Saab, is issuing more share to raise money. The buyer of the shares is GEM Global Yield Fund Limited.

This time 4 million shares are being issued. With the stock price of today this will bring in around SEK 40 million.

"This will give us more money to cope with the short term problems," Gunilla Gustavs from Saab told Swedish Radio P4.

Taxes are being paid

With all the troubles recently with employee wages, I think many of us wondered if Saab would be able to make this month's  tax payment.

On Friday the local Trollhattan news paper TTELA reported that the taxes were in the process of being paid. This month the amount to be paid is only SEK 21 million, compared to SEK 65 million last month.

TTELA also writes that their sources tell them that Saab has had some troubles with Chinese partner Youngman, without going into detail what these troubles are. But the cooperation with Pang Da is said to be a good one.

To close off, TTELA has also spoken with Volvo PV which is hiring 1,000 new engineers and asked them if many Saab engineers have applied for a job:

"Sure, we have people from Saab applying. We are in the middle of the largest recruitment of engineers in the history of Volvo and have received a total of 2,500 applications for the 1,000 positions we offer. But I would still say that we haven't received unusually many applications from Saab employees. They seem really loyal to their company even in this situation," says Stefan Elfström, press officer at Volvo Cars.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A memory of summer

I posted this picture on the Saab Cars Facebook wall and I like it so much a want to share it with you too. 

 My Saab 9-5 at sommerstugan. Sommarstuga is the Swedish word for summer cottage.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Saab dealers on the verge of giving up on Saab

Just a week or two ago we got reports that one of the oldest and dearest Saab dealers in the US, New Salem Saab, were closing down after more than 50 years due to several year without profit during Saab's troubled years. Their last day of business was yesterday.

"The continual disruption of the Saab brand and its operational difficulties put us at a disadvantage," said Darryl Carl of New Salem Saab to The Business Review.

Now Swedish DI reports that several Swedish dealers are on the verge of giving up on Saab. Almost five months without production of new Saab cars have taken its toll.

"Several of them will within one or two weeks decide to stop their dealing of Saab and move to other brands. They have to consider their own business," says Peter Hallberg, CEO of the Saab dealer association to DI.

DI continues by saying that Victor Muller is pressed on time and is currently negotiating with several parties on new funding of close to SEK 1 billion.

On source tells DI that Saab needs new money next week, or else it's over and out.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Saab Ursus

Spotted on the Facebook wall of Saab Cars:

The creator, Gijs Scheepens, writes the following:

"What about this? I drawed it yesterday.
A Saab Ursus :)"

Maybe Gijs saw my comment on Inside Saab on Thursday under Swade's blog post about what to call the Saab 9-3 replacement. My idea was to leave the numbers behind and instead use alpha names. Ideally I would like it to be Swedish names, but as Swedish often use strange letters like ä, ö and å, I instead proposed the binomial name of animals in the Swedish fauna:

Saab Lynx (Saab 9-2)
Saab Vulpes (Saab 9-3)
Saab Gulo (Saab 9-4X)
Saab Lupus (Saab 9-5)
Saab Ursus (Saab 9-6X)
Saab Alces (Saab 9-7)
Saab Sonett (No need to change)

I especially like Saab Lynx, and Saab Ursus is also good, but there is already a Polish tractor called Ursus. I am very unsure about how the rest of the names sound like. I guess if I used more than five minutes I could have come up with better sounding names. :)

Debt enforcement agency to start looking for money in Saab next week

A couple of weeks ago we reported that Sweden's debt enforcement agency, Kronofogden, had examined 41 debt claims from Saab suppliers, of which eight companies wanted to proceed to the next level which is collection of the debt.

Now DI reports that the debt enforcement agency yesterday examined nine more claims, of which four have asked the enforment agency to proceed to the collection of the debt.

A total of 14 claims have proceeded to the collection stage so far.

But before the debt collection starts Saab has some time (three weeks?) to voluntary pay the debt. The first four claims are due on Tuesday next week. If they are not paid by that time, the enforcement agency can be asked by the four companies with claims to look into Saab's accounts and assets to look for money or other means of value. This kind of proceeding usually takes from one to three months.

On top of this, on Wednesday it was reported that one Spanish company, named Matrici S. Coop, and two German companies, all with big unpaid claims on Saab, are preparing for a bankruptcy filing of Saab.

But now the CEO of the Spanish company, Mr. Mikel Iraragorri, denies to Swedish TV4 News that they are filing for a bankruptcy in Saab.

There is no news about the two German companies. At the moment we don't even know who they are. But one can probably interpret the talks about bankruptcy filings as "threats" so that Saab will pay the debt or at least start a dialog with the suppliers.

And for the Spanish company it may have worked. The company is said to come to Sweden next week to meet with Saab.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

New day, new possibilities

A new day and I am sure more Saab news.

Yesterday actually turned out to be an encouraging day. First we got reports that COO of Saab Cars North America confirmed that Saab is in real and substantive talks with potential investors.

Then a little later we got news that Saab CEO Victor Muller and chief designer Jason Castriota currently are assessing five different design proposals for a new small Saab.

And then to round off the day the union representatives after meeting the Saab management said that Saab's future plans were credible and that the August wages seem to be secured.

Lots of positive news!

But there were also a report yesterday that hasn't been covered here yet. According to several media sources, one Spanish supplier named Matrici S. Coop and two German suppliers have made preparations to file for a bankruptcy in Saab due to unpaid bills. According to Reuters, the Spanish company claims that it's owed EUR 2 million, while the two German are owed more than EUR 5 million each. But Saab said that they will meet the Spanish company this week and hopefully come to an agreement. I assume the two German companies are next in line for a meeting.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Unions: Victor Muller's plans are credible

Today the four employee unions at Saab, IF Metall, Ledarna, Akademikerförbundet and Unionen, had a meeting with Saab's management which included CEO Victor Muller. To Swedish news agency TT the union representatives says that they are satisfied with the information they got and the plans Victor Muller presented for the future were credible.

"We are satisfied with what we were told. There is a plan for the future. As for the August wages, I feel reassured", said Anette Hellgren who is leader of Unionen, which is one of the unions at Saab.

According to Swedish Radio, Hellgren said that Saab already now has the money to pay the August wages. 

"The meeting was good and we got good information. Muller has many plans. What he presented felt credible", said Per Bränneby, who is leader of the union Akademikerförbundet.

Thomas Haglund from the union Ledarna told Swedish Radio that they got information about how close Saab is to find a solution to the crisis. 

"There are good things going on", Haglund said.

Saab 9-3 replacement to debut in the US first quarter 2013

Earlier today we got reports that COO of Saab Cars North America, Tim Colbeck, on the Motor Press Guild in Los Angeles yesterday said that Saab and Swedish Automobile were in "real and substantive" talks with potential investors. Now more from the presentation at the MPG has come out.

Automotive News reports that Colbeck could reveal that the next Saab 9-3 replacement will debut in the US in the first quarter of 2013. And the car might get a different model name than 9-3.

"There's a chance we might move away from that," Colbeck said and continued saying that Saab may adopt a name for the 9-3's successor that draws from the brand's heritage, although no decisions about the name have been made.

According to Automotive News Colbeck added that the next-generation 9-3 is scheduled to go on sale in the first quarter of 2013 and will be an "edgy" reinterpretation of design cues used by the automaker in the past. He declined to be more specific.

Colbeck also had some comments about a Saab 9-2, a new entry level car once the Chinese deals are approved and finalized:

"It wasn't in the business plan prior to the new investment, and now it is."

He adding that CEO Victor Muller and design chief Jason Castriota are reviewing about five designs for a small Saab.

But a Saab 9-2 will of course need a few years to be developed.

This autumn Saab will be on the market with the newly launched Saab 9-4X crossover, model-year 2012 to debut in October, the Saab 9-5 Sedan, the new Saab 9-5 SportCombi and the Saab 9-3, also likely to debut model-year 2012 in October.

Saab in "real and substantive" talks with potential investors

As reported on Monday, Chief Operating Officer of Saab Cars North America, Timothy Colbeck, spoke at the Motor Press Guild in Los Angeles yesterday. There, according to IBTimes, he told the audience that Saab's parent company, Swedish Automobile, is in "real and substantive" talks with potential investors.

"There are talks going on. Real and substantive talks." Tim Colbeck said, but he declined to name any investors.

From earlier reports in the media, we know that these investors could be US based and even based Brazil. According to local Trollhättan newspaper TTELA, Saab and Swedish Automobile are working on several parallel potentinal solutions on the short term funding needs.

"Yes, we have a lot in the making, but I can not comment on anything until it's finished", says Eric Geers, Saab's Executive Director of Communication, to TTELA.

When asked if the uncertainty in the world economy of lately makes investors less willing to take risk, Geers said: "I have no such information".