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.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The day thereafter

Yesterday was a big day in the history of Saab. For the third time in the history of Saab and the second time the last two years Saab is going to change hands. 42 years Swedish owned, 10-11 years part Swedish and part American owned, 10 years American owned and finally approx. 2 years Dutch owned. Only time will tell how many years the Chinese will hang on to Saab.

Victor Muller yesterday said that he hopes to stay at Saab. Today he tells Dagens Industri (DI) that he wants to contribute in the future.

"I would think that I can contribute a lot to the strategy and design of future models," Victor Muller tells DI.

"But this has to be discussed with the new shareholders. They have expressed a wish that I stay on board in a leading role, but it is to early to say what that will be. I have a lot to contribute to the companies future strategy. They are eager to make use of my services."

What is certain is that Victor Muller will resign as CEO. In fact he doesn't want to stay CEO. We can call him a reluctant CEO the last seven months. One name that has been mentioned earlier as possible new CEO, is Martin Larsson.

Martin Larsson (picture) has held the position Executive Director New Business Development and has therefore been in close contact with the new Chinese owners for months. Visiting China and the Youngman and Pang Da management several times negotiating and getting to know them both as professionals and persons. And earlier we have read that "The Chinese love him".

"My job has been to speak for Saab," Martin Larsson tells DI.

Question is if his job soon will be to speak for Saab also to the public.

When TTELA asked him if it was probable that he could become the next CEO, Larsson said: "I can't comment on that now."

Larsson was more interested in talking about the deal to sell Saab and the new owners.

"It is good that the company now is saved and I know that the new owners are humbled by the task before them," Larsson said to TTELA.

In Trollhättan Saab employees are happy and feeling optimism for the future. But also Sweden's biggest Saab dealer ANA Trollhättan looks at the future with new optimism.

"This announcement feels good - both emotionally and commercially. I am happy that Saab will live on and this feels like a serious and credible solution for Saab," CEO of ANA Trollhättan  Joachim Lind told DI.

Joachim Lind (picture) has also been both head of marketing and head of sales at Saab Sweden, so he known a thing or two about selling Saab cars.

"The brand has taken a beating. But over time it can be fixed if Saab starts to deliver what it promises. And the company also needs to produce products that can compete."

And Lind believes that Saab will stay in Sweden.

"If the Chinese want to sell Saab all over the world they need a credible history. Then they need  production in Trollhättan. But in the long run you never know what will happen."

About the last point - production in Sweden - I would like to add the following. As long as all tools and equipment are used as collateral for the EIB loans, these tools and equipment can not be moved to China. So as long as the EIB loan with a Swedish government guarantee is part of Saab's funding, production will stay in Sweden.