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, December 31, 2011

Happy new Saab year!

Happy new Saab year to all of you from Life with Saab!

To end this year and start the next one, I would like to share some very compassionate words from Joanna who is 14 years old and lives in Helsingborg Sweden. When the newspaper Helsingborgs Dagblad asked her what she would do if she had an unlimited amount of money, she answered this:

"I would buy Saab. So that the people who work there would not lose their jobs. I would of course have my own designed Saab that everyone looks at when I drive down the street. And I would never have to ponder on what to get to loved ones as Christmas presents. I would just let them choose their own new Saab. Who would not like such a gift?"

For me those words are a perfect ending to this year and a perfect start on next year!

Turkish Brightwell Holdings wants to build cars in Trollhättan

Yesterday Swedish TV4 Väst could reveal that the Turkish company which is interested in acquiring Saab or parts of Saab is a global investment firm called Brightwell Holdings.

To TV4 the Chairman of the board at Brightwell, Zamier Ahmed, confirmed that the company is interested in Saab.

"For six months we have shown a serious interest in Saab," said Zamier Ahmed to TV4.

The company was previously in contact with both Saab's CEO Victor Muller and the reconstruction administrator Guy Lofalk, but when Saab filed for bankruptcy contact has been established with the court appointed administrators of the bankruptcy.

"Before the Christmas holidays, we also have by letter made ​​it clear to the administrators that we are interested and we hope for a meeting early next year," Ahmed continued.

The company is said to be most interested in Saab's technology, but according to Ahmed, they want to keep some production in Trollhättan, while parts will probably be moved to Turkey.

So now we have reports that Chinese companies Youngman and Dongfeng, Indian Mahindra & Mahindra and Turkish Brightwell Holdings are all interested in Saab. In addition, also Canadian Magna International has been mentioned. But this has not been confirmed.

Today Trollhättan newspaper TTELA published an interview with the court appointed administrators of the bankruptcy. And the administrators can tell that their main goal is to find one buyer that will buy Saab as a whole.

"We are working for the business to be taken over by one stakeholder which are able to launch the existing models. But there are structures and partnerships with conditions that can affect the probability of success. This is no easy matter," said administrator Hans L Bergqvist to TTELA.

The administrators have also been made familiar with Saab's upcoming 9-3 replacement and future technology, and they are impressed.

"We have been made familiar with the upcoming model program and have seen the new 9-3 model and the new technology. And we now certainly understand in a completely different way why Victor Muller is so committed and continues to work to find a solution. What we have seen has really made an impression on us," the second administrator Anne-Marie Pouteaux told TTELA.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Mahindra & Mahindra of India interested in Saab

Yesterday we got reports that an Indian company had shown interest in Saab. Speculations have been going high and today Bloomberg reveals that the company is India's largest SUV manufacturer Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.

Bloomberg refers to two sources familiar with the situation when naming Mahindra. But the company itself would not confirm the interest.

Mahindra spokeswoman, Roma Balwani, declined to make a comment to Bloomberg, while CFO Bharat Doshi said that he was in a meeting and wasn't available to talk.

Pawan Goenka, president automotive of Mahindra & Mahindra , told The Telegraph India, "I would not like to comment on these reports."

According to Bloomberg's sources, Mahindra has so far not held discussions with the court appointed administrators of the Saab bankruptcy, but is in the process of making an appointment.

One of Bloomberg's sources also confirmed that at least one Turkish company is interested in Saab.

So now we have more or less confirmed interest from China, Turkey and India, which all are countries with ambitions to become big players on the global automotive market.

Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd, which is part of the Mahindra Group, has 119,900 employees and is involved in many different industries like automotive, components, defense, energy, farm equipment and aerospace. This is a huge company!

Design of Saab 9-3 replacement more or less finished

When Saab on December 19th filed for bankruptcy, the design of the Saab 9-3 replacement was more or less finished. To TTELA head of Saab design, Jason Castriota, says that they were working on the finishing touches when the bankruptcy happened.

Here's a translation of the interview Castriota did with TTELA:

"It's frustrating not being able to see the new car"

They were putting the finishing touches on the new 9-3 model's design when the bankruptcy happened.

"It's so frustrating to think that it's not going to be out on the roads, I know how competitive it is. But I have not given up yet," says Saab chief designer Jason Castriota.

TTELA reaches Jason Castriota at home in New York where he is celebrating Christmas with his family. He says that they were doing the very last details on the 9-3 when the bankruptcy became a fact.

"We were working hard to get it ready in view of the vulnerable situation Saab was in."

He describes how the work on the 9-3 was in the final stages.

"We would soon put prototypes of the model out on the roads to really test the car. To think that this car would not be built is impossible for me, I know what car this would be. I have worked for major automotive companies and know the 9-3's qualities. It is incredibly frustrating if this car will not be built when at the same time I know that less competitive cars are being sold and are out on the roads. The car is also very competitive in terms of size."

More models

He also tells how they were about to go on to develop more models on the Phoenix platform.

"The work to look at the bandwidth and the size of future models on Phoenix had begun. We have had this kind of cooperation. The spirit during the development has been fantastic and even the collaboration with Mats Fägerhag, Kjell ac Bergström and all teams involved."

There are many indications for continuation

Jason Castriota says that there are many indications of a continuation, after all.

"The Saab brand is so strong and this model is so valuable that I can not imagine that there wouldn't be a continuation. We worked for 20 months on this project. If it would not be built under the Saab name, one must hope that at least it will be under a different name. I really hope the administrators can take advantage of the values here. And that the facilities and personnel in Trollhättan remain involved in car production. When I went to Trollhättan the town's ability to innovate really hit me, although it is not such a big place."

He does not know what will happen now.

"We went on Christmas holiday right after what happened last week and have not seen each other since. I've only had contact with Victor Muller on text messages, he is busy in his own way right now. We'll see, but as I've said I hope for a continuation."

Hopes of "some continued activity" at the Trollhättan factory

In a press release of today, the Saab bankruptcy administrators express hope of continued activity at the Saab Trollhättan manufacturing plant.

Since December 19th the two bankruptcy administrators have met a number of Swedish and international interested parties, which have shown interest in acquiring the whole group of Saab companies or parts of it.

Here's the most interesting part of the press release:

Over the past eleven days, the bankruptcy administration also has met a number of Swedish and foreign stakeholders who have expressed an interest in a possible acquisition of the business or parts thereof. The contacts made ​​so far have been positive and gives real hope that there may be alternatives, and even combinations of solutions that could result in some continued activity and a proper settlement of the bankruptcy estates. In the current situation we can not give a timeframe for when a more concrete option can be presented or when a settlement can be made."

Earlier today Swedish news agency TT reported that General Motors is willing to listen to proposals should there be any interested parties which would like to continue building Saab cars on GM licenses.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sweden hopes for buyer of all of Saab

Updated with info from Swedish radio regarding Indian interest

The new year and normal working hours are approaching fast. Just before Christmas Saab filed for bankruptcy and during the last week before Christmas and the past week, we have read some reports about different companies being interested in the assets in the Saab bankruptcy estate. So far the details about these companies and their approach have been sparse. But we can expect the news reporting from Sweden to pick up speed on Monday next week.

 The first interested party we heard about was Chinese Youngman, which has shown interest in the Saab technology and maybe even restarting limited production at Saab in Trollhättan. Next was the word that Turkeys companies were interested in the Saab assets. We also got a short report that Canadian auto supply giant Magna International was interested. During the Christmas Chinese Dongfeng joined the party. Today local Trollhättan newspaper TTELA reports that a large vehicle group has shown interest. At the moment no name has been confirmed.

This evening Swedish Radio P4 reveals that also one of the biggest vehicle manufacturers in India has contacted the bankruptcy administrators to make an appointment for a meeting with the administrators on Thursday January 5th. The Indian company is interested in the Saab technology and might also be interested in continued production in Trollhättan. But now the meeting has been canceled by the administrators, reason being that the Indian company is represented by Lars Carlström in Sweden. Lars Carlström was earlier known as the Russian banker Vladimir Antonov's man in Sweden. Antonov and his bank empire in Lithuania has this autumn been under the suspicions of fraud. I would say that the behavior of the administrators is fairly odd given the circumstances. But I guess if the Indian company is seriously interested in acquiring Saab, then the Indian company and the administrators will find a way of communicating without the help of Carlström?

So we have a lot of interested parties. Some are probably just curious, others are just interested in getting high end technology cheap and other may be interested in taking over the whole group of Saab companies. Sweden's National Debt Office (NDO), which has guaranteed Saab's loan in the European Investment Bank on behalf of Sweden, hopes for the latter. According to TTELA, the NDO has told the bankruptcy administrators that the NDO will at the time being not claim the collateral it has in Saab's part company, Saab Automobile Parts AB, or the other Saab companies. Reason being that the NDO is willing to give the administrators the chance to sell the whole group of Saab companies should a willing buyer emerge.

So that's the status at the moment. Lot's of interested parties, and Sweden hoping to see Saab sold as a whole to one buyer.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Internet page regarding the Saab bankruptcy estate

The administrators of the Saab bankruptcy has set up an Internet page on information and documentation regarding the bankruptcy. This Internet page can be viewed at:

Turks expected in Trollhättan shortly

A party from Turkey is expected in Trollhättan shortly to look over the Saab assets. This according to Dagens Industri.

In Trollhättan the Turkish delegation will meet bankruptcy administrator Ann-Marie Pouteaux and Saab's former CEO Victor Muller. It is unclear if the Turk are interested in restarting Saab production in Trollhättan or just are after the assets of Saab.

Already in Sweden is the Chinese company Youngman, which is working intensely to assess the different parts of the bankruptcy estate so that the company can eventually make an offer to the bankruptcy administrators.

"At the moment we are working intensively to evaluate the status of the bankruptcy estate and how Youngman should formulate a response to the bankruptcy administrators. That's all I can say at the moment," lawyer and spokesman of Youngman John Nylén said to Swedish Radio.

Earlier we have also gotten reports that Chinese automaker Dongfeng Motor Group and Canadian auto supplier Magna International are interested in the estate. But no more information has come concerning these two parties.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Dongfeng eyeing Saab's assets

On Monday Saab Automobile filed for bankruptcy. Since then Chinese Youngman Automobile Group has confirmed that its interested in buying as much as possible of Saab's assets. There has also been reports that Turkish companies may interested, as well as Canadian Magna. And now even Chinese Dongfeng has been named as an interested party.

Dongfeng Motor Group, which is China's third-largest automaker, is now said to be interested in buying the assets of Saab. This according to China Economic Net. China Economic Net writes that Dongfeng will get competition from a Turkish enterprise for the Saab assets.

My opinion is that I would rather not see Dongfeng or any Turkish company get any Saab assets. My hope is Youngman or Magna and continued life for Saab as a Swedish company, though I realize that is hoping for a lot.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas. May we get ALL we hope for this Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Heroes of Saab: Anna Petre - among the last four

Earlier today I started what I hope to be a series of posts about the heroes of Saab. I never thought that the next chapter would come just a few hours later. But here it is, chapter two.

Anna Petre is a recent hero of Saab. She actually was working to save Saab until the very end. And this is her story. We also get some insight into the last months and the deal. And those of you who are angry at court administrator Lofalk, it could very well be justified.

Here's an interview with Anna Petre by Anna-Karin Nils Gustafsson from today's TTELA (translated by me):

Anna Petre - among the last four

She was one of the four people who attended the Saab talks up until the end: Anna Petre, the lawyer who became Victor Muller's sounding board. Now she sees the end of a destructive autumn - but without relief:

"I can not understand that Saab will not exist."

She had not even done any driving practice on the Saab parking lot like "everybody does", and her plan was to follow in her Dad's footsteps. Anna Petre were to become a criminal court lawyer, but when she was offered an interview at Saab after she had gotten her law degree, she left the Stallbacka factory with the feeling that the people were actually very charming and the atmosphere was very good.

Never regretted
This is now 13 years ago and Petre calls it a life choice she has never regretted a second. In the beginning she devoted herself mainly to monitoring the legal requirement on various markets, which at that time could mean that you kept track of 40 to 50 markets, which all had different rules.

"It included responsibility for the product, because the cars were adapted to the countries they would be sold in," says Petre, who moved on from working at technical to the department of public policy, a "small island inside GM" where amongst other things they were engaged in monitoring social trends for inclusion in the company's product strategy and develop the company's position on various key issues.

Rarely an "easy ride"
Anna Petre's manager sat in Brussels and was the boss of several of her counterparts in various countries under the direction of GM. Saab during the GM era was rarely described as an "easy ride".

"There were different views on the role of Saab and the Saab brand within the huge GM. It felt like accelerating, braking, accelerating, braking," she says.

"Certainly we made substantial investments, like one billion on a paint shop which from an environmental viewpoint was super modern. But you never got a straight answer from GM. Should you invest or not?"

During 2004-2005 there was a raging battle between Trollhättan and Rüsselsheim to get the manufacturing of new GM cars. Anna Petre was involved in negotiating the Trollhätten package with the former Social democrat government. The result can be seen today in the expansion of the E45 highway.

Saw first serious signs
In February 2010, GM finally sold Saab to Spyker Cars. Already in November of that year the Saab management saw the first serious signs of the crisis which would plague Saab Automobile. Jan-Åke Jonsson, which Petre came to work very closely with, was then CEO of the company. Already then it was discovered that the company would run into difficulty in making payments in the first quarter of 2011 if no action was taken.

"We had several leads that we worked on, including Antonov, and Martin Larsson's work with the Chinese parties intensified. But some leads fell, others dragged on."

China lead collapsed
"All the time everything took much longer than planned. The property sales to Hemfosa for example, and the production had already stopped. And the longer it did, the cheaper it was of course for them [Hemfosa]. The first Chinese lead collapsed and the agreement with Hawtai got scrapped, the decision on Antonov dragged on, in parallel with a chase for payroll money. Everything that could go wrong did," Petre summarizes the last months.

"In the end you really felt like you were just waiting for the next disaster."

Petre has during the year received several job offers. But the thought of leaving Saab has never existed.

"You never get to experience this again, that's just how it is. And I would do anything for Saab to survive."

A lot of effort
The same team from TTELA that just before Christmas meets Petre in her home in Trollhättan, met her with Victor Muller in Stockholm at the beginning of the month. Then during the taping of Skavlan [talkshow on TV] where Saab's CEO was one of the guests. A taping which was a short break in one of the thousands of hours of negotiation that took place during the year. Often around the clock as both the U.S. and China was involved.

"We spent the whole summer making the agreements with Youngman and Pang Da," says Petre.

"I remember one Saturday when I left home at 06:30, picked up Martin in Vänersborg and went to Stockholm. There the negotiations lasted until 02:30, and I think that the clock was 07:00 when I drove up here into the parking lot again. I turned 40 that day, and were supposed to have an open house. 75 people came, and fortunately I have a kind mother who had time to shop for me," says Petre.

Victor's sounding board
Up until the end, she was in the small group who worked on the negotiations with Youngman.

"Me and Victor have always gotten along well and this year I became some kind of informal sounding board for him. We still have contact, absolutely, and I hope I get the opportunity to work with Victor again sometime in the future."

Petre describes Muller as an emotional man, often wearing jeans and a hoodie, and who instantly fell asleep in the airplane seat on all journeys. A manager who tried to take advantage of every opportunity.

"If the chance was just five percent, he would still want to test it, and often succeeded," says Petre.

How close were you to a solution?

"The so-called July deal was made in accordance with GM. It was basically just the NDRC's approval which was missing. But then the reconstruction started and Lofalk entered the scene. The signed agreement was ignored and various other business proposals emerged. There were many reasons why the relationship with GM was damaged."

It's only a few days since Saab's CEO filed for bankruptcy. How much have you worked in the past year?

"I have not physically been at work all the time, but I have "been on" constantly. My son Ludvig was on the radio and talked about his mother who works at Saab. "She's e-mailing and talking on the phone" all the time. Shit, I thought when I heard him. That's what I do."

"Politics is politics"
Anna Petre continues:
"Discussions with the Government, the region, the municipality - in the end typically seven updates every day. Things happening every single hour. I have been a chatterbox all year."

At the Ministry of Enterprise, there has been a will to support Saab, according to Petra.

"From the civil servants. There is a genuine interest and understanding of the automotive industry. But politics is politics."

How does it feel now?

"I never thought I would appreciate Saab like this, that's what's so difficult. The products... The incredibly positive engineers. When I started talking about an alcohol lock for example, and everyone just thinks it's amusing. At Saab you have the opportunity to influence. And now I'm not going to work with them anymore. It just hasn't sunk in."

"But," Petre says "We never gave up. That's something I can say about this period."

Heroes of Saab: Per Gillbrand - The turbo genius

Here is the first of what I hope will be a series of posts about the heroes of Saab. Both historic and present heroes.

First off is Per "Pelle" Gillbrand. Pelle Gillbrand is one of Sweden's most talented engine designers and was involved in the development of Saab's turbo engine.

The following interview was written by Håkan Matson and first published by DI Nya Bilar. I have done the translation. Enjoy!

Visiting the turbo genius

Pelle Gillbrand was one of the main people behind the Saab turbo engines and was in time given the nick name "turbo genius." But when he retired, he went down into his basement and started building models of historic engines, ranging from the first car engine and aircraft engine to the Bugatti V16 engine that’s used in the Veyron. It has turned out to be a unique collection of 23 engines - and they all run.

The face kind of sparkles. His eyes light up, the smile grows stronger, he stands in a kind of starting position and can sense the thin finishing line.

Pelle Gillbrand is about to start his latest construction, Bugatti’s engine from 1929, which was in the Type 35B. Then he pulls. The engine starts pleasurably and the sound of the eight cylinders fills the basement, in competition with methanol exhaust which pours from the engine. Through the mist he shouts:

"It sounds just like the original engine!"

The Bugatti engine is his latest construction, but definitely not his last. The next project is already decided:

"Rudolf Diesel's original single-cylinder engine, located at MAN. Though it looks more like a steam engine than an internal combustion engine."

When we say that Pelle Gillbrand manufacture model engines, we mean that he actually produces them. Using a hack saw, a milling machine, turning lathe and other tools, he makes everything from the raw materials.

"The only thing I buy ready made is gears. They come from Kuggteknik in Leksand."

The craftsmanship is obviously time consuming. Pelle Gillbrand says it takes a year to build an engine and an additional year to make it run.

"To make it run is the most enjoyable - and it takes a lot of time to get the sound right. But I’m having so much fun that time does not exist."

After some persuasion, he allows us to visit the basement. Like a prompter his wife Inga Gillbrand mouths silently and lovingly:

"He's always down there. He will soon have to calm down. But on the other side it is good that he has something that occupies him."

He was born 77 years ago in Tidaholm and when he was four years old his father taught him the difference between a two-stroke engine and a four-stroke engine. He grew up, built his own boat with an outboard motor, continued to Volvo in Skövde and worked with most of the B engines, both as a test engineer and developer.

In 1964 he received a call from Saab's technical director Rolf Mellde who offered him a job which paid SEK 1,900 a month. It was way above what Volvo wanted to pay, and Pelle Gillbrand’s managers willingly thought he could move to Trollhättan. He began working on the Ricardo engine and was later responsible for installing the Ford V4 engine in Saab’s different models.

In 1970 the position was relocated to Södertälje, where all engine development was done in the joint Saab-Scania-lab. Technology which Saab was the first and the only one to use at the time – like one coil per cylinder – are available in most cars today.

Pelle Gillbrand retired in 2001, after among other things having developed a variable compression engine which GM showcased at various auto shows, but then quickly buried. Today he has very little contact with his former employer and would rather not comment on the crisis in the company.

His model building is not just a technical hobby. There is also a political message.

"I started when the former Environment Minister Birgitta Dahl ruled out cars. I want to show that the piston engine we are using is not the result of an accident, but the result of 200 years of development. The piston engine is still the best compromise. In a competitive world you will die if you do not use the best technology. A good example is how the jet engine won over the piston engine in aviation."

But he does not believe that electric cars can knock out cars with piston engines:

"Before that happens something unexpected needs to occur. The batteries are too expensive and poor, the charge time too long and the supply of clean electricity limited. One kilogram of gasoline contains 12 kWh of energy, a one kilogram battery only 0.15 kWh. But when the gasoline has been consumed it weighs zero, while the battery still weighs one kilogram - but it's empty."

He is however critical to driving in cities.

"We have to ask ourselves if we should use cars at all in some environments. We should of course use what is best - and sometimes the metro and tram are by far the best option, while the car is the best option in other environments. We can not build tracks everywhere. "

His historical interest goes back to the beginning of the 1700s.

"Before that people had to work half of the day and rest the other half. But when Thomas Newcomen made the steam engine in 1717, suddenly machines could do the work for us. And just ten years later, in 1728, Mårten Triewald built a similar steam engine at the Dannemora mine - the house is still there."

A picture of the house is on the wall at home in the villa in Mariefred, where the family Gillbrand has lived since 1984.

The first model engine Pelle Gillbrand built was a steam engine. It was in 1967, when he and others at Saab were in Poland testing engines for the first 99-model, and it was a way to forget the boredom of living in a hotel.

The engine Gillbrand is most fascinated by was invented by James Atkinson in 1882. Without getting too technical, it completes four piston strokes per revolution of the crankshaft, which makes it much more efficient than conventional engines.

"It was so ahead of its time. Today almost all full hybrids, including the Toyota Prius, have gasoline engine built after the Atkinson cycle. "

The collection also includes the first car engine from Benz in 1886, and some Stirling engines, including one that was developed by inventor John Ericsson and sold in more than 15,000 copies, plus the two-cylinder engine that was in Sweden's first car from 1897. The man that made the engine was Gustaf Eriksson.

Pelle Gillbrand has also built the world's first aircraft engine from the Wright brothers Flyer 1. The original was made by Charles Taylor, who got 60 days to make the engine. The engine, which could not weigh more than 60 kilogram, was at 22 hp and worked for 80 seconds - and then never again.

"My model works better than the Wright Brothers’ original," chuckles Pelle Gillbrand, who received the drawings from the Smithsonian in Washington.

More aircraft engines: The Brayton engine, developed by American George Brayton and patented in 1872, was the embryo of the jet engine.

"But he never realized it himself."

He has built the Bugatti engine, which we talked about in the beginning, as a historical monument, the end of the big engines - in this case 16 cylinders.

"Now everybody is bragging about how small engines they can make."

Pelle Gillbrand travels the world with his 23 engines and his message about the piston engine as the best compromise. He lectures at universities, colleges and to other motorsports enthusiasts.

For how long will you continue?
"I have bookings for as long as I have the energy. I might get tired of the travelling, but as long as I have a wife who calls for me when it's time for food, I will continue in the basement. "

Pelle says quickly:
"I promise not to marry again!"

Engines are undeniably Pelle Gillbrand’s life.

Pelle Gillbrand
Age: 77 years
Family: Wife Inga (for 49 years), children Peter (47), Ebba (43).
Location: House in Mariefred.
Background: Test engineer and developer at Volvo (1957-1964), engine developer at Saab in Trollhättan (1964-1970), head of Saab's engine laboratory in Södertälje (1970-1996), technical advisor to Saab (1996-2001).
Hobby: To build engines. Has built 23 models of historic engines.

Pelle Gillbrand starts his Bugatti W16 miniature.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Youngman says Saab talks in a "delicate stage"

After Saab Automobile filed for bankruptcy on Monday, several parties have shown interest in obtaining the bankruptcy estate. So far it seems that Chinese Youngman has come the farthest in the talks.

This evening lawyer John Nylén, who is a Swedish spokesman for Youngman, said that the talks are in a critical stage.

"Right now the talks are in such a critical stage that Youngman has instructed me clearly that they do not want to leave any comments at this time," said Johan Nylén to Swedish Radio.

Reports earlier this week has said that Youngman invested around SEK 500 million in Saab before the company went bankrupt. Yesterday the management of Youngman came to Sweden to try to secure their investment.

It is assumed that Youngman is first and foremost interested in the Saab Phoenix technology which were supposed to underpin the next generation of Saab vehicles. But time is an issue. In order for the technology to keep its value, Youngman also needs to keep the key employees at Saab. But it is expected that the employees will get a letter of resignation early next year, and many of them have of course also already started looking for new employment.

But so far the Chinese have not been discouraged from trying to reach an agreement to buy the whole estate or parts of the estate.

"Rachel Pang will stay in Sweden as long as needed," Johan Nylén said.

Availability of Saab parts and service following the bankruptcy

Also read the update on the spare parts situation.

Are you one of the roughly 1.5 million people in the world with a Saab car? And now maybe you worry about what will happen when your car needs service or parts? Then read on.

On Monday Saab filed for bankruptcy. This filing included the following companies:

Saab Automobile AB
Saab Automobile Tools AB
Saab Automobile Powertrain AB

The bankruptcy filing did not include Saab Automobile Parts AB (Saab Parts).

Genuine Saab parts
Saab Parts, which is based in Nyköping Sweden, is the company responsible for and with the rights to sell genuine Saab spare parts to distributors all over the world. This means everything from a new door, hood, engine, wheel hub, brake rotors to the tiniest parts like a screw, a bolt and a nut. Saab Parts owns its own infrastructure and equipment including IT and logistics system and has contracts with the suppliers of spare parts as well as with customers/distributors all over the world. Saab Parts IS NOT bankrupt.

Saab officials say that spare parts will be no problem in the future. But why is that? The answer is simple. Saab Parts is actually a very profitable company. In 2010 (a year when Saab sold almost no new cars) the company had a turnover of SEK 1,697 million, made a profit (after tax) of SEK 391 million and the operating margin was 33.6 percent (average for Swedish companies was 11.6 percent).

Even though Saab Automobile is bankrupt, there is about 1.5 million Saab cars out there and for at least the next 10 years there will be plenty of money to be made by Saab Parts. And there are of course companies and investors out there who would love to own a company that has an operating margin of 33.6 percent!

Some of you may think that this can't be true, because you have already experienced trouble getting parts to your Saab the latest six months or so. Yes, it is true that there has been trouble getting some parts the latest months. The reason is simply that the subcontractors which make these parts for Saab Parts, have not been willing to supply Saab Parts since Saab Parts is a subsidiary of Saab Automobile and Saab Automobile had millions of Swedish crowns in unpaid bills to these companies.

But now the situation has changed. Saab Automobile filed for bankruptcy on Monday and the management and owners of Saab then lost all control over Saab Parts. Saab Parts is now controlled by the bankruptcy administrators and might eventually be controlled by the state of Sweden. (Reason being that Sweden has guaranteed Saab Automobile's loans in the European Investment Bank and the collateral for the loan was the shares in Saab Parts.) This means that the subcontractors can once again start supplying Saab Parts with parts because now they know that they will get paid and the company which owed them money (Saab Automobile) will not make any profit from selling the parts to their customers.

That's the simple explanation. Now over to the more complex assessment of the different Saab car models.

First of all, if you own a Saab 9-3 you have no reason to worry. The 1998 - 2003 Saab 9-3 and the 2003 - 2011 Saab 9-3 have been produced in hundreds of thousands and there is a huge market for both the Saab Parts company and any non OEM parts manufacturers and sellers. In addition, there are thousands of cars being scrapped each year which should make it possible to get cheap second hand parts as well.

The same goes for anyone owning a 1997 - 2009 Saab 9-5 (the old 9-5). Hundreds of thousands of cars and no problem.

If you own an even earlier Saab, like the 900 og 9000, nothing has changed for you with the bankruptcy. These cars have been out of production for over a decade. Service and wearing parts will be produced as long as there is money to be made for the manufacturers and body parts etc were produced by Saab for stock several years ago.

But what about the new 2010-2011 Saab 9-5? Of this model there were only produced approx. 10,000 cars, which does of course make the market smaller and make it more difficult to make money for both Saab Parts and OEM parts manufacturers. Thankfully these cars share a lot of service and wearing parts like oil filters, belts, wheel hubs, brake rotors, brake pads and even engine parts with other vehicles produced on the GM Epsilon II architecture. So these kinds of parts should be no problem. What could be a problem is the Saab specific parts like hood, head lights, fenders, interior parts etc.

As far as I can see, the two big questions for the new Saab 9-5 are these two:

First, does Saab Parts see a market and the chance of making money on a complete stock of Saab 9-5 spare parts?

Secondly, will Saab Parts stock these parts regardsless of profitability in order to be a complete supplier to all Saab car models?

I believe that if the Swedish state with the National Debt Office (which more or less now owns the company) decided that it will run Saab Parts, the chance of the company taking a moral responsibility to supply all Saab car models will be bigger than if a private investor or company takes over Saab Parts. But any company could profit from being known as the one and only complete supplier of Saab parts.

The last Saab car on the list is the 9-4X. And this car has been manufactured in a very small number (around 500?). The situation is quite similar to the new 9-5 as the 9-4X shares a lot of parts with the Cadillac SRX. But what about the Saab specific parts for this car? I have no answer. Let's hope Saab Parts takes the moral responsibility to also supply these parts.

Let's end the talk about spare parts with an encouraging comment from Unni Jerndal, who is responsible for communication at Sweden's National Debt Office (which now more or less owns Saab Parts):

"The plan is that the operations of the company will continue, and it is important for us to make it clear that there will be spare parts for Saab cars also in the future."

So then I guess that the National Debt Office and the Swedish state will see to it that the future owners of Saab Parts guarantees that all recent Saab models will have spare parts for many years to come.

Saab Automobile Parts AB in Flättnaleden, Nyköping

So what about service and repairs?
There are hundreds of Saab dealers in the world. And these dealers have several technicians and mechanics familiar with the Saab cars. Hundreds of these have been trained by Saab to be experts on the different Saab car models. These technicians and mecahnics will not disappear. And your local Saab dealer will probably not disappear either. It will probably change name and maybe start with another brand, but the dealer and the mechanics will still be there. And they still have the Saab specific tools too. In addition, most of the services and repairs can also be done by any work shop. Repairing a Saab is not magic.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Turkish minister says Saab not a profitable option

Updated with new information from Dagens Industri regarding embassy meeting

Yesterday we got the news that there had been interest for the Saab Automobile bankruptcy estate from Turkey. Now Turkey's Minister of Science, Technology and Industry warns that Saab "may not be a profitable option".

 Science, Technology and Industry Minister Nihat Ergün spoke to representatives of Turkish elevator dealer firms and industrialists today and afterwards answered reporters questions about Turkish companies ambitions to buy a foreign car brand.

Accoring to Today's Zaman, the minister said that the Turkish private sector should consider acquiring a foreign auto brand as part of efforts to create the first local car brand, but said that Saab "may not be a profitable option".

Ergün said the Turkish government had no plans to acquire Saab and added that companies that are interested in this purchase "should make a good profit and loss analysis before taking such a step".

"Acquiring a foreign car brand for technology and know-how transfer to Turkey will be a strategic maneuver, but we should choose the option that will bring the best benefits to us," Ergün said.

This evening Dagens Industri writes that it was in fact Victor Muller which contacted the Turkish embassy a few days before the bankruptcy filing and not the other way around as reported in swedish media. This according to Turkey's ambassador to Sweden.

"Last week, Saab's CEO and Chairman Victor Muller contacted the embassy and said that he wanted to come and see me. I accepted the invitation, he came and we had a meeting on December 14th at 9:00 at the Embassy. He brought with him Saab's legal advisors," said ambassador Zergün Korutürk to

"He explained to me how it would be beneficial for Turkey if cars were manufactured with Saab's technology in Turkey. I took notes and told him that I would report it to the [Turkish] authorities and that was all," Korutürk said.

"I guess he was trying to save the company," she continued.

Dagens Industri has been in contact with Victor Muller regarding the embassy meeting.

"Youngman was fully informed and supported me in my efforts to get an opening against the Turks, because they would not compete at all. On the contrary, both parties would benefit if the Phoenix platform would be divided between Saab and a Turkish manufacturer in order to build a Turkish car," Muller said to DI.

"The intention was to find extra backers who had an interest in Saab's Phoenix technology. We found these parties, but we ran out of time as you know."

Victor Muller would not comment on who these parties were, but he did confirm that it is the same parties that has shown interest in the bankruptcy estate.

Canadian Magna shows interest, as Youngman arrives in Sweden

Today the management of Youngman arrives in Sweden. The goal is to open discussions with the bankruptcy administrator on buying as much as possible of Saab.

"We have no reason to wait and will make an offer as soon as we can. But it is important to clarify the relationship to General Motors," spokesman for Youngman Johan Nylén told DI.

At the same time it is reported that Canadian Magna International has shown interest. Magna is the huge company (104,000 employees) which was in the last stages of acquiring Opel from GM back in 2009, when GM changed its mind. Magna is one of the world's biggest suppliers in the automotive industry. It did also for several years built the Saab 9-3 Convertible for Saab at its Magna Steyr subsidiary in Austria. Magna has earlier stated that it aimed to develop from its current role as a parts supplier to an expanded role as a global automaker that ranks "amongst the leaders in selling and building electric cars."

But for whoever wants to buy Saab including the technology development department time is of essence like never before. Earlier today TTELA reported that all employees of Saab has gotten a letter of resignation and now key people are of course looking for new jobs. The arrival of such a letter was later dismissed by the unions. But nonetheless, the employees will be let go very soon.

It is a dream scenario if Magna is interested in buying Saab and run the company with manufacturing and development in Trollhättan!

Fancy a Saab 9-3 with a Fiat engine?

Would you fancy a good old Saab 9-3 with a Fiat engine? If Youngman gets to buy the bankruptcy estate from Saab and restarts production of the current 9-3 in Trollhättan awaiting the arrivial of the next generation Saab vehicles, that can be the case.

From earlier we know that Saab has rights to most of the technology in the current Saab 9-3. Only parts of this technology is owned by GM. I assume that e.g. the engines, and especially the new direct injection petrol engine, is GM unique technology and thus technology GM wants to protect. But now news reports say that Youngman wants to source engines from Italy instead. And who else than Fiat could be the supplier? VM Motori? I think Fiat and the reason is as follows.

The diesel engine used in the Saab 9-3 was originally developed by Fiat-GM-Powertrain before the two companies decided to end the partnership. Fiat uses the same engine in both Fiat cars and Alfa Romeo cars. Maybe even in Lancia? Anyway, since this engine is more or less similar to the diesel engine Saab has sourced from GM, a engine swop should be doable.

I am not sure if a swop is just as simple when it comes down to petrol engines. The engine mounts should be more or less the same, but the engines are very different I guess. But nothing is impossible, right?

So if everything goes well, we might be driving Italian powered Saabs the next two years or so!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Who killed Saab Automobile? A report from Cambridge and Edinburgh University

Matthias Holweg from Judge Business School, University of Cambridge and Nick Oliver University of Edinburgh Business School have today published a report named "Who killed Saab Automobile?"

I haven't read it yet. I might be saving this one for Christmas. Below is the executive summary and here is the link to the full report.

PS: My own claim that Saab died three years ago can be read here.

Thank you to all the employees of Saab!

In between the news which I am sure there will be plenty of the coming days, I just want to express my gratitude to Saab.

On the way to work today I was fortunate to drive my Saab 9-5 as always. And I started thinking how grateful I am. I took delivery of my brand new Oak Metallic Saab 9-5 in September 2010. I had to wait 8-9 weeks for my Oakie. The waiting was days and weeks filled with anticipation and excitement. This was my very first car bought new. The day I took delivery of my brand new Saab was the highlight of my Saab years.

Today I am very grateful that I got the chance to take delivery of a brand new Saab once in my life. This is just my car, designed and developed by the skilled and loyal workers of Saab. And the car I am driving each day was produced by the fine workers of Trollhättan just for me! When they fastened a screw they did it just for me!

So to all the employees of Saab, thank you so much for making my beloved car.

My Oakie also once got the honor of being fan pic of the week on Saab Cars on Facebook

Chinese, Turks and undisclosed parties interested in the Saab bankruptcy estate

Updated with info from bankruptcy administrator on the number of interested parties

According to Dagens Industri, Chinese Youngman is ready to buy the Saab bankruptcy estate. The bid will be for the whole or parts of the business that does not rely on the General Motors (GM) technology.

"We want to secure workplaces and see to it that the business can stay in Trollhättan. But the production will not remain at the same level as it has been," said lawyer and spokesman for Youngman Johan Nylén to DI.

The bid will more or less be for the Phoenix technology, which is not fully developed. But Nylén will not rule out other parts not dependent on GM technology.

"We will immediately start a dialogue with GM, but also with the bankruptcy administrators. We are very keen to have a good relationship with General Motors," Johan Nylén told DI.

To TTELA Johan Nylén said that Youngman will arrive to Sweden tomorrow to meet the bankruptcy administrators.

"The management of the company [Youngman] was very disappointed by GM's response this weekend, but they are still interested in finding a solution. They will act fast. They are interested in Saab's technology development, Saab Powertrain and the Phoenix technology. Or rather they are really interested in saving as much as possible of the existing operations in Trollhättan," Nylén said to TTELA.

According to Nylén, Youngman is interested in producing the current Saab 9-3 which is not based on unqiue GM technology and then start producing cars based on the new Phoenix technology.

"But the new models can not be introduced on the market for another one or two years, and until then it's all about surviving in some form."

But Youngman is not the only interested party. According to Norwegian business newspaper Dagens Næringsliv, at least ten different parties have been in discussions with Victor Muller lately with the aim to invest in Saab.

Swedish TTELA now writes that several Chinese parties have shown interest for the Saab bankruptcy estate. Probably including vehicle manufacturers other than Youngman. Maybe the former suitor BIAC?

According to TT, the number of parties interested in taking over the whole or parts of the bankruptcy estate is five. This according to the bankruptcy administrator. One is Youngman and if DI and TTELA is correct, we can assume that one is Turkish and one other is Chinese.

One of the other non-Chinese parties might be Turkish. Dagens Industri reports that the Turkish embassy has been in contact with both Sweden's Ministry of Enterprise and Saab's owner Swedish Automobile expressing interest in Saab. Turkey has many car factories but no car brands. CEO of the European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA), Lars Holmqvist, does however think that the Turks are only interested in the technology and not the Trollhättan factory.

"Regardless of who buys all or parts of Saab's facilities, there is little chance of it staying in Trollhättan," Lars Holmqvist told Sedish TV SVT.

So now it looks like Saab must rely on the good will from the interested parties rather than GM after the American company decided to show Saab no mercy. But at the same time it must rely on the two other companies which holds the rights to the Saab name and Gripen logo. These are the aerospace and defence company Saab AB and the commercial vehicle developer and producer Scania AB. These two companies can turn out to be crucial in deciding the destany of the Saab brand and the future of Trollhättan. And one can hope that they will set conditions, e.g. that Saab must stay in Trollhättan with both development and manufacturing, for anyone to buy and use the brand, including the Chinese.

You can read more about the agreement that protects of the use of the Saab name and the Gripen logo here.

And to GM I have this message: Hands off! If GM as much as considers biding on the Phoenix technology to keep it away from other manufacturers, then GM is in for trouble!

Monday, December 19, 2011

A glimmer of hope

First let me remind you that Saab today filed for bankruptcy. Later today TTELA reported that Vänersborg District Court approved the filing and Saab is now declared bankrupt. It is 99.9 percent certain that no more Saab cars will ever be produced.

That said, after the dust settled this morning, reports came through that the Swedish law opens up for someone to come and buy the bankruptcy estate of Saab. And this buyer can restart the company. Even Victor Muller said this to the news media, and he even claimed that interested parties had been in contact. Also the industry analyst Matts Carlsson said that he believes that Saab can come back. Carlsson even went as far as saying that this could be a strategic move from Victor Muller to eliminate GM's possibility to block a deal with the Chinese.

So there is a glimmer of hope. But I can't stress this enough: this is highly unlikely!

Saab died three years ago

Today will be remembered as the day the car brand Saab died. But don't let anyone fool you. Saab died more than three years ago in an office thousands of miles away from Trollhättan.

The Saab car division was established after WW2 when Saab needed to find new products to produce and sell. Saab was originally a war plane developer and manufacturer and when the war was over the company needed one more leg to stand on. After experimenting with a few other products, the company developed its first car, the UrSaab in 1947.

From there on Saab was a car company. The first car to hit the market was the Saab 92 in 1949. A two door aerodynamically shaped car with a two cylinder two stroke engine and front wheel drive. It was a small revolution in the car world. Saab improved the car year by year and during the 1950s and 1960s Saab became a victorious car brand in rally competitions.

Saab was always an engineer driven company and did not always do what was the financially best option. It was all about the cars, and the founder and car guy Marcus "Dodde" Wallenberg made sure that the development of the Saab cars could continue despite financial statements written in red.

In 1977 Saab shocked the world by introducing the Saab 99 Turbo. The world's first family car with a reliable turbo powered engine and sports car performance. A few years later the Saab 99 was developed into the Saab 900 which saw to it that Saab turned into a successful company with record sales and nice profits.

Then at the end of the 1980s things started to look difficult. Saab needed new and modern platforms to develop new cars and partners to share the costs. At the end of 1989 Saab-Scania was in the last stage of selling the car division to Fiat. Then General Motors showed up. GM had just lost Jaguar to Ford and was desperate to buy an European premium car brand. In the eleventh hour GM bought Saab, without any thoughts about what it wanted to do with the brand.

Unfortunately GM never paid much attention to its odd Swedish car brand and even worse, instead of giving Saab the needed money to develop a competitive car portfolio, it found it better to use that money to cover the yearly losses.

When GM itself was on the brink of bankruptcy in 2008, the company decided to clean up its car brand portfolio. And in that office thousands of miles away from Trollhättan it was decided that Saab would have to go. And if GM could not have Saab, no one else would either.

And so every other week we could read in the news yet another GM executive putting Saab down. Saying that the brand was a disaster. It never had made money. Saab had lost piles of money year after year. Saab would never be a success, etc etc. Was that the way to sell an asset? Would you describe the house you are selling as full of ants, mold infested and falling to pieces? Of course not! If you are serious about selling, you keep your mouth shut if you have nothing good to say! Just look at how elegantly Ford sold Volvo.

GM was (unfortunately) saved by the tax payers of the USA. The biggest car company in the world was itself in need of charity and good will from some one bigger than itself. Charity and good will it decided in 2008 that it was not willing to show Saab.

To GM big surprise several parties turned out to be interested in buying Saab. As mentioned already, GM did all it could to discourage any buyers, but the lure of the Saab brand was stronger than the warnings from GM.

Among the twenty or so parties interested, there was Geely, which was the second biggest automaker in China. We also had a financially powerful US company called Renco Group, which among other things produced the Humvee military vehicle. There was even a tiny Swedish super car company called Koenigsegg.

In June 2009, to much surprise, GM announced that it was negotiating with Koenigsegg Group. A consortium spun from the small Swedish company producing the Koenigsegg sports car. GM had chosen not to negotiate with Renco Group and Chinese Geely (which ended up buying Volvo), despite their offers being better than the one from Koenigsegg.

Why did GM chose tiny Koenigsegg? For at least two reasons. First, the company was too small to constitute any threat to GM in the future. Secondly, because GM did not believe the deal would be followed through. It was all an act by GM to have an alibi when people later would look for someone to blame when Saab was to be liquidated. Then GM could say that it had tried to sell Saab without luck.

In November tiny Koenigsegg gave up just like GM had foreseen. And GM announced that Saab would be liquidated, all according to plan.

But something happen that screwed up GM's plan. An even tinier Dutch company called Spyker Cars entered the field. And this company had a tenacious CEO that never gave up. Spyker handed in bid after bid and at the same time the pressure from fans and press became too much even for GM.

And in February 2010 GM sold Saab Automobile to tiny Spyker Cars. But GM had at least avoided selling Saab to a competitor, and had added several clauses in the deal with the buyer Spyker Cars which said that GM would have to approve any future changes in the ownership of Saab.

Not surprisingly, Saab soon ran into financial problems. It turned out to be harder than expected to rebuild the brand. A brand GM had damaged almost beyond repair with all the negative comments from the GM executives during 2009. Saab's CEO and Chairman Victor Muller then negotiated a deal with China's and the world's biggest car distributor Pang Da and the upper class coach builder Youngman. This was a fantastic deal. A deal that had the potential of making Saab an important player in China, the world's biggest market.

But GM did not like this deal. China had overtaken the US as GM's biggest market. If there was something GM did not need, it was another premium competitor in China. Especially one that could produce high quality cars locally and distribute them through the biggest dealer network in the country. And so GM decided that if Saab finalized any deals with the Chinese, GM would stop supplying Saab with technology and cars.

Saab had been developing its own vehicle architecture since 2008. But this architecture was still 1 – 2 years from market launch. And in the mean time Saab was totally dependant on GM's technology. GM knew this and insisted that it could not supply Saab with technology should Saab's deals with China be finalized.

Don't let GM or anyone else fool you. This was never about protecting technology. This was all about protecting its market share in China. The technology Saab uses in the Saab 9-3 is old (pre 2003) and has not been unique for several years. The technology Saab uses in the Saab 9-5 is still unique, but within two or three years even this technology will be widespread. And the Chinese would need at least two or three years to make use of this technology in their own vehicles. And that is assuming that they would "steal" the technology, which is an outrageous assumption in the first place.

And so the company which crawled to Washington D.C., went down on its knees and begged for mercy and money to be saved from bankruptcy and extinction, held the axe that killed Saab. The mercy GM was shown in 2009, it could not pass on to Saab.

And so Saab did not die today. Saab died three years ago by the hands of GM.

Saab files for bankruptcy

Swedish Automobile has just announced that its subsidiaries Saab Automobile AB, Saab Automobile Tools AB and Saab Automobile Powertrain AB files for bankruptcy.
Zeewolde, The Netherlands, 19 December 2011 – Swedish Automobile N.V. (Swan) announces that Saab Automobile AB (Saab Automobile), Saab Automobile Tools AB and Saab Powertrain AB filed for bankruptcy with the District Court in Vänersborg, Sweden this morning.
After having received the recent position of GM on the contemplated transaction with Saab Automobile, Youngman informed Saab Automobile that the funding to continue and complete the reorganization of Saab Automobile could not be concluded. The Board of Saab Automobile subsequently decided that the company without further funding will be insolvent and that filing bankruptcy is in the best interests of its creditors. It is expected that the Court will approve of the filing and appoint receivers for Saab Automobile very shortly.
Swan does not expect to realize any value from its shares in Saab Automobile and will write off its interest in Saab Automobile completely.

Saab's CEO and Chairman Victor Muller on his way into Vänersborg District Court with the bankruptcy applications

"I'm in despair and furious at once," Victor Muller told TTELA today after Saab filed for bankruptcy.

Muller told TTELA that the decision to file for bankruptcy was taken this morning after he received the reply on an email he sent to GM concerning the latest proposal to save Saab.

When asked how he feels about GM right now, Muller responded "how would you feel?".

"GM said that they would not support any investment from Youngman, it be loan or capital investment. Youngman could not disregard that threat," said Muller.

What will happen today?

Yesterday, December 18th, it was exactly two years since GM announced that it would liquidate Saab Automobile. Today GM might finally get its wish.

Today at 13:00 CET, a hearing concerning the Saab reconstruction is to be held at the Vänersborg District Court. At this hearing Saab, its creditors and its court appointed administrator of the reconstruction will get the chance to express their opinion about whether Saab should stay in reconstruction or not. Thereafter the court will make a decision.

But it could end even earlier. If Saab has not gotten the funds needed to pay employee salaries for November and the coming salaries for December and other running costs during the reconstruction, Saab might file for bankruptcy even before the court hearing starts this afternoon.

GM did its best to stop that funding when it this weekend made it clear that it will not approve any deal where Saab gets funds from China. Even if the technology deals between GM and Saab only require an approval from GM when the ownership of Saab change, GM can more or less kill Saab by breaking the technology deals and refusing to supply Saab and instead fight it out in numerous court battles. The question is if Youngman is willing to risk that scenario and thus still willing to fund Saab.

Many days have earlier been proclaimed the most important day in the history of Saab, and today might just be the day on top of that list.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

GM just trying to scare away Youngman?

This weekend we got the news that Gangster Motors (GM) claims that it must not only approve any changes in the ownership of Saab Automobile but also in who is providing the funds to operate Saab. A claim which of course is totally ludicrous. But the question is if the statement is enough to scare Youngman and the Chinese bank off, and if not, will the next months and years see numerous legal battles between Swedish Automobile and GM?

Lars Holmqvist, CEO of the European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA), does not think that GM legally can stop the deal.

"I think this is a statement to keep the Chinese partner SAIC in a good mood, because it shows that GM is trying to stop the transfer of technology to China," Lars Holmqvist said to Swedish Radio.

"I believe that it probably is not possible to stop it legally. The way the deal is arranged, as I have been informed by Victor Muller, should be in such a way that it can be done despite the deals signed between GM and Swedish Automobile when Saab was bought two years ago," said Holmqvist.

When Saab in February 2010 was sold from GM to Spyker Cars (now named Swedish Automobile), the sale also consisted of several technology deals so that Saab could continue producing the Saab 9-3 and the Saab 9-5 which are based on GM owned technology, and GM would supply Saab with the Saab 9-4X. Deals that require GM's approval before any changes in the ownership of Saab can be carried out.

"I think it is very strange that GM made this statement yesterday. Nobody has informed GM, at least not the two parties which are negotiating. And I do not understand how GM can make a statement on an issue they have not been asked to respond to," Holmqvist said.

Lars Holmqvist believes that Saab can still complete the loan deal with Youngman, but the question is whether Youngman now dares.

"This does probably just mean that Youngman, the partner, can get doubtful and that can turn into a disaster in this case, because it could mean that the promised money is not paid," Lars Holmqvist said.

"But otherwise I do not think it has any affect. Victor Muller has been aware of this all long, Youngman too, and they have reach an arrangement which a lot of lawyers have looked at. I believe that it holds up from a purely legal point of view, but it is possible that this is psychological warfare by GM to stop Saab."

And according to Saab's CEO Victor Muller, Youngman has so far not seemed to be affected by GM's statement.

"The negotiations are ongoing. So far there has been no reaction from Youngman on GM's statement," Victor Muller wrote to Swedish Radio this morning.

GM determined to kill off Saab

Yesterday afternoon General Motors (GM) said in a statement that it will say a definite no to all proposals for a further reconstruction of Saab. Saab's CEO and Chairman, Victor Muller, does however not agree that GM has to approve the latest arrangement.

"Saab's various new alternative proposals are not meaningfully different from what was originally proposed to General Motors and rejected", said GM spokesman James Cain.

"Each proposal results either directly or indirectly in the transfer of control and/or ownership of the company in a manner that would be detrimental to GM and its shareholders. As such, GM cannot support any of these proposed alternatives”, Cain added.

GM has earlier said no to two different proposals for deals where Chinese companies takes stakes in Saab. This time Saab's owner Swedish Automobile has reached an agreement with Chinese Youngman where the Chinese takes no stake in Saab Automobile, but instead gets part ownership of a new technology company. According to Victor Muller, such an arrangement should not require any approval from GM.

"We do not think that GM has any say in an arrangement where Youngman gets no stake in Saab Automobile. The statement is obviously done from hearsay, and meant to affect Monday's court hearing negatively, " Victor Muller wrote in a text message to Svenska Dagbladet.

GM and spokesman James Cain do however not agree.

"After we rejected Saab's latest proposal, we know that Saab began exploring alternative ways that they (wrongly) believes do not require approval from our side," James Cain writes in an email to Svenska Dagbladet.

The man proposed as new administrator of the reconstruction of Saab, Lars Söderqvist, is bewildered.

"I do not understand at all why GM makes this statement," Lars Söderqvist said.

"The latest proposal is designed in such a way that it does not required the approval of GM," said Söderqvist.

Söderqvist continued saying that he does not know if GM has been presented the latest arrangement in detail.

"But I think it is natural that if you reach an agreement that does not concern GM at all, then it would be very odd if you informed them fully about the new agreement."

What to think of this? Let me be blunt: The past months, not mention the last three years, clearly shows that GM is determined to kill off Saab. I am convinced that this was the plan in 2008 and still is.

Lyssna: "GM måste skydda sina intressen"

Friday, December 16, 2011

CLEPA to support any attempt to restart Saab

TTELA reports that Vänersborg District Court has decided that Guy Lofalk will stay as administrator of the Saab reconstruction until Monday. Saab's creditors will have the chance to air their opinion about the proposed new administrator Lars Söderqvist, before the court makes its decision after the Monday hearing.

The head of the European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA), Lars Holmqvist, tells just-auto that they will do everything to support Saab:

"We will support any attempt to try to restart Saab. We are just waiting for the green light," Holmqvist told just-auto.

Which most likely means that CLEPA will have no objections against Lars Söderqvist as new administrator and also will support a continued reconstruction.
According to Holmqvist of CLEPA, the bankruptcy rumors on Monday was due to people around Victor Muller trying to pressure Muller into filing for bankruptcy. But Muller did not let those people impact his firm belief in Saab's future.

"We have been up and down listening to Victor Muller. On Friday I was quite pessimistic and on Friday night he [Muller] sent a copy of the statement slip that the money had been sent by Youngman," Holmqvist said to just-auto and continued:

"Then, on Monday, he was pressed by people around him to file for bankruptcy. They were afraid they would be personally responsible for debts. But he refused and he was right because the money arrived and he got a respite again. Another rabbit hopped up from the hat - I knew what was going on, but I did not think it was going to be in time."

Holmqvist also said that under the current plan the Chinese will supply enough funds to restart Saab.

"That means they [Youngman] will provide EUR 200 million and a financial investor will provide EUR 500 million - that will be enough to restart and give Saab a chance. Youngman has already spent a lot of money, if nothing else to protect the investment they have already made."

But for the court to rule that the reconstruction can continue, money to pay running costs like salaries must be present on Monday, or at least a binding promise of immediate funds must be presented.

Today Victor Muller said to TTELA that the salaries to the Saab employees will be paid as soon as possible. The goal is to have secured funding to pay salaries and other due costs incurred during the reconstruction on Monday. Muller and Rachel Pang from Youngman will continue the discussions about the deal to fund Saab in Stockholm during the weekend.

So I guess there will be one more weekend of hard work in Stockholm while the rest of us enjoy a couple of days off work!

Different kinds of Saabs

Most of us know that the company that started to produce the Saab cars was originally a aeroplane manufacturer. Hence the name SAAB - Svenska Aeroplan Aktie Bolaget - the Swedish Aeroplane Joint-stock Company.

And some of us have also heard about Data Saab, the company which developed computers and was actually the company where former Saab CEO Jan-Åke Jonsson started his Saab career.

But did you know that Saab made boats too? And camping trailers? I didn't until today. Here are a few pictures from Klassiker.

Data Saab's D-2 computer from 1960

 Data Saab's Sara computer

Saab's 401 hovercraft boat from 1963 

Saab Saalina boat from 1946

Saab's Saabo camping trailer from 1964

The Saab-Scania family from around 1970

Thursday, December 15, 2011

New reconstruction administrator proposed

The current administrator of the Saab reconstruction, Guy Lofalk, and Saab's management have proposed Lars Söderqvist from Hökerberg & Söderqvist law firm as the next administrator.

"I have been informed and have also been given the opportunity to get confirmation from the parties involved on the conditions for the plan. The confirmations have been of a nature that I have determined that there are conditions for this to be successful," Lars Söderqvist said to Swedish news agency TT.

Yesterday it became known that Lofalk had asked the court to be relieved from his duties as administrator. Saab then proposed that Lars-Henrik Andersson of the Stockholm branch of Lindahl law firm should be appointed, but Andersson earlier today told the court that he was not available.

This evening Victor Muller told GT that Andersson was forced to pass on being administrator when the Gothenburg branch of the law firm decided that the firm would not be part of the reconstruction. Reason being that the firm believes that they will be chosen to handle a potential Saab bankruptcy, and the firm that handles a reconstruction can not also handle a bankruptcy in the same company.

I presume that corporate Sweden makes a note of how Lindahl law firm conducts business.

The court will decide on Monday's hearing who will be appointed.

New administrator jumps ship before he starts

Swedish GP reports that the man suggested as new administrator of the Saab reconstruction has jumped ship even before he takes on the task.

Yesterday the current administrator Guy Lofalk in a letter to the Vänersborg District Court applied to be relieved from the task as administrator of the Saab reconstruction. In the same letter Saab suggested that Lars-Henrik Andersson should be appointed new adminsitator and it said that Andersson was willing to take on the task.

But earlier today Lars-Henrik Andersson telephoned the Vänersborg District Court and said that he would not be able to take on the task as administrator after all. The reason for the sudden change of heart is unknown.

Saab will have until 16:00 CET today to suggest another administrator.

"We will find a new person. We are working on it together with Guy Lofalk now," said Eric Geers, Executive Director Communications.

The court will appoint a new administrator on Monday.

This was another piece of uncertainty and unprofessionality that Saab does not need.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Exit Lofalk, enter Andersson

The court appointed administrator of the Saab reconstruction, which on Wednesday last week applied to the court to end the reconstruction, has today requested to be relieved from his duties as administrator. That's according to Vänersborg District Court.

Guy Lofalk exits...

According to TTELA, in his request Lofalk writes that the new agreement being discussed between Swedish Automobile and Youngman regarding Saab deserves the attention of a new administrator.

Is this what they call to resign before you get sacked?

In his application to resign, Lofalk writes that he has been informed that Swedish Automobile and Youngman have come to an agreement on a new funding for Saab Automobile and its subsidiaries. He continues saying that the assessment he made prior to applying for a termination of the reconstruciton was based on the previous attempts at funding Saab. He has not had time to assess the new funding plan, but thinks that it deserves the attention of a new administrator.

Lofalk also writes that a new administrator should be appointed ASAP so that the new administrator can decide whether the reconstruction should continue or not.

Lofalk's application can be read here.

The legal counselor that has been suggested by Saab to replace Lofalk is Lars-Henrik Andersson from Lindahl's law firm. Andersson has already agreed to be administrator, but the court will have the final word on the matter on Monday.

Lars-Henrik Andersson enters?

TTELA reports that at the court hearing on Monday also Saab's CEO Victor Muller and CEO of Youngman Automotive Rachel Pang will be present, and both will of course argue that the reconstruction must continue.

One good thing one can read out of all this is that Lofalk now seems to believe that the latest deal between Swedish Automobile and Youngman might actually work.

One stakeholder that argues that the reconstruction must end is Platzer Fastigheter, which owns buildings in Gothenburg rented by Saab. Dagens Industri reports that the company requests that the reconstruction is ended since the company does not believe that Saab can raise enough funds to survive.

The latest deal to save Saab

Swedish newspaper Dagens Industri today writes about the latest deal to save Saab. Accoring to DI, the first part of the deal is to secure EUR 30 - 40 million through payments from Youngman. This money is supposed to be used to pay salaries to the Saab employees and ensure a continued reconstruction.

The next step is for an undisclosed Chinese bank to loan SEK 2 - 3 billion (EUR 230 - 340 million) to Saab. Money probably intended to be used to redeem the loan in the European Investment Bank and pay suppliers so that production of Saab cars in Trollhättan can be restarted.

Chinese Youngman will guarantee the loan in the Chinese bank and will in return get convertible preferred shares in Saab. These are shares that do not give the holder any influence on the company, but which after a predetermined time can be turned into ordinary shares in the common stock. One can imagine that the redemption date can be around 5 years from now, when Saab no longer will depend on General Motors (GM) unique technology.

By giving Youngman only preferred shares without any influence over Saab, the hope is that GM will accept the deal and still supply Saab with technology.

Rachel Pang, CEO of Youngman Automotive and Saab's biggest fan in China?

Youngman will also agree to invest SEK 10 billions the next five years. This investment will be in a joint-venture company and not directly into Saab.

According to TTELA, the plan is to establish a joint-venture company which holds the rights to Saab developed technology and which is responsible for technology development at Saab. This company will be part owned by Youngman and part owned by Saab's parent company Swedish Automobile. Should Saab go bust, this will secure Youngman some value for money invested and the loan it is to guarantee.

The establishment of a joint-venture company will not require any changes in the ownership structure of Saab Automobile and this part of the deal will therefore not need the blessing of GM or the European Investment Bank. The Swedish National Debt Office (NDO) will however need to approve such a deal since the NDO has plegdes in much of Saab's assets. It has been reported that Victor Muller did meet the NDO on Monday, and it is probable that the meeting was in regard to such a deal. The NDO has said that their collateral in Saab's tools and parts companies should be enough to cover the loan in the EIB which the Swedish Government has guaranteed for Saab. And the NDO should therefore be open to allowing a joint-vernture company that holds Saab's development and technology.

In this deal China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) will have to approve the Chinese investments/loans. From earlier we know that two local branches of the Development and Reform Commission approved the intital plan where Youngman and Pang Da would become part owners of Saab. It is uncertain whether the NDRC will approve the deal outlined here or not. But Youngman transferring EUR 3.4 million yesterday is a good sign. And if the promised EUR 30 - 40 million is also transferred quickly (which is a big sum that probably needs clearance by high level Chinese authorities), then we can consider it a very good sign.

So that is the deal according to Swedish news media. We will have to wait and see if this is the final deal that saves Saab.