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.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Details on final plan to save Saab emerge

Yesterday we got reports that last week Saab's current owner Swedish Automobile had reached an agreement with Chinese suitor Youngman and a third party for the sale of Saab. Now Swedish TV SVT reports that the third party is Chinese state owned Bank of China and will together with Youngman take a stake below 50 percent in Saab's parent company Swedish Automobile.

According to Swedish Radio SR, Chinese vehicle manufacturer Youngman will take a 19.9 percent stake and Bank of China will get 29.9 percent, and thus not a majority stake. Chinese vehicle distributor Pang Da is completely out of the deal. Victor Muller and the current owners of Swedish Automobile will keep a majority share of just over 50 percent.

In other words, under this arrangement the current owner Swedish Automobile will keep control over Saab. The license agreements between Saab and GM are said to include an ownership clause that says that no car maker can own 20 percent or more of Saab. The hope is that this new ownership structure, where Youngman only takes 19.9 percent, will reassure GM that it is still safe to supply Saab with technology licenses.

The plan is said to also include a payment to GM for the preference shares it currently holds in Saab, and a repayment of the loan Saab has in the European Investment Bank (EIB). This would mean that the Swedish state will no longer need to guarantee the Saab loans in the EIB, and will also no longer have any say in future changes in the ownership structure of Saab.

This new agreement also includes an investment plan to restart production in Trollhättan, and the payment of the November wages to the employee of Saab. A payment which is said to happen tomorrow.

China's top economic planning body, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), will also need to approve any Chinese investment outside China, but it would be very surprising if Youngman and especially the Bank of China have not consulted with the NDRC before engaging in such a deal.

So next week two things needs to happen for this last and probably final attempt at saving Saab to succeed. GM needs to accept the new arrangement and the employees at Saab need to get paid the November wages. Or else a bankruptcy might be the only outcome for Saab.