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.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Youngman laywer cocky about Chinese odds of winning Saab

The management of Chinese Youngman arrived in Sweden late last night destined to buy the Saab bankruptcy estate. At least that is what their lawyer and spokesman in Sweden were expressing when he with much confidence talked to just-auto.

"I would not consider anyone else as a serious competitor really," Johan Nylén told just-auto.

He continued saying that the Chinese had "alternative solutions" should GM once again raise objections.

"If we can't accomplish it, we have a fall-back scenario," said Nylén.

A piece of news not too encouraging to any prospective buyer of Saab is that Volvo has already hired 50 former Saab engineers and now is considering another 50 engineers from Saab.

"We have at this stage recruited around 50 engineers from Saab and we have another 50 in a recruitment process without them being signed up as employees yet," a Volvo spokesman told just-auto.

Today's Saab bankruptcy news in short

Here's a short summary of the latest Saab news concerning the bankruptcy.

Sweden's National Debt Office (NDO), which last week paid back Saab's EUR 217 million loan to the European Investment Bank and by doing so took one big step towards ownership over the company Saab Automobile Parts AB which acted as security for the loan, is now taking the necessary steps to take over two available board positions in the company.

Saab Automobile Parts, on its part, is reported to be in the process of hiring approx. 50 former Saab workers.

Saab Automobile Parts will survive no matter what happens with the bankrtupcy estate after the Saab bankruptcy. At the time being still under the wings of the bankruptcy administrators, but if not a credible buyer of the entire Saab operations emerge, the NDO will take over the company and run it or sell it.

The bankruptcy administrators today said that 4-5 parties have shown interest in acquiring the entire Saab business and 5-10 are interested in parts of the business.

One of the parties which was rumered to be interested in the entire business is Indian Mahindra & Mahindra. Now IndianCarsBikes writes that Mahindra is said to be teaming up with an unnamed private-equity firm to place a bid of $200-300 million for only parts of the Saab business. I am however a bit uncertain about the credibility of this report due to other factual errors in the report.

Saab's North American operations, Saab Cars North America (SCNA), is trying to survive the bankruptcy in the parent company and find a new life as a Saab spare parts supplier. But now 40 Saab dealers are reported to be filing for involuntary bankruptcy in SCNA, which could mean that the company has reached the end of the line.

Youngman back in Sweden ready to talk

The management of Chinese Youngman arrived to Sweden late last night according to local Trollhättan newspaper TTELA. In the briefcase Chairman Pang Qingnian and his daughter and CEO Rachel Pang most likely have a bid on Saab. A bid based on a business plan not relying on support from General Motors.

"Youngman is not dependent on General Motors's decision," said Johan Nylén, Swedish spokesman of Youngman, to TTELA.

It was in the days ahead of Saab's bankruptcy filing on December 19, that General Motors (GM) made it clear that it would not support any transactions where Youngman took any ownership in Saab. Later GM has also said that they will not support any transaction, no matter who the buyer would turn out to be.

Now Youngman has evidently prepared a bid and a business plan where Saab will not depend on technical support or component sale from GM.

"You could say that Youngman is not dependent on General Motors. Youngman thinks that the operations at Trollhättan can be restarted, even without General Motors," Nylén said.

The Youngman management has a full schedule during their stay in Sweden.

"They will stay as long as necessary but at least one week," Johan Nylén said.

During their stay they will meet a number of people, organizations and companies that are significant to a restart of Saab.

"Then the next step is to begin final negotiations with the administrators," Nylén said, but he could not say exactly when those talks would take place:

"It depends on the administrators. We want to start a negotiation as soon as possible. Ideally, we would sit and discuss right now," said Johan Nylén.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Preparing to discuss trademarks

Today the management of Chinese Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile is expected to arrive in Sweden with the aim to start the discussion with the Saab bankruptcy administrators and place a bid during the week.

According to Swedish Radio P4 Väst, the first group of the Chinese arrived earlier today in Stockholm and the rest, which includes CEO of Youngman Automobile Rachel Pang, are expected later today and tomorrow.

To Dagens Industri the co-administrator Kent Hägglund confirms that the Chinese are expected this week and that one issue to be discussed is the Saab trademarks.

"They want to present themselves and how they view the handling of the trademarks and those issues. Saab AB and Scania are of course also interested in knowing how they view the use of the trademarks, and I suppose that's what they will explain," said Kent Hägglund to Dagens Industri.

And all of the interested parties have expressed the wish that the Saab trademarks are part of the sale of Saab.

"That's the goal for all the interested parties as far as we have understood - that the brand name will remain."

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Four to five parties interested in acquiring entire Saab

According to TT, four to five parties are interested in buying Saab in its entirety. TT cites Hans Bergqvist, who is one of the bankruptcy administrators.

"I can not comment on who we are negotiating with. But we are in a dialogue with four, five interested parties who we believe have a serious interest," Bergqvist told TT.

We known from earlier that Chinese vehicle manufacturer Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile is one of these parties. As reported on Friday, the management of Youngman is expected to Sweden tomorrow to present their bid to the administrators.

Turkish private-equity firm Brightwell Holdings has also made it clear that they will place a bid on Saab, probably next week also. But Brightwell has expressed concern about the Saab engineers finding new jobs. Yesterday Zamier Ahmed of Brightwell told just-auto that they will make a statement concerning the engineers of Saab shortly.

"At the end of the day, Saab will not be the entity we want it to be if we don't have skilled engineers for local production. We will make a statement with regards to that in the very near future [when] we have a better picture of the positioning for our proposal," Ahmed said and continued "The core of Saab is the people - without these core people we don't have a product. We will do everything we can to make sure we provide an intelligent and sustainable platform for former workers of Saab to work with us."

Also the administrators feel that time is of essence, but maybe for a slightly different reason:

"We have to hurry due to the economic situation we are in. To make it possible for someone to restart the activity again, we have to keep the factory in good shape, and that costs an incredible amount of money," administrator Hans Bergqvist told TT.

I addition to the aforementioned interested parties, vehicle manufacturer Mahindra & Mahindra of India has also been said to be interested. In fact so interested that representatives from the company have been in Sweden and Trollhättan for several days now doing a due diligence on Saab. So M&M is also probably one of the four to five parties mentioned by Bergqvist.

The last one or two parties are anyone's guess. The administrators have said that they have also been in contact with Swedish parties and parties mixed of Swedish and foreign stakeholders. Early in the process Canadian Magna International, which is the world's third biggest automotive supplier, was also mentioned. My take on it is that Magna is unlikely since they said that they are happy to remain a supplier to the automotive industry.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Chinese arriving Monday to place bid, Turkish bid only days away

Swedish Radio P4 Väst reports that a large delegation from Chinese Youngman is expected to Sweden on Monday to present a bid on Saab. At the same time Turkish company Brightwell is reported to be only days away from also placing bid on Saab.

The Chinese delegation is expected to include the whole management of Youngman including Chairman of the board and founder of Youngman Mr. Pang Qingnian. The purpose of the visit is to place a bid on the entire Saab operating, a bid which is to presented to the Saab bankruptcy administrators on Monday.

But the Chinese will not be alone. Radio P4 Väst reports that also Mahindra & Mahindra of India has now spent several days in Sweden getting an overview of the Saab operations.

"It will be a thrilling fight between Youngman and Mahindra on who will finally buy the bankruptcy estate," a source said to Radio P4 Väst.

But not even the Chinese and the Indian suitors are alone. Also Turkish Brightwell Holdings is getting ready to place a bid on Saab.

According to Zamier Ahmed, who is board member of Brightwell Holdings, the Turkish private-equity firm is only days away from placing a bid.

"We are just a few days, maybe a week away. This is due to certain final valuations ​​that must be done. This has been an enormous task, given Saab's size, assets and all the people involved," said Zamier Ahmed to

We're now moving rather quickly towards a decision, which means that the administrators eventually will ask for bids from the parties, whoever they are, and make a decisions based on the bids," Ahmed said.

Brightwell has not given up on persuading GM to keep licensing the needed technology to Saab so that Saab can continue producing the new current Saab cars.

"If GM will continuing to licensing their technology, we can begin production within weeks. But if GM, in the worst case scenario do not want to go that route, it does not mean that we are not interested in Saab," said Zamier Ahmed.

Ahmed also said that Brightwell Holdings could still produce cars since the investment company has its own vehicle platform.

"Since we have our own platform, it is not over optimistic. It has been developed internally by one of the companies owned by Brightwell Holdings," said Zamier Ahmed without revealing any more details.

Ahmed also said that he this weekend will travel to Detroit, but he would not say if it is to meet GM.

Sweden has paid Saab's loan in the European Investment Bank

TTELA reports that Sweden's National Debt Office (NDO) has now paid back Saab's EUR 217 million loan in the European Investment Bank (EIB). For Saab to be approved this loan back in 2010, Sweden had to guarantee the loan. The Swedish government gave the NDO the task of guaranteeing the loan. When Saab went bankrupt the EIB called in the loan and thus made the NDO pay.

This means that Sweden through the NDO is now the biggest creditor in the bankruptcy estate. From earlier we also know that the NDO has made sure that they have security for the guarantee they gave. This security was amongst other thing pledged shares in Saab Automobile Parts AB, which is the very profitable Saab genuine spare parts company.

Now the NDO can if it wants, take over the ownership of Saab Automobile Parts AB. But so far it has not. The hope is still that a buyer will emerge and buy the complete Saab Automobile business. But it would probably require that the buyer pays much or maybe even all of the EUR 217 million (approx. SEK 2.2 billion) which the NDO now has paid to the EIB. Or else the NDO and Sweden may be better off taking control over Saab Automobile Parts.

The good thing about all this is that all ties to the bureaucratic EIB is now cut. Any buyer of Saab does not need to worry about the EIB anymore.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Brightwell Holdings one step closer to buying Saab

Updated January 27 8:52 with info about Brightwell's electric car ambitions

Apologies for no updates yesterday and so far today. Not much has happened that has leaked to the media and the news that the museum was saved deserved to be the top story for a while.

Today we got the news that Turkish private-equity firm Brightwell Holdings and the bankruptcy administrators have entered a confidentiality agreement. Which could mean that the company has placed a bid for Saab or will place a bid within shortly.

"We have signed a confidentiality agreement, but that means that I can not say much," said Zamier Ahmed, board member of Brightwell Holdings to Swedish Radio P4 Väst.

"We have close communication with the administrators. We can make an offer as soon as they [the administrators] are ready to receive bids," said Ahmed.

Alphan Manas CEO of Brightwell told Turkish news that they signed the agreement on Saturday.

"We signed a confidentiality agreement last week on Saturday," Manas told Turkish MSNBC.

And the Turks seem confident that they are in the best position to buy Saab.

"We have to see what terms we can offer GM. Obviously, we are standing by at the moment. Within two weeks we will gain more clarity about the future situation. But, in our opinion, because the Chinese and Indian companies require an approval process, I see a low likelihood of them buying," said Manas.

Brightwell seem to be especially interested in Saab's electric car technology.

"My aim is to take the brand back and bring out an electric car, especially in Turkey. Saab is now ready for the electric car. So electric cars are my priority," Manas said and continued "It's my goal to develop a good electric car brand. This is the main reason for my interest in Saab. Currently, there's an electric vehicle prototype. It has been developed together with U.S. and Swedish companies. The product is very very good. Very very successful. We have seen the product."

Manas is obviously talking about the Saab 9-3 SportCombi ePower prototype cars which were under assembly when Saab ran into financial problems last year. As far as I know, some of the car were assembled and should be fully functional electric cars.

The question is if Brightwell plan to keep the production in Sweden for long, or if they will move it Turkey within a few years.

"My goal is to produce electric cars, absolutely and definitely in Turkey," Manas said.

Over to something else. One man who most likely has had a great day today is head of the Saab car museum Peter Bäckström. On Tuesday the municipality of Trollhättan together with Saab AB and the Wallenberg Foundation bought the car collection and in doing so making sure that it stays in Sweden and Trollhättan.

"I don't think I really have grasped it yet. The solution with Saab AB, Trollhättan city, and the Wallenberg could not have been better. This opportunity the buyers give us allow us to begin to look forward," said Peter Bäckström to TTELA.

And the Saab veteran club is ready to help the museum by working for free.

"Around one hundred of Saab's seniors are probably interested in being hosts at the museum from time to time," said Olle Granlund, who retired from Saab ten years where he amongst other things were project manager for the 9-5.

In other words, the future for the Saab museum looks promising. So at least the Saab heritage has been secured!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Saab car museum saved

The Saab car museum has been saved. Trollhättan municipality together with the Wallenberg Foundation and Saab AB have raised SEK 28 million to buy the complete collection of cars.

The municipality pays SEK 14 million, Saab AB pays SEK 8 million and the Wallenberg Foundation the remaining SEK 6 million. The Wallenberg family was earlier owner of Saab Automobile through their investment company Investor and is still large owner of the defense and aerospace company Saab AB. Now they have thankfully decided to help save the heritage of Saab.

"This means a lot, and one should not forget how important the museum is also for tourism. Tourists from all around the world come to watch the Ur-Saab and the other cars," said Paul Åkerlund, who is Mayor of Trollhättan and former labor union boss at Saab.

"We consider it very important to preserve the Swedish industrial history. Making sure that the collection stays in Sweden and Trollhättan is important to us, the cars are also part of our company's heritage," said Carina Brorman, head of communications at Saab AB.

It is however uncertain when the museum will open to the public again.

"First this must be approved by the Municipal Board of Trollhättan, but I expect that to be merely a formality. We have of course clarified this with all the political parties already," Trollhättan Mayor Åkerlund said.

The approval from the Municipal Board is likely to be made at an extraordinary meeting on Monday or Tuesday at the beginning of next week.

Today's bankruptcy bits and pieces

Here's a summary of the news so far today concerning the Saab bankruptcy and the development in selling Saab as an entirety or in parts.

TTELA reports that the future for the Saab car museum is uncertain. The municipality of Trollhättan did place a bid for the museum, but according to information TTELA has gotten, the municipality's bid is not the highest one. And since the bankruptcy administrators' task is to get as much money as possible, the car collection might be sold to others.

"Yes, I have understood that it is so," said Gert-Inge Andersson to TTELA when commenting on Trollhättan's bid being to low.

The National Museum would like to see the collection being kept in Trollhättan and Sweden, but does unfortunately not have the funds to buy it.

"What the National Museum wants is to keep the collection intact, anything else would be deeply unfortunate. We do however not have the money to bid on the whole collection," said Lena Munther who is head of communication at the National Museum.

Over to some good news. As reported yesterday, the bankruptcy co-administrator, Kent Hägglund, who is responsible for legal issues concerning the Saab brandname and the Gripen logo, says to TTELA that he will work for a solution where Saab is sold in its entirety, including the brand name.

"We are in a dialogue with Saab AB and Scania," Hägglund told TTELA, which is good to hear since the reports from Swedish Radio P4 yesterday indicated that he had not been in contact with the two other companies which have right to use the Saab brand name and/or the Gripen logo.

"One would not like to see the nice logo in the wrong hands," Hans-Åke Danielsson, head of information at Scanias said. Which would

Danielsson confirmed to TTELA that they will not make any decision until a buyer of Saab Automobile has emerged. And neither Scania nor Saab is reluctant to discuss a solution where a buyer acquire Saab in its entirety.

One interested party we have heard little from lately is Mahindra & Mahindra of India. But they are still interested in Saab. The last couple of weeks everything have been about Chinese Youngman and Turkish Brightwell Holdings, but now Swedish Radio P4 Väst reports that M&M was in Trollhättan at the end of last week to visit the Saab factory and meet the bankruptcy administrators.

P4 Väst writes that M&M is interested in buying all of Saab and continue production in Trollhättan. But time is of course and issue, and escpecially since both Youngman and Brightwell seem to have come farther in the process.

"They have to work quickly in order to buy the complete bankruptcy estate," a source said to P4 Väst.

Finally, Beijing Auto (BAIC) of China wants to buy the technology behind the Saab ePower electric vehicle. BAIC is best know to Saab fans for in 2010 buying the rights to the previous generation Saab 9-5 and the pre-2006 Saab 9-3. Now they even want the electric car technology. TTELA reports that BAIC is backed by Swedish interests as well as a possible cooperation with Panasonic. But the electric car project is not just owned by Saab but also by Innovatum, a company established to develop the business in the Trollhättan area. CEO of Innovatum, Tore Helmersson, says to DI that they do not want to sell to any company which plans to move everything abroad.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Youngman "totally serious" about buying Saab

Last week a delegation of Trollhättan officials and representatives from suppliers and labor unions traveled to China to meet Chinese Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile and learn about its interest to buy Saab. The clear impression from the trip seem to be that an offer from Youngman on Saab is imminent.

Legal adviser of the labor union IF Metall, Darko Davidovic, told just-auto that Youngman made an impression on the unions representative on the trip.

"He was with a delegation that met Youngman who showed them the factories they have. They showed them they have the financial possibilities to buy the whole of Saab. They are totally serious - they have a lot of ideas," Davidovic said.

According to representatives from the suppliers, Youngman will make an offer within one week or two.

"They said [on 20 January] the week, or the week after next. They will have a strong talk to the lawyers. They are ready to take over production in Sweden," managing director of the Swedish suppliers association FKG, Frederik Sidahl, told just-auto.

CEO of European automotive supplier association CLEPA, Lars Holmqvist, told just-auto that it had sent along a Chinese-speaking representative from Bosch on the trip, and this representative came back telling CLEPA that Youngman had indicated that it could put in an offer of around EUR 1 billion for Saab.

There is however one potential obstacle that could delay or even stop a deal, the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission. The NDRC is the top official economic planning body in China, and the NDRC effectively has the final word on both foreign investments in China as well as Chinese investments abroad. An approval from the NDRC can take as much as three months, and during this time the administrators of the bankruptcy needs money to run the bankruptcy estate.

"They [administrators] have only one job - to sell it for the best price. I think they'll find a buyer in two weeks because they don't have any money. Every day costs a lot of money - they have to sell pieces from the company to have the salaries paid," labor union legal adviser Davidovic said to just-auto.

The union delegate on the trip to China also reported that Youngman has approached a further company with a view to paying the Swedish administrators in the interim, while any NDRC approval was sought, although details of this are unclear.

"They [Saab] have to have 300-400 people employed and all the costs of running the factory. It is the minimum people just to keep the boat floating - maintenance, heat, water, electricity serving the machines so they don't break," said Davidovic.

Saab Cars North America to be liquidated

According to Motorauthority, Saab Cars North America has been marked for liquidation.

Jim McTevia, who was appointed administrator to Saab Cars North America, said "We notified creditors that there is no way to salvage the company."

He continued saying that the parts distribution business was “the only meaningful asset."

President of Saab Cars North America, Tim Colbeck, remains optimistic that a buyer for the parts business can be found. It's still not yet clear if a U.S. company will buy the distribution business.

Leonard Bellavia, a lawyer representing 161 of 188 Saab dealers in the U.S., does however view the asset picture differently from McTevia.

Bellavia estimates that the liquidated assets will have a value in excess of $75 million, including $25 million owed by General Motors for repairs covered under warranty. He estimates the liabilities to be in the range of $10.5 million.

Saab brand name and logo

As reported here on the blog a few times earlier, the use of the Saab brand name and the Gripen logo is regulated by an agreement between car manufacturer Saab Automobile AB, the aerospace and defense company Saab AB and the commercial vehicle developer and producer Scania AB. Due to this agreement, or agreements, a buyer can not simply buy the brand name and continue manufacturing cars. The questions concerning the brand name now that Saab Automobile is in bankruptcy, are said to be very complicated. And for this reason the bankruptcy administrators two weeks ago requested that the Vänersborg District Court would appoint Kent Hägglund as an additional administrator and expert on legal questions concerning brand names.

Swedish Radio P4 Väst has now had a talk with Hägglund and asked him a few questions regarding the brand name and how the work is commencing. Below is an translation of the article.

"A solution in which the whole family contributes"

P4 Väst has spoken to the Saab's bankruptcy administrators new co-administrator, Kent Hägglund. He is responsible for the questions regarding the Saab brand - which is a very complicated history.

"Saab is a nice little family"

"The work is progressing in the sense that I have good contact with Saab AB, Scania and the main administrators," says Kent Hägglund to P4 Väst.

What have you come to so far?

"That this is a relatively complex situation with a number of agreements regulating these matters," says Hägglund who does not want to comment on exactly how the agreements between Saab AB, Scania and Saab Automobile looks.

Kent Hägglund was appointed co-administrator of the Saab bankruptcy by the Vänersborg District Court on January 12th.

He is in charge of matters regarding the trademark "SAAB", the logo mark Gripen, the firm name SAAB and related issues.

Since the appointment, some interested parties have been in touch and asked questions about the Saab brand.

What will it take for someone to be able to use the Saab brand again?

"My starting point is that Saab is a nice little family with a strong family feeling and everyone is keen to nurture this brand. So the starting point is that we will find a solution where the family contributes and we can find a common solution for the future."

Have you had any discussions with interested parties, Saab AB and Scania?

"No. The interesting thing is to sell everything (the bankruptcy estate) as a whole and that means that the main administrators have to discuss with those who are interested in the whole business.

"If such interested parties exist and those discussions are held, then there will be a process concerning the brand and this discussion will be lead by me," says Hägglund.

Kent Hägglund believes that there is a good opportunity for any buyer to use the mark, if they are interested in it.

But it's an advantage if the interested party wants to continue production in Trollhättan.

"Yes, I think that's a clear advantage," Hägglund summarizes.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Summary of bankruptcy administrators' press conference

Today the Saab bankruptcy administrators Hans Bergqvist and Anne-Marie Pouteaux held a press conference. Swedish Radio P4 Väst has done a summary of what was said. Below is a translation.

13:27 - Everything that can be pawned at Saab, has been pawned, strictly speaking, says Bergqvist.

- It affects our jobs.

13:20 - GM has made a clear statement, but there are probably always openings for negotiations in the commercial context, says Bergqvist.

- We have not put off discussions with interested parties, despite GM's statement, we remain intent on selling the whole business.

- There are parties who are interested in Saab, like the brand and the Saab cars.

13:17 According to the administrators, they have received over 500 bids for the Saab Museum cars.

- We have received an incredible number of offers, mainly on parts [of the collection], but even on individual cars. But also a number of bids on the whole [collection]. During the next week we will evaluate the bids. We do not comment on who has made bids. We will disclose information when we are finished.

Those who bid on the whole, do they want to keep the museum open?

- I do not know, we do not have that kind of knowledge.

How will you assess the bids?

- We just calculate what will bring in the most money. It is sad that we are not an authority responsible to preserve culture. It is not our task to preserve the museum, although it would be nice if it were so, we are to get as much money as possible.

13:16 - We are in dialogue with interested parties. We hope it can crystallize in the next two weeks how serious these are. During that time, we evaluate what interest there still is for certain parts of Saab.

13:15 - The estate inventory has not been completed, which is not surprising since this is an enormous task. In the legal sense, we are forced to submit inventory a week before the debtor are to pledge that the information on the inventory is correct.

- What the assets are worth is what the market is willing to pay, says Hans Bergqvist.

13:13 - Now we feel that we are starting to get a handle on the work.

- There have been ongoing discussions with a great number of interested parties. Right from day one. There are some which are interested to bid for the entire operation, some on parts of the business.

13:12 - Our job is to take care of the assets and turn it into money that can be left to the creditors.

- It is no easy task (to find someone to take over Saab) due to many different conditions. Saab is like a patient who for a long time has bled to death. The brutal verdict is that the patient is dead, but the bleeding has not stopped. Such a large operation dies not on its own. It takes time and costs to shut down this kind of business.

13:09 - We've been struggling with a severe liquidity crisis, and at the same time we have had in mind that it is extremely important to try to keep the values ​​in the whole of Saab so that we can determine whether there is an opportunity for a continuation of the business. But we are force to assess if there are things that we can sell to fund the work, but that should not affect the big picture too much. It is a work in progress all the time.

13:08 - Saab Automobile is a bit of an icon and has a great historical value. We have seen an unusual loyalty among employees and suppliers, says the bankruptcy administrators and continue:

13:05 - We decided lay low in our flow of information in the beginning. First, to get information and then to approach GM with something we thought was realistic.,

- Now it has changed after GM's statement. They came out first. We must of course take this into consideration in our further handling.

Development chief Mats Fägerhag leaves Saab

Mats Fägerhag, who was Vice President Vehicle Product Development at Saab, will now end a 20 year career at Saab. His next employer will most likely be Volvo Cars.

"It was a very difficult decision to make and I have had many sleepless nights. But right now there is no company to be employed by. And I also felt that it was time for me to do something new," Fägerhag said to Swedish news agency TT.

Fägerhag started at Saab in 1992 and also worked with vehicle development in Rüsselsheim for three and a half year before returning to Trollhättan in 2008.

"I have done what I was asked to do. To develop a new platform strategy. There are still much expertise around Saab. A restart will not depend on me," he said.

Saab fans will remember Fägerhag's effort at Saab maybe first and foremost for the development of the future Phoenix platform, but also as one of the people in charge of the development of the new Saab 9-5.

Thank you to Mats for his efforts at Saab and good luck in his next job. I hope to see him back at Saab sometime in the future!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Memories from Rallye Monte Carlo

This week the Rallye Monte Carlo is held. At the time of writing this Frenchman Sebastian Loeb is in the lead in his Citroen DS3 ahead of Spaniard Daniel Sordo in his Mini Cooper and Petter Solberg of Norway in his Ford Fiesta.

The Rallye Monte Carlo is perhaps the world's most famous rally and undoubtedly one of the most prestigious to win. In the mountains around Monaco such legendary rally makes as Porsche and Lancia have ruled. But also Saab.

Official advertisement for the Rallye Monte Carlo Historique

Erik "on the roof" Carlsson won this rally two times. The first time was in 1962 in a Saab 96 and then again in a Saab 96 the next year 1963.

When looking at the official web page of the Automobile Club de Monaco, which organize the Rallye Monte Carlo, it is obvious that Saab is a huge part of the history of the rally.

Just look at the advertisement above and the great pictures from the glory days below.

Trollhättan City manager confirms Youngman ready to place bid

Swedish NyTeknik reports that City manager of Trollhättan, Annika Wennerblom, who is on the way home to Sweden after visiting Youngman in China, confirms that Youngman is now ready to place a bid on the Saab bankruptcy estate.

City manager Annika Wennerblom traveled to China on Wednesday accompanied by the region's development director Bertil Törsäter. Both were part of a delegation which also included representatives from the suppliers and the labor unions. The trip was organized after they received an invitation from Youngman to visit two of Youngman's factories and meet the Youngman management .

"Youngman has certain ambitions to buy Saab. So far, they have not had enough information to place a concrete bid. But now they are ready", Annika Wennerblom said to Trollhättan newspaper TTELA.

"There is no doubt that Youngman has the resources to buy and develop Saab Automobile with continued production in Sweden," said Christer Palm, who was representing the suppliers on the trip, to Dagens Industri.

"They want to have development and manufacturing in Trollhättan," regional development director Bertil Törsäter told GP, and continued saying "My clear impression is that this is their ambition".

But he also said that Youngman has not been satisfied with the communication from the bankruptcy administrators.

"They have had a hard time getting the required information," Bertil Törsäter said.

The problem was to get information on which parts of the bankruptcy estate is on sale and which parts are not. But now in the last stages before the bid will be placed "a more intensive dialogue" between Youngman and the administrators have taken place.

In other words, next week we will almost certainly see a bid on Saab from Youngman.

Saab engineers establish new company

According to a press release issued by Swedish state owned venture-capital company Fouriertransform, managers formerly employeed by Saab Automobile in Trollhättan have established a new engineering company together with Fouriertransform and local science center Innovatum.

The new company is named LeanNova Engineering. The new company is expecting to employ 200 people witin a few months and 400 within one year.

Tomas Camén, who previously worked at Saab as head of chassis design, engine installation and HVAC systems, is CEO of LeanNova. Saab fans will know Tomas Camén as one of the engineers behind the 119g/km and 180 HP Saab 9-3 diesel.

Tomas Camén flanked by two former Saab colleagues Andreas Andersson (on the left) and Magnus Hansson (on the right)

"We have an unique collection of expertise, a dream team in vehicle development," Camén told NyTeknik.

"I was laid off and the horror scenario was that everyone would go their separate way. It is the overall engineering excellence that is our strength," he continued.

The idea is to take advantage of the expertise that was released with the Saab Automobile bankruptcy. It's also a way to prevent the engineering competense from being scattered. Through the company, the engineers can be available if there is a party which wants to acquire the complete Saab business and wants to restart production.

"We want to keep as much expertise as possible. If there is a restart of the factory, we will support it," says CEO of Innovatum Tore Helmersson.

So far around ten engineers have started working with selling development assignments for clients in the automotive industry.

GM won't license its technology to anyone bidding on Saab

Today General Motors has made it clear that it will not license its technology to anyone bidding on Saab.

"We are not in discussions with anyone regarding Saab and we will not license technology to any buyer," GM spokesman James Cain said to SvD.

Cain could however not say if this also includes the current Saab 9-3. Earlier we have gotten report that Saab owns the technology to most of the 9-3. But GM is an important supplier of components to the car, among other things to engines and gearboxes.

GM's statement clearly shows that GM never had any intentions other than seeing Saab die. And it also clearly shows that anyone bidding on Saab must have a business plan totally independent of GM technology, which would make Youngman the only likely candidate.

Reports from this week indicates that if Youngman buys Saab, the company will only produce the current Saab 9-3 and without components from GM. And when Saab's future Phoenix technology is finalized, the company will use this technology to gradually increase the number of models starting with the next generation Saab 9-3.

Turkish Brighwell Holdings has said several times that if they buy Saab they want to license technology from GM. Furthermore, Brightwell has said that they have been in contact with GM and that GM is positive to licensing technology to Brightwell. But today's statement leaves no possibility for Brightwell. Today's statement actually suggests that Brightwell is talking BS.

I now hope that the bankruptcy administrators will put their full focus on Youngman. Youngman is the only viable candidate. Youngman is the only party which has shown the commitment, tenacity and seriousness required to buy Saab and make Saab a success.

The bankruptcy administrators have called a press conference on Saturday. It is expected that they will announce that they will accept bids and are opening up for negotiations.

Bidding on Saab car museum cars closed

The bidding on the Saab museum cars has now been closed. The deadline was set to 12:00 CET today. The question is if the cars will be sold one by one, as a whole or in larger groups. Maybe even a bid from Youngman or Brigtwell on the complete Saab business will include the museum.

The bids placed on the cars should be valid until January 27th, which was one of the conditions set by the bankruptcy administrators. In other words, we might get an answer within the next seven days to what will happen with the Saab car museum.

I for one did bid on a few of the cars. I do not expect to get any of them, but I had to take this opportunity to get a classic Saab in almost mint condition.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Turkish Brightwell Holdings also has bid in the works

Yesterday we learned that Chinese vehicle manufacturer Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile plans to place a bid on the Saab bankruptcy estate next week. Now Bloomberg reports that also the Turkish investment company Brightwell Holdings is preparing a bid.

"We will make a bid very shortly, there’s no question," board member of Brightwell Zamier Ahmed told Bloomberg in a phone interview.

The Turkish company has earlier invested in both environmental friendly energy companies as well as automotive companies and has expressed interest in Saab from an environmental point of view.

Zamier Ahmed of Brightwell Holdings

Yesterday local Trollhättan newspaper TTELA reported that Saab's former CEO, Chairman and large shareholder, Victor Muller, is working together with Brightwell.

"I am working closely with Victor Muller, the bankruptcy administrators and others from the Saab management," Zamier Ahmed said to TTELA. Ahmed also added that they have the full support of the Turkish government.

Victor Muller confirmed to TTELA that he was indeed working with Brightwell.

"I believe that Brightwell has sufficient funds to see this deal through. But I am not in the position to determine if they will succeed or not," Muller said.

To Bloomberg Zamier Ahmed said that they want to keep Saab in Trollhättan and Sweden and revive the manufacturing. He continued saying that they will need at least two weeks before submitting any offer as it's still in the middle of a due diligence in order to decide how much to offer. He also added that any transaction will require approval from Saab's former owner, General Motors, as well as the Swedish government and the European Investment Bank.

So as a Saab enthusiast, should we cheer for the Turks or the Chinese? I have not decided yet. Victor Muller working for the Turks could be a indication, but then again I assume he works for them because they pay him? And from earlier we know that Swedish authorities have been skeptic of Muller and did actually push for a complete sale of Saab to the Chinese. I wish I knew which of the parties have the support of Mats Fägerhag and Kjell ac Bergström, because I have full confidence in those two Saab veterans!

Youngman to place 5 billion bid and cut ties to GM

Updated 21:54 with info from E24

Yesterday we learned from Reuters that Youngman is planning to place a bid on the Saab bankruptcy estate next week. Today also Swedish Dagens Industri reports the same news and even says that the bid is SEK 5 billion.

According to DI, in addition to the SEK 5 billion bid, Youngman is also prepared to invest another SEK 5 billion into Saab in order to finish the development of the Phoenix platform and the next Saab 9-3.

Both Chairman of Youngman Pang Qingnian and CEO of Youngman's car division Rachel Pang will travel to Sweden next week to present the offer to the bankruptcy administrators.

A SEK 5 billion bid will probably mean that the suppliers, which Saab owes around SEK 1.5 billion, will be paid. But also Saab's approx. EUR 217 million loan in the European Investment Bank will be redeemed and thus free the collateral (including the Saab Parts company) that the Swedish state has in Saab. And maybe even fellow Chinese company Pang Da will get paid its EUR 45 million for cars never delivered?

Youngman's plan is to continue producing the current 9-3 model in Trollhättan, but now free of GM parts.

"The plan is to restart production of the Saab 9-3 in Trollhättan 15 weeks after an agreement is signed with the administrators," a source of Dagens Industri told the newspaper.

The plan is to replace the GM parts with parts from other suppliers.

"This applies to gearboxes and engines. Who these new suppliers are can not be disclosed at this time. Other components related to GM will be delivered from new suppliers with no connection to GM," the source said.

Earlier it has been mentioned that Youngman would like to source engines from an Italian suppplier, which could point to Fiat. The diesel engines Saab currently use were developed by a Fiat and GM joint-venture, which would make Fiat diesels easier to adopt to the Saab 9-3.

In addition, we also know that Saab reached a deal with BMW in September 2010 in which BMW would supply their 1.6 turbo petrol engine to the next generation Saab 9-3. Saab has had about one year to test and get to know this engine. Saab's former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson once said that it takes two years to find, test, install and validate a new engine. Can the use of the BMW engine in the current Saab 9-3 be a possibility?

According to Swedish business news E24, today's Dagens Industri article also says that the current Saab 9-3 will only be sold on the Chinese market. Furthermore, key employees will be offered a considerable raise in salaries if they return to Saab. And finally it says that the bid and the business plan are anchored with the labor unions.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Youngman to place billion bid on Saab

According to Reuters, Chinese Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile will next week place a bid for Saab in its entirety and the bid will be billions of SEK.

Reuters report that a source with knowledge of the process has confirmed that a bid is likely next week. But there is no information on how and if Youngman plan to continue producing Saab cars under GM licenses.

To Swedish Radio GM spokesman James Cain however said that current GM is not discussing technology licenses with any parties.

"We are not in discussion with anyone," James Can said to P4 Väst.

But Youngman might be planning something else. From TTELA today we learned that Youngman might be planning to manufacture a Lotus car in the Trollhättan factory.

"Youngman has a plan to produce the next Saab 9-3, producing a new Lotus in the Saab factory and develop the Phoenix technology. This should be considered seriously," Lars Holmqvist, CEO of the European Association of Automotive Suppliers Clepa told TTELA.

But as reported earlier today, the technology consultancy company Semcon has placed a bid for parts of the Saab development equipment. And the fear is that the bankruptcy administrators have or will accept this bid and thereby start the shattering of Saab.

Reuters' sources said that the administrators are preparing to sell parts of Saab's business to Semcon. And that would leave little for a buyer interested in continuing to build cars.

"The big danger is that Semcon has agreed a deal with the administrators over large parts of Saab Automobile that would make it impossible for anyone to buy Saab as a whole," one source told Reuters.

But as reported on Tuesday, Hemfosa, which owns a large part of the Saab Property company, is reluctant to renting their buildings out to Semcon at this point, possibly because Hemfosa wants to wait and see if someone is willing to buy the entire Saab operations. And Hemfosa's reluctancy will hopefully stop any deal with Semcon for the time being.

Yesterday it was revealed that the bankruptcy administrators have turned down an invitation to travel to China and meet Youngman and get a presentation of their plans. Someone who have not turned down such an invitation, are Trollhättan City manager Annika Wennerblom and the region's development director Bertil Törsäter. This afternoon they departed to China with a delegation which also includes representatives from the suppliers and the labor unions, and possibly also from the Ministry of Enterprises.

On Thursday the plan is to visit two of Youngman's factories, according to Christer Palm, who is chairman of the Swedish suppliers association FKG and board member of the European Association of Automotive Suppliers CLEPA.

On Friday they will meet the management of Youngman.

"I consider this a way for Youngman to put pressure on the administrators to speed up the process. It is a pity that the administrators are not coming, but the journey itself may still speed them up," said Christer Palm to TTELA.

Despite General Motors' resistance, Christer Palm believes that there are possibilities for Youngman.

"They can build the current Saab 9-3 and also start producing other cars at the Trollhättan factory until the new platform is fully developed."

Semcon bid for Saab's test equipment

Technology consultancy firm Semcon now confirms that it has placed a bid for parts of Saab's test equipment. The company is also looking into other assets that it may be interested in bidding on.

"We received an inquiry from the administrators if we were interested and we said yes. They have been presented our conditions and we have reasoned back and forth," said Kjell Nilsson, CEO of Semcon, to Dagens Industri.

As reported yesterday, Hemfosa, which owns a large part of the Saab Property company, is reluctant to rent their buildings to Semcon at this point, possibly because Hemfosa wants to wait and see if someone is willing to buy the entire Saab operations. And Hemfosa's reluctancy will hopefully stop any deal with Semcon for the time being.

But the bidding for parts of the Saab bankruptcy estate has started, and if someone is to buy the entire Saab business, then it needs to happen fast.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Youngman push to buy entire Saab as administrators stall

According to Swedish Dagens Industri, Chinese Youngman is pushing to speed up the negotiations to buy Saab in its entirety. But the bankruptcy administrators are reported to stall.

Chinese Youngman was the first party to announce its interest to buy Saab after the bankruptcy December 19th. And the company has said that it wants all of Saab, including the employees. In the beginning of January the employees received a letter with a notice of termination of employment at Saab and local newspaper TTELA reports that on Thursday this week will be the last day at Saab for most of the employees. Their notice period will however last a few months, but they are of course free to take new employment in the mean time. For any bidder which also wants the employees, time is starting to run out.

It is unknown why the administrators are stalling the negotiations with Youngman, but the news upset both the CEO of the Swedish association of automotive suppliers, FKG, as well as CEO of CLEPA, the European Association of Automotive Suppliers.

"If there is an interested party which wants to act now and make an offer for the entire Saab business including the factory, then surely the administrators must sit down and discuss with them", said Fredrik Sidahl, CEO of FKG to DI.

Sidahl also expressed criticism of the administrators' choice to turn down an invitation to travel to China and discuss an offer from Youngman and hear the plans.

CEO of CLEPA, Lars Holmqvist, is upset that the administrators ignore the suppliers.

"The bankruptcy estate is as a matter of fact SEK 1.4 billion in debt to the suppliers," Holmqvist said to DI.

Holmqvist stressed that it is only Youngman which can make an offer within the next few weeks. All others will need months. At the same time the Saab bankruptcy estate needs cash to operate.

Dagens Industri also reports that consultancy firm Semcon has expressed interest in buying the assets Saab used in its technology develoment. But this has so far been stopped by Hemfosa which owns the buildings where this equipment is located. Buildings Semcon would require. In other words, it looks that Hemfosa is looking for another solution for its building, possibly continued activity for Saab under a new owner?

Monday, January 16, 2012

New Saab cars NOT going to crusher

It seems that AutoCar started a rumer this weekend that is not true. According to Swedish Aftonbladet, no new Saab cars are going to the crusher. But they are dismantling cars that were under maufacturing and not completed when Saab filed for bankruptcy or complete cars that never made it out of the factory before the bankruptcy.

These cars are being dismantled into spare parts to serve the fairly small population of new Saab 9-5 (about 10.000 cars) that was sold in 2010 and 2011.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

100 new Saabs going to crusher

British AutoCar reports that 100 brand new Saabs are on the way to the crusher. These are cars that was completed before Saab filed for bankruptcy. Among the cars are pre-production examples of the Saab 9-5 SportCombi, some Mexican built Saab 9-4Xs and some Saab 9-5 Sedans.

According to AutoCar, one single Saab 9-5 SportCombi will be preserved, possibly for the Saab car museum. But as reported yesterday, it is still unclear if the museum will be saved.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Saab museum being put up for sale

The cars in the Saab car museum are now put up for sale. People and parties interested in buying one or more of the cars or other exhibition items are invited to make bids up until January 20th.

Just a few days ago it was reported that Innovatum in Trollhättan was in the process of buying the car collection to save the museum from being shattered. To TTELA Tore Helmersson of Innovatum says that the reason the cars now are being put up for sale is due to the procedures that needs to be following under a bankruptcy.

"There is no drama, they are just going by the formalities which they are supposed to in a situation like this. I had a hunch that they would announce this," Helmersson says.

"This does not change our wish of taking over and running the museum. It is a matter of negotiation and we have been clear on that," he continued.

In other words, Innovatum and Tore Helmersson still seem confident that they will succeed in acquiring the Saab car museum.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chinese BAIC can stop current Saab 9-3 from production

This sounds like something from a bad soap opera...

TTELA reports that Chinese Beijing Automotive (BAIC), which in 2009 bought the right to the old Saab 9-5 and the pre-2006 Saab 9-3, can now stop a production restart of the current Saab 9-3.

At the moment there is no further information on why BAIC needs to approve a restart of the Saab 9-3 production, but one can assume that the agreement from 2009, when BAIC bought the rights to the Saab 9-3 technology, says that no one other than BAIC and Spyker-Saab are allowed to produce the car. And so if some else other than Spyker takes ownership of Saab, an approval from BAIC is needed.

If this is true, then any company interested in acquiring Saab and continue producing Saab cars needs the approval from at least General Motors (to get access to the Saab 9-5 and 9-4X technology and partly Saab 9-3 technology), the aerospace and defense company Saab AB (to be allowed to use the brand name Saab and the Gripen logo) and BAIC (to be allowed to produce the Saab 9-3).

In other words, the glimmer of hope for a happen ending for Saab is seriously starting to fade.

Little bit of everything

Here is a wrap up of Saab related news the last two days.

Turkish investment company Brighwell Holdings with spokesman Zamier Ahmed says to Swedish Radio P4 Väst that they believe in a positive outcome concerning the talks they say they are conducting with the Saab bankruptcy administrators.

"We are in close contact with the bankruptcy administrators and we hope to meet them very soon. We are very optimistic, because we are intested in all of Saab and not just smaller parts of the company," Zamier Ahmed said to P4 Väst.

According to Ahmed, Brightwell can act quickly, but he sees some challenges concerning how quick the administrators can do their job and how much time it will take until Brightwell is satisfied with the technical, legal and financial parts of a deal.

"If we are satisfied, we are in a position to act quickly."

On Monday this weeek the administrators requested the District Court of Vänersborg to appoint a third administrator, Kent Hägglund who is expert on legal issues regarding brand names. Yesterday the Swedish Enforcement Authority, which is the supervising authority of bankruptcies, said it had no objections to Hägglund becoming a third administrator. It is up to the court to decide whether he becomes administrator or not.

Okey, so over to other Saab stuff.

BBC reports that yesterday there was a fire at Bond Street Saab of Leicester. Several cars have been damaged. The fire seems to have started in the workshop and then filled the showroom with smoke.

It is always sad to see damaged Saabs...

Over to something more positive.

Swedish rally and rallycross legend and Saab legend Per Eklund has teamed up with 2011 MSA British RallyCross Vice-Champion Andy Scott. They have announced an exciting new racing partnership to mount their USA assault on the 2012 Global RallyCross Championship.

The Global RallyCross Championship is a new sport which has attracted such motorsport personalities as Ken Block and Marcus Grönholm.

The Scott-Eklund team will enter the Unlimited class for a seven-round series, two of which will be held at the world-famous Summer X Games. They will enter with two four wheel drive Saab 9-3s, which will feature a two-litre turbo engine built by Trollspeed, transmission supplied by Sellholm and Öhlins suspension. A real Swedish Saab that is.

And finally, we have gotten reports that Saab legend Jan Åke Jonsson has gotten a new job. Yesterday it was announced that he will be Chairman of the board of the holding company Polstiernan Industri AB. The Polstiernan Industri group work with steel and aluminium products.

It's good to see Jan Åke back out in the business world. He certainly must have lots to offer.

And I almost forgot, here is the new Saab 9-18 out on the road doing a test drive:

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Youngman wants Saab in its entirety

After three weeks of talks, discussions and due diligence, Chinese Youngman now confirms to local Trollhättan newspaper TTELA that the company wants all of Saab.

Earlier reports have said that Youngman was returning to Sweden shortly to pick up the talks with the administrators where they left off before Christmas. But now Youngman's spokesman and legal advisor in Sweden Johan Nylén tells TTELA that Youngman has already been in Sweden.

"The fact is that they have already been here and left," Nylén said.

Nylén would however not say what had come out of Youngman's latest visit to Sweden.

"The negotiations are at a sensitive stage, but we keep working and our serious interest of Saab in its entirety remains."

When asked if this means that Youngman wants to keep Saab in Trollhättan for at least the near future, Nylén said: "Yes, that is our plan at this time."

In other words, both Chinese Youngman and Turkish Brightwell Holdings, which has also confirmed its interest in acquiring Saab, say that they will keep the Saab production in Trollhättan.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Labor union not to request new administrators

This weekend it was reported that the labor unions at Saab would request that the bankruptcy administrators be replaced. But now the unions say that they accept the administrators.

Union lawyer Darko Davidovic confirmed to Dagens Industri that the unions have discussed requesting new administrators, but after a meeting today the unions have decided not to take action.

"If we were to make an appeal [today] was the last chance. So we said that we had to sit down and decide if we could do it or not," Davidovic said.

After today's event when the administrators applied for an extra administrator, the unions have decided to meet the administrators on Thursday and together decide the framework for a negotiation.

"It's been three weeks with these bankruptcy administrators and if we were to appeal and get them replaced at the end of the week, one month would have passed. Then we would risk that a sale would not go through and we do not want to do that," Darko Davidovic said.

At Thursday's meeting the talks will focus on how negotiations will take place and how information shall be spread.

"We have said that we will give them a chance to show us that they can take care of this. If they can't, then we will turn to the district court. If that happens we have at least given them a chance to get this to work," Davidovic said.

Bankruptcy administrators request help

As reported yesterday, several stakeholders are displeased with the work of the Saab bankruptcy administrators. Now the administrators themselves request help.

In an application to the court earlier today, the administrators Hans L. Bergqvist and Anne-Marie Pouteaux ask that the court appoint Kent Hägglund as an additional administrator. Reason being that there is a risk of conflict of interest concerning the Saab brand name. Kent Hägglund is an expert with many years experience handling legal issues concerning brand names.

According to Swedish news agency TT, administrator Hans L. Bergqvist has earlier represented the aerospace and defense company Saab AB. And since Saab Automobile's use of the brand name SAAB and the Gripen logo is regulated by an agreement between Saab Automobile AB and Saab AB, there is now risk of conflict of interest.

"Among other things, it has concerned the brand and its use," Anders Blom, brand manager at Saab AB, said to TT when commenting Bergqvist's work for Saab AB.

"We have therefore made the administrators aware that there could be a risk of a conflict of interest," Blom continued.

It is uknown if Saab AB will allow Saab Automobile continued use of the brand name Saab, but it will probably depend on if Saab Automobile is sold in its entirety and who the potential buyer is.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Labor unions and creditors want new bankruptcy administrators

Swedish Dagens Industri reports that tomorrow the labor unions at Saab and a collective of the creditors will send a request to the Vänersborg District Court that the court replaces the two bankruptcy administrators.

Several independent sources tell DI that the administrators have shown "great lack of knowledge and have not understood the complexity of Saab Automobile's business."

Among other things, the recording of the bankruptcy estate has not been completed yet, which makes it impossible for the administrators to go into negotiations with the parties interested in acquiring the estate.

So far both Chinese Youngman and Turkish Brightwell Holdings have announced that they are interested in acquiring Saab. Also Indian Mahindra & Mahindra is most likely a third party interested. Also Swedish parties have shown interest, but according to DI's sources these parties are "fortune hunters".

The problem now is time, and if it is a fact that lack of knowledge from the administrators delays negotiations with interested parties, then this is a big problem. Sources say that the money in the bankruptcy estate will only cover ten more days of work and thereafter the administrators may be forced to sell assets from the estate to cover further work.

The asset first at hand is probably the remaining shares in the Saab property company which owns the Trollhättan manufacturing plant among other things. In June 2011 Hemfose bought 51 percent of the shares in the company for SEK 300 million, and now the administrators may be forced to sell the remaining 49 percent for only SEK 25 million to raise more money.

Youngman offer includes continued production in Trollhättan

When Saab filed for bankruptcy on December 19th, Chinese Youngman was the first company to express interest in buying the Saab bankruptcy estate. To Swedish news agency TT, CEO of Youngman Automotive Rachel Pang, says that the proposal they presented to the bankruptcy administrators before Christmas includes continued production in Trollhättan.

"With our proposal we intend to keep the production in Trollhättan. Simultaneously we will also have manufacturing facilities in China," Rachel Pang told TT according to TTELA.

Pang also emphasized that Youngman believes in the Saab brand.

"Our business is about building Saab models. We want to keep the brand Saab."

Earlier it has been reported that Youngman might want to continue producing the Saab 9-3 which mostly use Saab's own technology, and possible buy engines from Fiat.

Youngman and Rachel Pang will shortly be back in Sweden to meet the administrators.

Youngman will however probably have to compete with offers from Indian and Turkish companies, and also other Chinese companies. Earlier Chinese Dongfeng has been mentioned, but now even Chinese BAIC and SAIC are mentioned to be interested in the Saab assets. We also know that Turkish Brightwell Holdings is interested in acquiring Saab.

To just-auto Brightwell Holdings partner Zamier Ahmed said that Brightwell is interested in Saab in its entirety, but that it could move a substantial part of the Swedish manufacturer's supply chain out of Europe, should its bid be accepted. The Turkish company claims that it has had "cordial discussions" with GM and that GM will not object to Saab continue using GM technology should Brightwell become owner of Saab. GM does however say that they are not currently in discussion with any parties concerning a continued supply of technology to Saab.

Another hard competitor for the Saab assets may be Indian Mahindra & Mahindra. The company's vice-chairman and managing director Anand Mahindra said to The Economic Times India that they would not comment on any rumors that they are interested in Saab, but they are open to acquisitions.

"We would not like to comment on speculations. We are, however, open to acquisitions. M&A has to be an enabler of our strategy. If the strategy is to be global and world-class, we should look at both organic and inorganic ways. We are eyeing acquisitions in the automotive side."

Even though Saab is a fairly unknown brand in India, the name Saab could actually be a great brand name in the Indian market. Here is what IBNLive India writes about the name Saab:

"Saab is an Urdu word with terrific connotations in South Asia. It’s a term of endearment that crops up often in conversations. Bhai Saab, Major Saab, Laat Saab and Memsaab are commonly used appellations. To millions of Hindustanis, the expression ‘Saala main toh Saab ban gaya’ means reaching a stratospheric social status-almost on par with a knighthood. Therefore, milking the linguistic potential of Saab is clearly the roadmap for the struggling brand."

So get ready for another week of the Saab bankruptcy saga!

Friday, January 6, 2012

GM on hunt after Saab owners

First General Motors killed Saab, now GM is after the Saab owners.

According to Jalopnik, GM sent a memo to its dealerships earlier this week where GM announces lousy incentives to try to lure the Saab owners to the bland GM brands. Here is what Jalopnik reports that the memo says:

Beginning January 4, 2012 and continuing through February 29, 2012, select General Motors SAAB customers are eligible for the SAAB Private Offer off the purchase or lease of new vehicles. Refer to program 12-40CR for official guidelines and vehicle eligibility.
SAAB Private Offer:
• $250 Chevy Equinox, Sonic, & Volt, GMC Terrain, & Buick Verano
• $500 all other Buick, Chevy and GMC vehicles
• $1,000 all Cadillacs, Chevy Corvette, Avalanche, Silverado, and GMC Sierra

Like killing Saab was not enough? What will GM's next move be? Buying Saab's Phoenix technology and scrap it?

Final Saab car produced or not?

Earlier this week there were some reports that the production at Saab would resume in order to finish approx. 100 cars that are on the production line in Trollhättan. But now it seems these reports might have been based on assumptions rather than verified information.

According to AutoCar, the workers' unions have set their foot down and won't allow their members to return the factory to finish these cars. But discussions between the unions and the bankruptcy administrators are ongoing. In other words, at the moment noone knows if the last Saab has been made or not.

If they can reach an agreement where the workers return to finish these 100 cars, these could become highly sought after cars for collectors and Saab enthusiasts.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chinese Youngman said to be administrators first choice

Swedish business news site Dagens Industri reports that Chinese Youngman is the bankruptcy administators first choice as buyers of Saab.

Representatives from Chinese Youngman are expected back in Sweden shortly to continue discussions with the bankruptcy administrators concerning a possible acquisition of Saab. The company has already invested at least EUR 70 million in Saab, which has given the company among other things rights to part of the newly developed Saab future vehicle technology. Now Youngman wants the rest as well.

According to DI's sources, the administrators have chosen to negotiate with Youngman with the goal of selling all of Saab. The problem is time. On January 19th it will be one month since Saab filed for bankruptcy and as time passes both employees, suppliers and customers will disappear. If the negotiations with Youngman have not proven sucessfull within January 19th, the assets of Saab might be sold in pieces.

The management of Saab has according to DI offered the administrators to continue working until January 20th, helping with sorting out the GM technology licenses and deals with Saab.

One obvious problem with selling Saab to Youngman is General Motors annoucement that it will not supply Saab with technology should the company become Chinese owned. Earlier it has been said that Youngman hopes to at least be able to produce the current Saab 9-3, which utilises mostly technology owned by Saab, awaiting the next generation of Saab vehicles based on Saab's future Phoenix platform.

The Turkish company Brightwell Holdins, which has made it clear that it wants to buy all of Saab, said yesterday that GM would be positive to a deal where the Turkish company buys Saab. Which would of course seem to make Brightwell a good match. But so far GM has not been in discussion with any parties about supplying GM technology to Saab in the future.

"We have been contacted by many parties interested in buying the Saab assets and getting access to GM's technology, but we are not in discussion with any of them," GM spokesman James Cain told Swedish Radio.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Lay offs begin

The lay off of the employees of Saab has now been started. The coming week or two all employees will receive a registered letter with the notice of termination.

Any company which are interested in acquiring all of Saab needs to hurry up if they want the employees also!

Turkish Brightwell says GM will be positive to a deal

Updated with more info from Dagens Industri

Last week it was revealed that the Turkish company interested in buying Saab or parts of Saab is Brightwell Holdings. Now Swedish TTELA has had a talk with Zamier Ahmed, who is member of the board of Brightwell.

Zamier Ahmed told TTELA that more than six months on behalf of Brightwell Holdings he has followed the Saab saga. The reason is that the environmental interested company would like to get hold of the Saab brand name and Saab's advanced technology.

"The potential of the technology from an environmental perspective matches our policy very well," said Ahmed to TTELA.

At the moment Brightwell is waiting to hear from the bankruptcy administrators as to when a meeting can take place. Then Brightwell hopes to find out exactly how much of Saab the administrators want to keep in Trollhättan and also exactly what is up for sale.

 "We're interested in all of Saab, not just small parts like the brand name. We understand fully the Saab brand's heritage, the history of the company and the high quality of the products," Ahmed told Dagens Industri.

Ahmed said that they want to keep production in Trollhättan, but could not say to what degree.

"We definitely want to keep production in Trollhättan, but we need to look at exactly how much. But we will not rule out that all will be kept there," Ahmed continued.

 "We need more knowledge about the structure of the company before we can answer that [how much of the production that will be kept in Trollhättan]. We may need to produce some parts of the products on other locations to save costs."

Brightwell has during the past six months been in contact with Victor Muller, with the hope of taking a share or acquiring Saab, but Muller chose the Chinese investors.

"I've also been in contact with GM during this process and they have been very positive to us. Our government also supports this fully. We believe that Saab can survive and with the right leadership have a bright future."

Brightwell has previous experience from the automotive industry when they in 2010 acquired a European electric car, and ongoing negotiations with an American car manufacturer.

"I can not mention their names yet."

A quick Google search revealed that Brightwell is very much involved in environmental investments. According to their homepage, they have invested in SynergEthic SA, which develops a two-seater electric vehicle of small width, providing a pragmatic and innovative answer to traffic issues in urban areas. Furthermore, according to Olecars, Brightwell in November last year signed a declaration of intent to invest in the French company Heuliez Electric with the intent to build a future hybrid car or electric field through the expertise of Heuliez. Brightwell is also part owner of Turkish GreenWay solar energy company.

My previous doubt towards the Turks is starting to fade...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Outside Saab Support Meetings

Since there is not really any big news today, I would like to draw your attention to Outside Saab. Outside Saab is an initiative to arrange Saab meetings all around the world on January 14th and 15th. The purpose is to show support for Saab. So please visit Outside Saab and check the plans for your country.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Saab sales in December 2011

If the Saab brand is not miraculously saved, then I guess this will be the last update on sales of new Saab cars.

According to Bil Sweden, there were 18 new Saab cars registered in Sweden in December, compared to 1,111 cars in December of 2010. For the year 2011 as a whole, 3,482 new Saabs have been registered in Sweden, compared to 8,683 the previous year.

According to Automotive News, 270 new Saab cars were sold in the USA in December 2011, compared to 1,074 the previous year. For 2011 as a whole, 5,610 Saabs were sold, up 3 percent from 5,446 in 2010.

According to SMMT, there were 8 new Saabs registered in the UK in December, compared to 750 in December 2010. For the year as a whole, 4,138 new Saabs were registered, compared to 5,898 the previous year.



New Year, new possibilities

Another year and another work week. Now that both the Christmas and New Year celebrations are over, we can expect more intensive work on selling the assets in the Saab bankruptcy estate. And hopefully a deal to sell the whole group of Saab companies can be reached.

So far the following companies seem to be in the race to buy parts of Saab or the whole business: From China Youngman and Dongfeng, from Turkey Brightwell Holdings and from India Mahindra & Mahindra.

All seem to be strong competitor. We know that Youngman got a head start since the company knows Saab and Saab's assets well after negotiating with Saab since January 2011.

But I wouldn't be surprised if many Saab fans hope that the huge Indian company Mahindra & Mahindra will be interested in acquiring all of Saab and continue the operations in Sweden. But during Christmas we got the disturbing news that the bankruptcy administrators had canceled a meeting with M&M because their representative in Sweden was Lars Carlström. Carlström was previously spokesman and representative of the Russian businessman Vladimir Antonov who is under the suspicions of fraud. But to Swedish newspaper GT the bankruptcy administrator Hans Bergqvist says that they are aware that the Indian company is a large company, and they are open to discussions:

"I know that it is a large and reliable company and we are not closing any doors," administrator Bergqvist said to GT.

And by saying that Bergqvist also more or less confirmed that the Indian company is Mahindra & Mahindra.