This ain’t Saab specific, yet it could have profound consequences for the little car brand we know and love. Consequences that some will welcome, whilst others will fear.
Jerry York doesn’t have a seat on the GM board……yet. He’s Kirk Kerkorian’s ‘advisor’ and he’s just given a speech to the Society of Automotive Analysts (Jan 10). Automotive News have a full transcript of the speech that you can read by clicking here.
In short, the bit that effects us as Saab owners is the unsurprising plan to sell Saab, as York and his boss, Kerkorian, see it as a non-core asset of GM’s. York observes that GM still has a mountain of cash, therefore having the resources to dig itself out providing management do five things, preferably within the next 1,000 days – after which he forecasts GM’s cash will burn out (that’s $24 million a day, folks):
- Be realistic about market share and revenue
- Cull the lineup. Offer fewer, better focused offerings.
- Take a ‘clean sheet’ approach to the business, no sacred cows (even in India?)
- Make the tough decisions (which I thought would have been involved in 2 and 3)
- Generate a sense of purpose within the business
York cites his previous experiences at IBM and Chrysler and draws several similarities between those situations and GM’s.
When he finally gets to the specifics of addressing Saab, York is brutally brief:
Saab: Why does GM still own Saab? Forthy thousand units per year in the US. Less than 150 thousand units per year on a worldwide basis. Unless what I see in the press is wrong, it has pretty much been a money loser. So why not get rid of it?
That’s it. Saab’s future in a nutshell if Kirk Kerkorian and Jerry York have their way. And they’ve got a fair bit of weight to throw behind it. KK currently owns 7.8% of GM even though he recently sold 12 million shares for tax reasons. He’s indicated already that he plans to buy those 12 million shares back, and has even said that he’s interested in another 12 million if the circumstances line up how he thinks they should.
So, the jury’s still out on this, but you get the feeling that the verdict is only a long lunch break away. GM’s been talking Saab up quite a bit lately and it’s been pretty encouraging. Was it truthful or a fattening of the lamb prior to selling?
Time will tell.
please, please, if someone’s going to buy Saab – let it be Porsche!!!