Saab comments on recent media

Earlier today we saw media headlines about raised remuneration to members of the Swedish Automobile supervisory board. These reports contain a number of factual flaws.

Firstly, the reports claiming that Mr Hugenholtz is the only person remaining on the supervisory board of Swedish Automobile are not correct. The three members (Hugenholtz, La Noce and Roepers) are all in place and continue working to secure the future of Saab Automobile.

Secondly, when Spyker Cars NV (now Swedish Automobile, SWAN) acquired Saab Automobile AB, the company became much larger and the responsibilities of the board members increased significantly. Because of this, and as there was already an imbalance in fees between various members of the board, the issue was on the agenda for the Annual General Meeting on May 19 this year. At that meeting, a decision was taken to regulate the fees to make them more in line with each other and also to adjust them to reflect the extended responsibilities caused by the acquisition of Saab. These kinds of fees are paid retroactively for the work done since Saab was acquired by Spyker (now Swan).

It is important to note that remuneration decisions of this kind can only be taken with the support of a majority of shareholders and timing for the Annual General Meeting for May 2011 was set well in advance of the meeting taking place.

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  1. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.  An organization can’t have good leadership without good pay, but everyone begrudges the pay in the difficult times when you need good leadership more than ever.

    This is a criticism that I’ll never fully understand.  It’s certainly driven by the egalitarian “labor union” mindset in this country. Sweden is certainly different, so I’ll defer to you on that.

    1. The problem right now is that people have this slightly odd notion that good leadership must by definition result in a company avoiding the ‘difficult times’.

      In the real world, it just isn’t necessarily like that.

  2. So when will more details about The Deal be released? We are rooting for you Saab! I check the Saab news feed every morning when I get to work and I must say that the news is gut wrenching. I am hoping for the best.

    1. As I understood it, Swade’s expression “The Deal” didn’t refer to any particular deal being negotiated, but was used as a general term for any deal that materializes and is big enough to take Saab through the short-term problems into the much brighter future beyond. (But please correct me if I’m wrong, Swade!) While I have no doubt whatsoever that work is ongoing day and night to reach such a deal, Swade’s post should therefore not be taken as an indication that any particular agreement is in the final stages of negotiation right now.

      Or to express it in simpler terms: Don’t hold your breath!

      1. I understand what you are saying. I perhaps erroneously correlated Swade’s mention of The Deal with rumors in the media that Saab was in discussion with a US investor. Officials at Saab have all replied with “no comment” to inquiries by the media about a US investor.

        Short term liquidity problems occur in many businesses especially in a downward economic cycle.

        I hope that if Saab is forced into receivership by the Swedish collector that someone will buy the rights to manufacture the cars, much like the acquisitions of Land Rover and Jaguar.

  3. It must be quite frustrating having to write this kind of posts! I just hate this mess!
    I`m longing badly to start discussing the CARS instead!
    Keep strong Swade!

    1. It is indeed.  The press were wrong with this issue and they might come out and print corrections of some sort, but the damage has been done and there’s seemingly no downside for them anyway.

  4. Although the pay raise may have been warranted, you must admit that the timing was terrible.  Perception is a key aspect of any company and this hurts the custormer perception of Saab.  Unfortunately, all of the media is jumping on this story even with the incorrect information.  This story will perpetuate itself and will really hurt Saab.  I can’t wait to see the spin from TTAC.  It’s going to get uglier. 

    1. Curt, it’s my understanding that a decision like that can only be taken at an AGM with the approval of shareholders, which is what happened.  The timing of the AGM may have been unfortunate, but it’s usually set well in advance, and I can’t see how Mr Hugenholtz would have stayed for another 12 months at 15K per year (which has its own special irony as he’s making efforts to govern a company that’s paying it’s workers when a number of them aren’t working).

      1. SWADE, I certainly wasn’t challenging the rationale for giving the raises.  And I also understand that the AGM was a requirement as well as the approval of the stakeholders.  All I’m saying is that the perception of the timing of the raises is what’s important.  With Saab production at a standstill at that time, it just appears to the press and now that readers that the supervisory board was greedy.  I’m wondering if this was considered when the raises were voted for.  SWAN had to know that the press would be salivating at the prospect of reporting the news of the raises.  I personally have no issues with the decision.  I’m just saying that the perception of impropriety is hurting Saab. 

        1. I understand, Curt, and I agree the timing doesn’t look good on the surface.  The press didn’t make a big deal out of it back in May when it happened, but as you’ve seen, they’ve chosen a more vulnerable time and a sensational statistic to bring the story to light now.

          Nothing we can do but put the corrections out there and then keep working.

  5. The latest media storm about the remuneration just show how cynical the media coverage of Saab is. Mr Hugenholtz got a raise from SEK 147,150 to SEK 931,950. That’s a SEK 784,800 increase which equals EUR 90,000 or $ 130,000 or peanuts!

    And Jonas Fröberg at Svenska Dagbladet, who usually is a sensible writer, managed to call this increase plundering and he even compared it to a hypothetical situation where people are starving in Africa while the leadership of the United Nations World Food Programme are feasting on the food meant for the starving people. Fröberg just lost my respect.

    1. I don’t think he did his reputation any favours with that article.  I’ve met the guy once and he’s OK, but that article, the viscousness of it, was very disappointing.  I hope he’s happy with it.

      1. News media sell advertising these days, and they are paid less and less to do it.  Sometimes these folks get fed up and lash out or they are told to write something sensational to grab a few more readers that day.  I trust them less and less each day.

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