Waiting…..

I apologise if the lack of writing here today has been a cause for concern. Simply put, there was nothing I could say. I had my own thoughts, of course, but they were best left unpublished, especially on an official site.

For those who haven’t caught up with the news…..

Back when our Chinese partners made a low offer to purchase 100% of our operations, Victor Muller suggested that it would trigger a change of control clause that GM and other partners would have difficulty with. The more recent, higher offer, did actually trigger that clause, meaning that GM had to give their blessing to the deal. As of yesterday, GM declared that they do indeed have difficulty with it.

“Although General Motors is open to the continued supply of powertrains and other components to Saab under appropriate terms and conditions, GM will not agree to the continuation of the existing technology licenses or the continued supply of 9-4X vehicles to Saab following the proposed change in ownership as it would not be in the best interests of GM shareholders,”

So that’s where we’re at right now.

Various parties sit at tables and try to find a solution that everyone can live with. Again, there’s no more that can be said about it right now because it’s still in progress.

The ramifications are quite significant, of course, so we hope that the parties to the discussions take part in good faith and with a long-term view.

There’s no reason why Saab Automobile has to succumb to the circumstances that have plagued it this year. As I mentioned a few days ago, Ford managed to get a similar deal done to give Volvo a future. I think it can be done here, too. We still have a lot of very good reasons to be here in this industry. If there is goodwill in the room, there will be a way to work this out with an agreement that will work for all concerned.

Until then, we stay tuned.

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23 Comments

  1. I thought Spyker had a 5 year plan after the bought Saab from GM? DId Saab run out of money already? So the chinese if they are the new owners can turn around Saab? Did i miss something  here?

  2. Comments on automotive message boards are fun to read today.

    If I had $5 for every comment declaring Saab’s demise during the last two years, I’d have enough for a new 9-5. I’m at the point now where anyone who pompously claims the end of Saab just gets a snicker out of me.
    My gut feeling is that this is yet another bump in a long road. I’m beginning to think this company has some supernatural force keeping it alive. Let’s just hope it’s benevolent. =s

    1. It is also the Chinese style at blame too. Countries and companies would not be so wary were it not for China’s penchant for industrial espionage. Germany’s Siemens corp. could offer us numerous reasons why GM is being smart.

      That being said, it wasn’t China who ran Saab into the ground.

  3. I wish it were otherwise, but I’m not surprised at GM’s initial reaction.  China is one of their focus growth markets at present and the brand that they’re using to penetrate China is Buick.  If you look at what they’ve been doing in the past few years to vitalize that brand, you’ll see that they’re moving it closer to what Saab is (e.g., the new Regal GS).  A Chinese-owned and distributed Saab, enabled by GM intellectual property, would seem to GM like shooting themselves in the foot. 
    I’m sure that the restrictions GM placed on Saab (i.e., limiting the HP allowed to be produced by a Saab 2.0L engine) were intended to limit Saab’s ability to compete with the direction they were planning to take Buick.
    I’m hoping that all parties find a way through this labyrinth, but it’s been a long time between truly hopeful news reports about Saab.

  4. GM does still not unterstand the market and the customers. FORD did and was very succesfull in selling Volvo to a Chinese company. Do not understand GM (think GM does not understand itself).

    1. GM understands more than you, me or just about anyone reading this blog.  They went from bankruptcy protection to huge profits in the span of two years.  They’ve reclaimed the top spot as the world’s largest automaker.  They make cars on five continents.  They understand, OK?

      With that said, they may not understand all of the nuances of the Saab deal, but they don’t have to.  GM sees that the Chinese will have access to the technology that’s ‘off limits’ and they look no further, they say ‘no’.  Saab and VM signed that deal willingly when VM bought Saab.  They gave GM the ability to say ‘no’.  

      1. Oh my God—-you credit General Motors for going from bankruptcy protection to profits?  Hey Egg, you might as well credit ME and millions of other taxpayers who were fleeced by Obama to bail General Motors out and fork over a big share of it to the greedy UAW.  Frankly, I’ve owned countless GM products (I still own three of them, including an ’04 Saab, a Chevy and a Buick).  If they succeed in killing Saab, I will never buy another GM product and I will work tirelessly, on the internet and otherwise—to convince THE WORLD not to buy GM and also convince everyone to speak out and persuade others to ignore GM products when they go to buy a car.  GM was propped up with millions upon millions of tax dollars.  There was no genius behind their turnaround—-just a bully on Pennsylvania Avenue and a bunch of failed executives with their hands out.   

        1. No, Angelo, you’re not entirely correct.  GM was in the midst of a product based turnaround *before* they were “bailed out” and they deserve some credit.  Cadillac went from being a nursing home special to a valid upscale competitor with their own style and performance cred in less than a decade, Buick was brought back worldwide from the near-dead, Chevy is succeeding as a global value brand, and GMC, uh, well, GMC still makes no sense.  But most importantly, the products are no longer rolling tone-deaf, unreliable heaps whose existence embarrasses the US.  That’s worth crediting…

          Getting out from under their huge legacy costs in the bankruptcy (their’s and the UAW’s faults), now their product based turnaround is yielding profits.  The taxpayer has been or is about to be paid back, hundreds of thousands of jobs were saved, and perhaps the US was prevented from being plunged into a new depression.  The auto bailout, by the way, was started by *GW Bush*, not Obama, who continued and expanded it.  Get your facts straight please.  

          Also, many Saab nuts have been begging Sweden to do a US style bailout of Saab which they’ve been refusing to do.  Many Swedes are embarrassed that their nation seems ready to watch their hard earned industrial capability go down the tubes, something that Korean, China, Germany, France and, yes, even our own US would not be ready to do.  If Saab fails, Angelo, don’t never buy another GM car…  Never buy another SWEDISH car, for in my mind, if Sweden lets Saab fail, generationally, that’s THEIR fault for all time…

          Actually, everything that Eggs says in his posts here are 100% correct in all regards, especially CvK looking like the world’s wisest businessman.  Boy, he called this 100%.

          1. If the product based turnaround were working, GM would have been able to dig themselves out of the hole, as Ford did.  Please don’t try to argue that General Motors was being managed well at any time in the last 30 years.  Yes, they had some great products—but they were mismanaged.  If they had competent leadership, we wouldn’t be here debating it.  Also, regarding Sweden/Saab and USA/GM—-Sweden and the U.S.A. are completely different in terms of tax structures, labor laws, government, etc.:  Arguing that our Presidents shouldn’t have bailed out GM doesn’t automatically mean that Sweden’s government shouldn’t be involved with trying to help Saab.  Two different situations might mean two different approaches.     

          2. Without a little thing called the recession, GM might very well have pulled out of their problems with product alone.  GM has indeed been miserably run, but there have always been (and continue to be) some talented people there who break through the tedium and get some increasingly good stuff to market.  

            I totally don’t get your US/Sweden argument.  Why should Sweden bail out Saab but the US shouldn’t have bailed out its makers?

            I am most certainly not confusing TARP and the auto bailout.  This is seriously easy for you to look up.  And, if you read, well, everything from insiders involved in the bailout, your idea that this was to protect the UAW is laughable, especially since the UAW got smacked.  Start your research here:http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1208/16740.html

            My favorite quote: “In explaining his decision Friday, Bush said holding back “would leave the next president to confront the demise of a major American industry in his first days of office.”

            Have fun.

        2. Ugh, the tea party taint and it’s pathological disregard for reality has spread to what has traditionally been a politically neutral blog.  How sad.  There are lots of smart people at the negotiating table, from SAAB, GM, PangDa, etc. Let’s assume positive intention and hope for a bright outcome.  I don’t think there’s much else SAAB fans can do right now….

  5. I certainly understand why GM would want to be protective of their technology. Honestly, I would probably do the same thing. However, Saab would not be in this position if GM had not started the liquidation process of Saab in January 2010. Saab’s plan was to be profitable next year, but the liquidation process slowed getting the factory up and running in the spring of 2010. GM should now show some flexibility with Saab management since the financial circumstances were largely created by GM during the final negotiations with Spyker. 

    My thoughts go out to our Saab friends in Trollhattan. As a dedicated Saab owner I have been on an emotional roller coaster for almost two years. However, Saab is not my livelihood and the anguish among Saab employees from Victor Muller on down must be very great. 

    We have already lost Steve Jobs. I hope we don’t lose Saab too within a month’s time. 

  6. To tag onto Ronnie’s thoughts, if I had $5 for every ‘nasty Americans’ comment that I read about Saab’s torturous path I’d have enough for a new 9-5.  

    The truth is that the Chinese don’t play fair and GM is not going to let them steal technology to use against them in China and elsewhere.
    If you think that’s a uniquely American issue, I invite you to read this article on the high-speed rail IP theft in China from companies like Siemens, Alstom and Kawasaki.  Siemens wouldn’t let the Chinese have their technology a second time.  Never.  At last check, Siemens is very, very GERMAN.  NOT American.This is NOT about GM being obstinate.  It’s about China being an economic and legal bully.GM is right to stand up to the Chinese.  Just because you want GM to say ‘yes’ doesn’t mean that GM is wrong to say ‘no’.  I think that Pang Da and Youngman will pillage Saab and leave it bereft of anything resembling the company we know and love.  Why?  Because they want to sell millions of cars.  To sell millions of cars, they can’t be well-crafted jewels of Swedish know-how.  Christian von Koenigsegg was absolutely right and he’s looking smarter every day — there wasn’t enough time in the bank account.  Now we need more time, and time costs money.

    I’m still very perplexed as to why a company that came this far seems to be such a hard sell to investors.  There is something hiding in the financials that made the Chinese nervous and scares off other investors.  

    1. Also remember that the old guys running the GM that owned Saab all got fired. Their all gone. The new guys don’t want to make the same mistakes. What Saab needs to do is sell cars, period. I’m still 100%Saab, but it makes it hard for me to talk to others about buying New Saabs if I’m not sure I can get my own car repaired. Four new 9-5s sit on a lot not more than 3 miles from me at this moment.

    2. Hey Eggs, there does not even need to be anything “hiding” in the financials. For sure the componentry and IP licenses from GM come at a great cost with not much room for profits unless sold at the infamously “high” list price Saab is known for. Likewise the 9-4X. There are also limitations on what Saab can do with said product. And, nobody of any note outside China has the money they would want to invest in such a proposition.

  7. It’s easy to directly compare Volvo being sold to Geely with Saab being sold to sold to Chinese interests, but the situation is rather different.  When Ford sold Volvo, it didn’t have a significant Chinese partner building cars with similar IP to that used in Volvos.  This is quite different with Saab.  If Youngman was to build the 9-5 in China for the Chinese market with this car bing distributed by Pang Da, it would incorporate much of the same IP as the Buicks being built by SAIC.  SAIC and GM have a joint venture in China and I’m sure that SAIC does not want another Chinese manufacturer building cars using the same GM IP it is using, even if the 9-5 was only to have a minimal effect on it’s Buick sales.  It’s logical that GM wants to appease it’s partner, and this is probably why GM never wanted to sell Saab to any Chinese buyer in the first place.  It also explains why even Opel isn’t allowed to start operating in China.  Getting around this and keeping SAIC happy will be a difficult thing.

    1. This is the sticking point. GM at best will require some relatively long-term financial compensatory deal, if it is to allow Youngman to use its IP in Saabs manufactured in China. If this is not on, then ChinaSaab will have to make a completely fresh start, either using the Phoenix platform, unless GM have some kind of stake in this as well, or starting from scratch. This could be highly desirable, but would it be financially viable?