D-Day?

It’s Monday here in Australia as I write this.

Later today, in Sweden, there will be a court hearing to determine whether Saab’s reorganisation should continue. To say there’s a lot hanging in the balance would be the understatement of the year.

Here’s the scenario, as seen from someone on the other side of the world and somewhat out of the loop*:

The outcome of that hearing will depend largely on the future plan that Saab has developed to carry the business forward. Details about that plan will no doubt be forthcoming at the time, but all indications are that it will hinge upon setting up the business in a compartmentalised way so as to separate current models built with GM’s intellectual property from future models developed in conjunction with our Chinese partners, Youngman.

The other (perhaps most) crucial element of today’s proceedings will be evidence of support shown by Youngman. The Jerry Maguire phrase “Show Me The Money” feels kind of appropriate here. November wages are already overdue and December wages are due only days from now. Swedish media reports in the last few hours indicate that there may be signs of nerves within Youngman, thanks primarily to statements made by our former parent.

Over the weekend, General Motors re-stated its intention to withhold support for any such deal. From our end, it is contended that GM’s support is not needed as the proposal will not change the ownership structure of Saab. Formal dealings with Youngman will be setup in another entity focused on new model development for the future. I don’t know if it’s the job of a judge in Vänersborg to sort that out, but I guess we’ll find out pretty soon.

I’m not normally one given to poking an angry bear in the ribs, but I’d like to reiterate something I wrote here on Inside Saab a while ago – Ford found a way to get a similar deal done for Volvo, and I’m sure they’re keen on protecting their interests in China, too. This deal can, and should, be done. No less a man than Keith Crain, the Editor-in-Chief of Automotive News agrees.

Is today D-Day? All indications point that way right now, but this story has had so many twists and turns that it would be a brave man who attached any level of conviction to his prediction.

This is such a great company. It must survive and I hope that common sense and goodwill prevails today, for the sake of everyone who has an interest in the outcome: Our employees, our suppliers, our dealers and distributors, and of course, our customers.

——

* Again, I have to express my own personal frustration at not being able to bring readers more information about this process. The shackles are necessary, even if they are ultimately self-defeating and incredibly frustrating.

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14 Comments

  1. Watching an episode of The Big Bang Theory, this rhetoric made me think of GM:Sheldon: “Congratulations Raj! Those are very cogent and reasonable conditions … I reject all of them.”Trouble is, GM acting this way is not funny at all, very sad indeed. :-(Pang Qingnian is a very brave and resourceful man, as is Victor Muller. I hope the two of them find a way to make this work.

  2. There are 2 Saabs in my garage tonight and there will be 2 Saabs in my garage tomorrow night. Hoping the best for Saab and Swade.

  3. Ford was always much kinder to Volvo than GM ever was to Saab.  It’s a great pity that Ford decided to buy Jaguar in the late eighties when it could have bought Saab.  This unfortunately made GM play “me too” and buy Saab so it could say it owned a premium European car manufacturer too.  And so began a bad cycle for Saab. Hopefully that cycle will be over soon?

    Unfortunately I have to say that GM totally sucks and I’m not talking about lollipops here.

  4. Although I think I’m as frustrated and irritated by GM’s actions, I can also understand where they’re coming from.

    Ford has a fairly small footprint in China. Although that’s probably not a good thing for them on a macro level, it also means that their concerns about Geely’s access to their IP is fairly limited as well. Although Changan, a large player in China, is Ford’s primary partner there, Ford’s actual market position is quite low. Further, Ford is far from being Changan’s most important partner. If anything, selling Volvo to Geely might actually have strengthened Ford’s position in China, especially in light of subsequent moves to really pursue a “One Ford” product policy in fact, versus the lip service given to such an idea over the last 20 years or so.

    On the other hand, much of GM’s growth (and profit) of late has come from China. GM is also, by far, SAIC’s largest partner. GM has far more at risk in China than Ford, so they understandably need to tread more carefully.

    1. IMO  What few cars SAAB may sell with or without GM’s  IP is very small beans to the China market and as in the 50/60’s a lot of the U.S. manufactures thought the  Asia market couldnt do it alone . China is a smart as the next guy so the IP will be there GM or not . GM is not doing well in any market at this time . Just my thoughts tho I do not  claim to have a clue as to why this sale is blocked but thats another enigma in the saga.   Thanks

      1. GM is actually doing quite well in China and the US right now.

        It’s not GM’s IP that’s the real issue. GM’s concern, as I see it, is keeping SAIC happy. SAIC is GM’s chosen dance partner in China and they are scared to even appear to do anything that might sour that relationship.

        As others have pointed out, Saab’s engineering talent is a nice thing to have, but it’s the brand, having history and not being Chinese, that has value to Chinese suitors.

        Aside from the fact that, today, Saab’s not a going concern without GM’s IP (no GM IP means no 9-4x, no 9-5 and no current 9-3), GM’s IP isn’t what the Chinese are interested in. That’s really the beauty of the current deal…not only does the structure avoid GM’s contractual thresholds, it also reflects what Youngman is interested in procuring.

  5. Hear , here , Steven and  Thank you kind sir , I somehow belive that bullies dont win ……..  but ya just cant tell about a bully with a lawyer with other agendas .    Dave

  6. Sounds like GM has no real self confidence, which sort of sums up the way they got into the position they are in, in general.

    It’s about time you “manned up” GM! Have some confidence that you can hold your own against a small car company. A bit of competition should only make you stronger.

  7. Swade:  While sadness is your emotion, right now, anger is mine.  I’ve posted on Facebook and will continue to extol:  General Motors is largely responsible for this.  No one who owns a Saab or who was a fan of Saab should ever patronize GM again.  And in fact, I will argue that GM is so unpredictable and in my opinion, unreasonable—-you are taking a big risk by buying any of their products.  Ask the people who owned Oldsmobile, Saturn, Pontiac, Hummer—-and now Saab cars—how it feels to be abandoned by the parent company who took your hard earned money.  I bought in good faith and expected support from the company I purchased from.  As a customer, GM screwed me.  I’m done with their garbage.  

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