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.