Spyker/Saab’s $3B lawsuit against GM in a reasonably large nutshell – according to me

It’s hard to call a 2,000+ word article a “nutshell” but it’s a lot less than the original at 7,000 words. If you want the one paragraph Swade-view nutshell, here it is:

Spyker/Saab claim that GM gave indications they were willing to accept a Chinese solution to Saab’s financial problems early in the piece. They even steered them towards it to some degree, only to perform what Spyker/Saab see as a game-changing backflip with GM’s 100% refusal to accept propositions made to them involving Youngman and Pang Da. GM’s attitude was so aggressively negative that it was THE factor that scared Youngman away from deal that should have been executable (one where there were built-in protections for GM’s interests) at the final hour.

The bigger nutshell is below.

There are 152 numbered points in the submission made by Spyker to the District Court in the Eastern District, in Michigan yesterday. These form the basis of Spyker’s lawsuit against General Motors following the bankruptcy of Saab Automobile in December 2011.

Of those 152 points, about 20 of them are crucial to the case, as I see it. The rest provide some color and context. Let’s have a look at the whole thing, section by section, figuring out the important parts as we go.

——

Parties (points 3 to 13)

The plaintiffs are Saab Automobile AB and Spyker Cars NV. The defendant is General Motors.

It’s not included in these points, but the lawsuit has been prepared by Spyker by agreement with Saab. Spyker has secured what it sees to be sufficient funding from an unnamed third party to see the suit through to conclusion and in an article on AFP, Victor Muller stated that Spyker would retain around 90% of the proceeds if they are successful (with a share going to the anonymous funder, of course).

Points 3 to 13 merely establish the corporate cast in this drama and their background in the ownership of Saab, which was established in 1947, purchased 50% by GM in 1990 and 100% in 2000 before being sold to Spyker in February 2010.

One important bit:

9. On February 23, 2010, Spyker finalized a deal with GM to purchase Saab. Through the transaction, Spyker contributed $74 million in cash, and the European Investment Bank provided a €400 million loan guaranteed by the Swedish government. As a result of the transaction, Spyker acquired a majority interest in Saab, and GM retained a minority interest through preferred shares valued in January 2010 at approximately $326 million. GM’s minority interest represented just 0.000005% of shareholder voting power.

——

Relevant non-parties (points 14 to 25)

These points introduce the individual persons that were most important in speaking for their companies during the period in question. Identities from Saab/Spyker, GM, Hawtai, Pang Da and Youngman are introduced here.

One important bit:

19. David Xu is a representative of Tempo Holding, a major Chinese automobile manufacturer, parts supplier, and investment company. During the March 2011 International Motor Show in Geneva, Switzerland, Messrs. Girsky and Muller met to discuss problems that Saab was experiencing in making certain payments to GM, which could lead to a production stoppage. As a result of that discussion, Mr. Girsky offered to introduce Mr. Muller to Mr. Xu and, in fact, made that introduction via email on March 1, 2011.

That’s GM actively introducing Victor Muller to a Chinese supplier/investment company as a result of discussions held with regard to Saab’s difficulty in paying GM. In light of the allegations to come, I thought that bit was interesting.

——

FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

This is the bit where Spyker/Saab spell out their case under a number of subheadings. It starts with context and becomes more and more pointed as we get closer to events relating directly to December 2011.

General Motors Seeks to Dominate the Chinese Automobile Market (points 26 to 39)

General information about how the Chinese market is growing in the global context and is becoming a crucial market specifically for GM.

A quote from GM’s latest Form 10-K is telling:

If we are unable to maintain our position in the Chinese market or if vehicle sales in China decrease or do not continue to increase, our business and financial results could be materially adversely affected.

Spyker spells out some sales figures for GM in China (over 1.2 million for Shanghai GM) and juxtaposes its own expectations for Saab sales in China, which were forecasted to be between just 2,000 and 5,000 per year over the first few years of their presence.

My take is that they are establishing the importance of the Chinese market to GM as well as highlighting that fact that Saab were never a threat to GM’s position in China in terms of market share. Point 39 reinforces the first bit:

39. Given the highly competitive climate in the Chinese automobile market, GM has strong incentive to limit its competition wherever possible.

——

Saab Automobiles (points 40 to 52)

This section provides background into Saab’s range and the conditions under which it was manufactured.

One important bit:

48. GM owns the rights to the GM platforms on which the Saab 9-3, 9-4X, 9-5, and 9-7X were built. As set forth in more detail below, Saab had a limited, non-exclusive license to use the necessary GM platforms for the manufacture of these models.

Another important bit:

50. At the March 2011 International Motor Show in Geneva, Saab premiered the Saab PhoeniX, which was based on Saab’s PhoeniX platform. GM owns no rights in Saab’s PhoeniX platform.

Saab were looking to get away from needing GM’s technology and were doing so as quickly as possible. They intended to launch a new 9-3 based on PhoeniX technology for the 2013 model year (manufacturing for that one would be happening right about now if things had worked out differently).

——

General Motors Sells Saab to Spyker (points 53 to 70)

This section talks about the conditions that gave rise to GM’s sale of Saab to Spyker, prominent among them being GM’s own bankruptcy proceedings in 2009 under US law. This section also establishes a couple of important acronyms:

  • GTO – GM’s Global Technology Operations, the body responsible for licencing GM technology around the world.
  • ATLA – The Automotive Technology Licencing Agreement, which “granted to Saab a non-exclusive, nontransferable, worldwide, royalty-free license to GM intellectual property necessary for the manufacture, assembly and service of Saab 9-5 and 9-3 models identified in exhibits to the ATLA (the “Licensed Vehicles”).”

The ATLA contained some restrictions that are important to the context of this lawsuit. Saab could seek to manufacture or assemble in China but had to get GTO approval first. If such permission was sought, GTO had the right to first offer a partner to do this work, though Saab could turn elsewhere if the GTO’s nominated partner had unfavourable commercial terms.

So, GM could allow manufacture/assembly in China under the ATLA.

Two other important bits:

68. At no time did GM have a right to approve or disapprove of any business transaction to license or sell exclusively Saab-developed and owned intellectual property, including the PhoeniX platform.

69. At all times relevant, GM knew that it did not own or have any rights in the PhoeniX platform or other Saab-developed and owned intellectual property.

——

Saab Experiences Financial Difficulties (points 71 to 86)

This section describes the various conditions that led to Saab’s financial difficulties through 2010 and 2011.

  • GM’s voluntary liquidation of Saab just prior to Spyker’s purchase of the company in early 2010
  • The need to re-invigorate sales channels and top-up a global short supply of Saab vehicles
  • These were primary contributors to lower-than-expected sales
  • Saab’s precarious financial position was accentuated by heavy investment in product launches (9-5 and 9-4x) and future product investment

That’s not an exhaustive list, by any means. It’s also Spyker’s perspective. There are other lights that could be shone on this, which I’m sure GM will seek to do.

However, these primary contributors all led to Saab’s cash shortage, which led to Saab’s transport company refusing to deliver to the factory – the single initial domino that fell and set off a trail of dominos that led to the bankruptcy of Saab in December 2011.

Points 79 to 86 cover initial attempts to secure funding and the various road blocks that appeared at this time. Victor Muller tries several different ways to secure investment, including courting Chinese investment, and point 84 is provided as an example of Spyker’s efforts to keep GM informed of this at things progressed.

It’s important to note, once again, that GM were aware of Saab’s financial difficulties as they were one of Saab’s suppliers and weren’t getting paid. In discussions regarding this, a GM representative introduced Victor Muller to a potential Chinese investor (David Xu) during the Geneva Motor Show in March 2011. This is highlighted in point 83.

Perhaps GM were miffed that Saab didn’t use their recommended Chinese investor?

The important conclusion from Spyker is at point 86:

GM created the appearance of initially encouraging Saab to enter into a deal with Chinese investors to save the company, only later to unlawfully pull the rug out from under Saab, driving it into bankruptcy liquidation. Indeed, it was GM’s intent by whatever means necessary to quash any financing or investment deal that could save Saab from liquidation, because GM simply sought to eliminate Saab from competition, particularly in the Chinese automobile market.

——

Efforts to Restructure Ownership of Spyker through December 2011 (points 87 to 112)

The first deal addressed in this section is actually the deal with Hawtai. Saab drew up the deal and GM initially showed concern that it would breach the terms of the ATLA, but were later said to be open to viewing it favourably. It didn’t matter in the end as Hawtai got the boot from the Chinese government, who (quietly) said they wouldn’t approve the investment. They wanted Youngman in on the deal (these bits aren’t stated in the points, they’re my added context).

The rest of Saab/Spykers efforts in this section are of varying degrees of contextual importance, but they come down to this:

  • Saab structures deal with Pang Da and/or Youngman and GM sinks the deal, citing the ATLA.

One important bit:

92. Through contemporaneous communications with Mr. Kaminski, Mr. Muller informed GM that Saab was continuing to attempt to secure the necessary government approvals and, if it was unable to do so, another Chinese company, Youngman, stood ready to enter into a strategic partnership with Saab. Mr. Kaminski responded, “Victor, Thanks for the update. Good luck.”

The number of proposed deals here is significant, and GM’s objection to them is based on the ATLA every time. It may or may not be significant to note here that much of this was done while Saab was in voluntary reorganisation under Swedish law and under the control of administrator, Guy Lofalk.

——

Spyker Structures Deal with Youngman That Does Not Require GM Consent (points 113 to 126)

The veracity of this section, to me, is the crux of this matter.

Spyker claim to have struck a deal with Youngman on December 16 that would sanction GM technology from Youngman’s view and would convert Saab’s debt to Youngman (a significant €200m) into equity only after Saab had stopped using GM technology completely. This deal is referred to as the Framework Agreement (remember that name).

Important claims by Spyker/Saab in reference to this:

120. Under the Framework Agreement, Youngman would have had no access in any way to any GM technology.

121. Pursuant to the Framework Agreement, Saab and Youngman would have established a joint venue in which each company had an equal interest.

122. This joint venture would develop future Saab models based upon the PhoeniX platform.

123. The version of the PhoeniX platform that the joint venture would acquire contained no GM proprietary technology.

124. The Framework Agreement therefore did not require GM’s approval under the ATLA or any other contract between GM, its affiliates, Saab or Spyker.

The battle lines are drawn.

——

GM Tortiously Interferes with the Youngman – Saab Agreement (points 127 to 141)

Spyker/Saab claim that they established a firewall around GM’s interests in the Framework Agreement. They also establish that GM had a copy of the Framework Agreement provided to them, so they were fully aware of the firewall they believe that they built.

GM’s response is noted in point 128:

Saab’s various new alternative proposals are not meaningfully different from what was originally proposed to General Motors and rejected. Each proposal results either directly or indirectly in the transfer of control and/or ownership of the company in a manner that would be detrimental to GM and its shareholders. As such, GM cannot support any of these proposed alternatives.

The way I see it, Spyker/Saab are saying that despite GM’s interests being protected and the ATLA not being breached by the Framework Agreement, GM continued to make significant public statements to the effect that they would not support the agreement, and that they would withhold supply to Saab if the agreement went ahead.

It then came down to whether or not Youngman were willing to call GM’s bluff. They weren’t. The perceived risk of GM being able to deny them product or supply was seen by them to be too great.

Saab were at their last option when this deal was drawn up and had no choice but to file for bankruptcy under Swedish law on December 19th, 2011.

——

All that boils down to the claims below:

142. Plaintiffs re-allege and incorporate the allegations set forth above as if fully set forth herein.

143. Despite initial appearances, GM never intended to allow Saab to compete with it in China. When Saab found a way to secure liquidity and continue as a going concern with the help of Chinese investors, GM was determined to scuttle the deal by any means necessary, including the publication of false information about its rights under the parties’ contracts.

144. As set forth above, Spyker and Saab had a valid business expectancy in the Framework Agreement.

145. GM had knowledge of the business expectancy from multiple sources.

146. GM intended to wrongfully interfere with the business expectancy in order to protect itself from competition in the Chinese marketplace.

147. Based upon the structure of the Framework Agreement, of which GM was aware, GM could not justifiably rely on the ATLA non-assignment provisions or any other contractual provisions to oppose the Framework Agreement, because GM’s proprietary technology had been expressly carved out of the Youngman – Saab deal.

148. GM had no legal basis to assert that its consent to the Framework Agreement was required or to withhold its consent.

149. GM resorted to making intentionally false statements that GM’s consent was required and that GM would oppose the deal.

150. GM also wrongfully threatened to breach the Saab Vehicle Supply Agreement if Spyker and Saab entered the Framework Agreement.

151. As a direct and proximate result of GM’s wrongful threats and intentionally false statements, and for no other reason, Youngman did not enter into the Framework Agreement, causing a termination of Spyker and Saab’s valid business expectancy and Saab to enter into liquidation.

152. GM’s tortious interference with Saab’s and Spyker’s economic expectancy in the Framework Agreement has caused Saab and Spyker damages in an amount to be proven at trial, but no less than $3,000,000,000.

——

There will be plenty of conjecture in comments and in the wider press about who might win, the points of law that will need to be determined and whether or not the parties might settle.

I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t know one way or the other.

I don’t personally think that GM were concerned about competition from Saab in China. I think they were worried about their technology becoming available there without their direct control, but I also think that control could have been established by Saab under the terms of the Framework Agreement. I think GM’s direction towards certain Chinese investors is telling, especially when they were acutely aware of Saab’s difficulties.

How much emphasis should the court give to this episode compared with other conditions that might have contributed to Saab’s bankruptcy? Should those other conditions even be a factor? Saab claim that this Framework Agreement could have saved the company in the state that it was in at the time. Will the court agree and do they then have to extrapolate what might have happened after? (Surely not).

Personally speaking, I do hold GM accountable for a lot of the things that happened to Saab – not all, but a lot. I have, for a long time, thought that GM put Saab in the too-hard basket and that that’s no reason for a great car company to die. I certainly wouldn’t mind if the judge found in Spyker/Saab’s favour and it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

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37 Comments

  1. You’re right Steven, GM wasn’t responsible for all of Saab’s ills even if we’d like to think so. However it was responsible for quite a lot of them and definitely drove the final nails into the coffin. GM certainly needs to be taken down a peg for it’s actions and 3 billion seems a nice round figure!

  2. Telling for me that Spyker will benefit 90% of the proceeds. Victor is astute and I wish him well against Gm, but if I were a former supplier , I might think that I was owed something , moralkyb, if not legally?

  3. Swade, just to make clear: the Hawtai deal, to which point 92 refers, did not take place under Lofalk.

    Secondly, when you say that you hold GM accountable for a lot of the things that happened to Saab, which time frame are we talking about then? Surely you mean the pre-2010 period?

    1. Jeroen you can’t be serious? First off Swade said “much of it” not “all of it” was done under Guy’s watch. Big difference there.

      Not to speak for Swade but surely you are not insinuated GM had nothing to do with the downfall of Saab post-2010? That is the complete essence of this lawsuit and while at this time we have a somewhat one-sided view into the details of the matter it would seem to be a fairly well constructed and supported case. There is certainly enough information available to at least place significant blame on GM for Saab’s liquidation even though one may quibble over the percentage of blame to lay at their feet.

      1. I am very serious. I was just clarifying that particular point, nothing more, nothing less. Please hold your horses, my friend.

        With regards to your second comment: I won’t outline my objections to the claims by Spyker in full detail again. You can read my earlier comment here: http://www.swadeology.com/2012/08/spyker-file-3billion-lawsuit-against-general-motors/#comment-3485

        I understand what the essence of this lawsuit is, and I just don’t think the case holds up, for a whole array of reasons. I am not ‘insinuating’ that GM had ‘nothing to do’ with Saab’s demise (I have stated several times before that they didn’t always help, to put it mildly), but I also don’t agree with the notion of this planned lawsuit that GM singlehandedly ran Saab into the ground. Especially not during the Spyker ownership era. And just like Swade I was there to experience the demise of Saab first hand, so I like to think that I know a bit what I am talking about.

        1. The question is -and why they go to court is- did GM provide the deadly blow when Saab could have been saved by a cash infusion/business deal if it didn’t breach contracts made with GM.
          If they lead VM on to believe a deal with the Chinese was okay under certain conditions and if SWAN met them, then it’s much worse IMO.
          Earlier mistakes made have nothing to do with the specific dispute at hand.
          To know who is right you need to have access to all the agreements ever made and then there is the question how to interpret them if clauses are not clear or specific enough.

          1. Well indeed, that is the fascinating angle of the whole story and it will be interesting to see how that plays out. What I am responding to is the additional overreach in the deposition, as I pointed out in my earlier comments. Rather than stick to the actual issue you mention, Muller (true to form, I must admit) litters the document with countless additional claims, insinuations and accusations that are imho rather out there, and at the very least quite hard to prove in a court of law. I don’t think that necessarily strengthens the case.

    2. To all,

      For those who don’t know, I worked with Jeroen at Saab. He was in PR and was a frequent contact and he’s a lot more knowledgeable about the ins and outs of what went on there than I am. I had to go consult with he and his colleagues about what I could and couldn’t say for Inside Saab so when operating on a need-to-know basis, you could say he had some sway in deciding what I needed to know 🙂

      Jeroen – As pointed out, I’ve said much of this happened under Lofalk, not all, and I was thinking mostly of the myriad 100% Chinese deals and others that he tried to put together. I should have made that clearer.

      And yes, GM’s main responsibility lies in the pre-Spyker era, but I can think of things post-2009 that they could have done in a fairer spirit as well, if only for the potential of their own stake in Saab. Saab’s journey into liquidation before the sale is a good starting point.

      1. With respect to GM’s involvement/hindrance post-Spyker sale: It’s critical to understand what agreements that Spyker and the ‘new’ Saab signed to make the break from GM. We know that GM had veto power and other corporate technology controls as voluntarily agreed by Spyker. From a legal point-of-view, it may not matter if behavior is or isn’t ‘right’ if it’s already agreed to by the accuser.

        So, even if Spyker can prove that GM was not acting fairly, they also have to prove that their purchase agreement did not give GM the privilege to do so. I think that will be a sticky wicket for VM because, as we noted, the agreement was complex and made GM a strong stakeholder.

  4. GM must vigorously defend the claim and prevail, or there will be a series of similar claims from aggrieved parties over the closure of other GM brands such as Hummer, Pontiac, Saturn and Oldsmobile.

    1. There is a marked difference to what happened to Saab and what happened to Pontiac, Hummer, Saturn etc. With those brands, GM closed down brands that it currently owned. With Saab it appears to have actively engaged in actions that forced the closure of a brand that was not owned by GM at that time. Whilst success for Spyker might open the door to litigation by parties that were aggrieved by the closure of Saab (and perhaps rightly so?) this would not relate directly to what happened to brands owned by GM and closed by GM. I wish Spyker every success.

  5. Swade, thanks for another engaging and perceptive summary of some complicated Saab events. This comment by Jeroen, whose former position and obvious insight makes him a very interesting witness, is to me most telling:

    “Rather than stick to the actual issue you mention, Muller (true to form, I must admit) litters the document with countless additional claims, insinuations and accusations that are imho rather out there, and at the very least quite hard to prove in a court of law. I don’t think that necessarily strengthens the case.”

    I was in Sweden last autumn I think when Victor appeared on a chat show talking about how things were going at Saab in the period before filing for bankruptcy. My impression of the man was that I liked his passion, his eloquence, his charm, his enthusiasm for Saab – and his dapper appearance – but I did detect a slightly grubby self-interest and self-promotion, and a rather shallow covetousness and boastful materialism. I know, I know: what should I have expected from a man with his background, but still it worried me. There was also more than a hint of the Walter Mitty about him, but maybe you need that to be a truly daring entrepreneur. I think that because Victor has so much more charm and charisma than the GM public-relations machine, that was one of the reasons why I and many others had a fondness for him, and I still do until disavowed of it by future events. And to that end, as Swade suggests, this court case is likely to be very interesting indeed, and should Victor defeat GM then I certainly won’t weep.

    A cynical note to end on: was the suing of GM in the event of Saab’s bankruptcy always Victor’s plan B right from the start, a means of making a Pheonix rise from the ashes and into his bank account no matter what the outcome? Highly unlikely I know, and it would imply that Victor knew all along Saab wouldn’t survive and that its collapse could be pinned on GM somehow, but just a thought.

    1. The stories that Jeroen refers to…… I don’t think they weaken the case at all, but that’s just my opinion. I share his concern (in comments to the press release itself) about two of the points contradicting one another with regard to Chinese sales and their importance, or lack thereof.

      WRT Victor, he’s a fast mover and a multi-tasker and I’m sure the possibility crossed his mind prior to the actual bankruptcy that this could happen. But don’t let that influence your opinion of him or his work for Saab.

      I didn’t see too much of him personally during 2011, but when I did, I can tell you I’ve never seen someone so exhausted. And remember that both his sister and his father passed away while all this was going on and he took minimal time away from the company to deal with those devastating events.

      I’ve got nothing but admiration for the guy. He might dream a bit big and the PR guys probably had a hard time with his openness, but for me he was inspirational and for all the right reasons.

      I don’t know how this lawsuit will go and I wonder whether it’s standing on solid ground. But it takes big cohunas to launch it and I wouldn’t begrudge him the win at all.

      1. Ha 🙂 I will admit, we did have a hard time with his openness at times, but that was part of the job really. So before the impression is created, I’d like to take away any impression that my comments stem from a personal grudge. On the contrary: there is no person like Victor on this planet who manages to instill inspiration and energy into his people, and I thoroughly enjoyed working with him. He has an undeniable charisma, a relentless energy and persistence, and an unprecedented ability to rally the troops, so to speak. He is the sole reason Saab lasted as long as it did, let that be clear. So, I would surely not begrudge him a victory either.

        1. there is no person like Victor on this planet who manages to instill inspiration and energy into his people, and I thoroughly enjoyed working with him.

          Absolutely. I’d work for him tomorrow if he asked.

          1. Charisma and leadership in droves, yes. Very impressive.

            Hubris got the better of Victor.

            Saab had a chance with VM, and it had no chance without him. I admire his will, tenacity and skill in giving us another several months of Saab.

    2. IMHO, the main “problem” for Muller were that lots of people in Sweden took issue with his personality. There were constant remarks about what he said, how he said it, where he said it, his cloths, him being from the Netherlands etc. Even journalist would make almost condescending remarks about him in ordinary news reporting (and they still do). All this is also visible in comments on Saab fan sites. Everything is always spun with theories about conspiracies from Muller’s part, and questions if he is doing this or that just to pocket money for himself. I don’t know the man, but in the end it must be extremely tiring even for him to always have to confront this and hardly ever get to talk about the facts of the day.

      1. After having worked amongst them for a few years, that says more to me about members of the Swedish media than it does about Victor. There are some really good ones among them (Kinnander, the AMS guys, Collin and the people at TTELA) but there are some muckrakers there, too.

        That’s not just a Swedish thing, by the way, but some of them seemed particularly vindictive.

        1. An added observation here: being Dutch myself, I can testify that even for Dutch standards Victor is rather flamboyant. So imagine this flamboyant, outspoken entrepreneur landing into relatively introvert Sweden and becoming a media personality there. I am not sure whether journalists actually had an issue with him as a person (again, he is blessed with lots of charisma and it’s my impression that many journalists actually liked him), but there surely was an almost endless fascination with that tall Dutchman who came out of nowhere to buy Saab.

          1. If he had another two years I think he would have been able to pull it off. Engines from BMW, he picked a good designer for the Phoenix, his mistake in hindsight might have been restarting production too early.

            The Griffin model (last year of the 93) was a much better vehicle for the time and effort put into it.

  6. Actually, the fact that I refer to Mr Muller as “Victor”, in the same way as a teenager might refer to a pop star whom they have and will never meet but whose poster they have on the bedroom wall, underlines Mr Muller’s key asset – his magnetic charm. It is a fascinating, powerful but perhaps ultimately quite dangerous substance. So it’s “Mr Muller” or “VM” from now on.

      1. Mr Muller, also known as Vic to his friends and former employees ;-), is a guy who, on balance, I admire a lot. I find him fascinating, but the fascination comes from the perceived shade as well as the light of his character, as any prospective biographer should know (Note to Swade: ever given it any thought?).

        Plus I guess I am just throwing a few reservations out there because it is important to be circumspect at times. Underneath my lefty exterior I, too, harbour an ardent desire to work like a dog behind closed doors while cultivating the image of a flash playboy tooling around the highway in Monaco in a supercar en route to my private jet and the next board meeting of my very own car company staffed by legions of admiring followers. So too, secretly, do many Swedish journalists and politicians – but they appear to be too repressed to admit it, nor to live and let live when somebody else lives like that.

        Whatever, Mr Muller clearly rubbed a lot of Swedish journalists and politicians up the wrong way just because, exactly has been suggested, he is very much not the reserved Swedish businessman of which Jan Ake Johnsson is an archetype. From the outset they had it in for Mr Muller, plain and simple, and as many people have observed this is perhaps one of the downsides of Sweden’s otherwise marvelous culture – which is that one ought never to try to be a tall poppy, especially if one is an outsider.

        After all, one could never by any stretch describe either Mr Muller or a Spyker C8 Aileron as “lagom” and I think that’s what a lot of folk, or at least opinion-formers, in Sweden had a problem with. Don’t be too loud, don’t be too colourful, don’t be too successful. It’s the price of consensual social democracy. Even Abba were shunned at home in their heyday, for goodness sake!

        But then, you know, maybe it cuts both ways, because I think you can actually win a lot of admirers in Sweden if you do go your own way and stick out from the crowd – Ingmar Bergman, Thomas Di Leva, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, to name just a few. If only Mr Muller had been able to make that Framework Agreement stick, then his stock would have risen with the Swedish public just as surely as it would have risen in Amsterdam. But it didn’t, and that’s why we are here …

        1. Re; but they appear to be too repressed to admit it, nor to live and let live when somebody else lives like that.

          And that is where the word Jealousy kicks in….

        1. One of the best, and most intriguing, noms de plume, I have ever set eyes upon, eggsngrits. I would go so far as to say it is cracking. 😉

  7. I wonder what might happen if Spyker is successful. Could distributors, dealers, suppliers et al bring their own suits against GM if a prededent is established (albeit civil and not criminal)? That concern may push GM to settle which would put a gag in everyone’s mouth, and that might be the end of the story. Spyker may indeed end up with a sizeable reward.

    1. According to ttela.se (who reference Just-Auto), Lars Holmqvist (former CEO of CLEPA) has said in an interview that also Youngman is considering suing GM now.

      Nice quote by Holmqvist:
      “I hope Detroit take this serious, because the main characteristics of Victor Muller is that he is clever and a lawyer… He alone has more energy than the whole of GM administration”.

      1. After the collapse of the sale of Saab to Chinese Youngman leading to the former’s bankruptcy, it was revealed that Mr. Muller favoured Turkish Brightwell, not Chinese Youngman. See http://www.saabsunited.com/2012/02/victor-helping-brightwell.html

        So, did Mr Muller act in good faith earlier when he was purporting to sell Saab to Youngman? Did Youngman suffer some kind of a modern day Western betrayal at his hand and isn’t Youngman accordingly entitled to legal redress against Spyker and him?

        1. Yes.

          No, and…..

          No.

          The mere fact that it didn’t work out doesn’t mean one (or both) parties is automatically liable for the losses of another. It depends on whether one of them has acted inappropriately or otherwise breached a contract. Muller contends that GM did something that can be construed that way. Youngman might, too. But extrapolating that our to YM vs VM is speculation until they bring out a possible reason why.

  8. I don’t see that Spyker has a clean shot at this lawsuit. Messy affair. Spyker will be forced to defend their management of Saab and Saab’s sales or bottom-line. And, then don’t forget the Swedish government. Divorce anyone?

    Not sure I have a thought on this one, maybe just a puzzle.

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