By on January 27, 2010

It’s been a looooong wait and lots of nail biting for Saab employees and Saab enthusiasts around the world, but GM and Spyker have reached a preliminary agreement on a Saab sale. The deal includes amongst other things the rights to the Saab brand of course, the Trollhättan production facilities (which was important to Spyker – more on that in a bit), the rights to produce and sell the existing 9-3′s, the new 9-5 and 9-4x models. Former Saab CEO Jan-Åke Jonsson, who was let go when the liqudation of Saab started, will be reinstated as CEO. He, and Spykers CEO Victor Muller have been named the heroes of this deal – Jonsson for his endurance and stamina “He didn’t walk out the back-door as liquidation started – instead he started nightly negotiations, writes Aftonbladet.se in a tribute to Jonssons’ role. And Spyker’s Muller’s charm and persistence have also been mentioned as a crucial part in securing Saab from GM.

THE FINANCING

Financing for the Spyker/Saab deal is not entirely known, but Victor Muller have allegedly contributed with private funds to secure the deal. But when di.se asks him, he gets secretive. It’s mostly financed through loans, he says, but he refuses to specify sources saying “it’s about my own shareholder structure.”
What is clear is that he buys out the Russian black horse Viktor Antonov, which was a demand from both GM and the Swedish Government. Antonov will own nothinh in the new company, Muller says. But Muller himself will hold a 38% stake in the company. And Abu-Dabi based Mubadala will own 22,4%. The rest of Saab’s capital structure will consist of investment funds, each holding less then 5% of Saab”s equity. All this according to Muller himself, through di.se

THE DEAL

Under the terms of the deal, the following will take place.
1. Spyker Cars NV in Zeewolde, The Netherlands buys all Saab Automobile AB’s shares from GM’s subsidiary Saab Automobile Investment AB for US$ 74 million.
2. At Spyker’s general meeting later this spring, the Spyker NV*s name will change to Saab Spyker Automobiles NV. Saab will become a Subsidiary of SSA.
3. GM stops Saab’s liquidation and Jan Åke Jonsson and the rest of Saab’s manafgement is reinstated.
4. Payment to GM will happen in two stages: 50 million upon final contract signing, by Feb.15, and then 24 million by July 15 2010.
5. The contract between GM and Spyker are dependent on the €400m EIB loan. The Swedish government has said they will guarantee the loan, but the EU commission must approve the guarantee, and the EI Bank must grant the loan.
6. GM will partner in the new Saab Spyker for 7 years, by getting interest bearing preference shares worth USD 326 million (with a 1% voting rights). This is in practice a loan from GM to Spyker that is due Dec 31 2016.
7. Victor Muller will, through his privately owned company Tenaci Capital BV, resolve Vladimir Antonov from the deal. Antonov’s presence was an issue to GM and Sweden’s Gov’t.

SPYKER’S PLANS

Spyker’s plan for Saab includes production and sales of the existing 9-3 models, the new 9-5 and the new 9-4x ASAP, hopefully during April. Muller also wants to produce Spyker cars at the Trollhättan facilties. Today, Spyker are collaborating with Lotus, paying millions per year for development recources. With Saab Spyker these costs can be kept in-house. In an interview with AutoMotor&Sport.se, Muller also says Saab will not release a 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8-series like Audi/BMW/Mercedes, but will instead concentrate on a few models. But he REALLY thinks the Saab Aero X is a model deserving to become reality. “At Spyker cars we know how to produce exclusive cars in small series, so…” he teases AMS

.
Jan Åke Jonsson says in an interview with di.se that he reckons Saab will be profitable in 2012, which is when they will have finished the plan’s largest investments. Saab must sell 100,000 cars to be profitable, he says. Saab has consistently sold 100.000 cars, regardless of economic changes. “We’ll use this estimate even though we have quite a new model programme, so these figures could even be a conservative estimate,” he tells di.se.

Will this work, though? What’s the difference between this and the Saab-Koenigsegg Deal? The Opel-Magna deal? The Saturn-Penske deal? The Hummer-Tenzhong deal? Time will tell, but for the first time in a long, long time, Saab at least has a future to look forward to.

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23 Comments on “The Saab-Spyker Deal Explained...”


  • avatar
    threeer

    If done right, there is a place in this world for SAAB. Not every manufacturer needs to be VW/GM/Toyota large. Interesting (we hope) and exciting niche vehicles can be profitable…here’s hoping Spyker can pull it off…

  • avatar

    with John smith involved, I don’t trust it, nor him whatsoever.

  • avatar
    mpvue

    SAAB can get along w/ 2 cars really, a 9-3 and a sports car of some sort. SAAB fans aren’t looking for/expecting anything else; they certainly didn’t need the offensive SAABblazerXwhateveritwas.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    100 000 cars to break even doesn’t sound right. There needs to be a premium in the tens of thousands of dollars per car for that. Porsche can manage that, but Saab doesn’t have a giant profit builder like the Cayenne.

    • 0 avatar

      Ingvar, Saab does not necessarily need to be as profitable as Porsche. It’s all about finding the volume that works for you. Porsche sells cars at tens of thousands of dollars premium because they can get away with it. Saab can sell for a fraction of that premium and still be profitable over the same volume (both makes sell roughly the same number of vehicles per annum, internationally).

      Further to that, a volume-only analysis is not necessarily always correct. The plant in Trollhåttan is one of the most modern and efficient in the world (in large thanks to substantial investment by GM) and when properly utilized the fixed costs can be spread over 100,000 vehicles instead of 60,000. And there is no reason why Saab cannot contract the production of other marquees.

      Is the Saab-Spyker deal a risky endeavour? Yes, most risky! But sometimes risk pays off. Now they need to get crackin’ as a lot of work lies ahead, most importantly engineering the all-new 9-3. Rumour back when Koenigsegg was still the buyer had it that Saab and BMW plan to cooperate on a FWD-based platform. This makes sense as BMW won’t have to bear the development costs for MINIs all by itself. And there are numerous other opportunities where Saab can work/cooperate with competitors.

  • avatar

    Good luck Saab Spyker. If they can bring the Aero-X to market in the US, and I eventually see one driving on the road, it’ll all be worth it.

  • avatar
    Ernie

    Tell me that thing makes “the transformer noise” when it opens & closes . . . I want to believe!

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    This is a mistake by GM. Watch, they’ll end up having to assume liabilies again down the road when Saab ends up in bankruptcy for the last time just like with Delphi. This Spyker playboy does not have the financial muscle to make Saab thrive. And there’s nothing new or innovative about his business plan. New flawed business plan, same as the old flawed business plan. Worse, the buyers will not come back. Too many other better choices out there. A waste of time and money for everyone involved.

    • 0 avatar
      Sinistermisterman

      As much as I’d like to see Spyker and SAAB thrive as an independent car manufacturer, I’m inclined to agree with you. In an utterly over saturated market place, niche manufacturers have no hope in hell of competing or surviving producing everyday cars.
      But enough pessimism, here’s hoping they do succeed.

  • avatar
    tparkit

    What’s the difference between this and the Opel deal? That the taxpayers finally coughed up enough money to convince a “buyer” to take a junkpile subsidiary off of GM’s hands. This “sale” (i.e. act of political face-saving by Washington and Government Motors) will cost us at a minimum hundreds of millions before Saab finally collapses. Sounds like the taxpayers of Sweden are going to get soaked too.

  • avatar

    Regarding the photo – that’s some super-cool car. Just don’t open it when it’s really windy, or you might be picking up car pieces all over. Tiny car manufacturer like Spyker taking over a much bigger in-troubled-water fish? Well, on one hand they may bring some boldness and freshness, which SAAB definitely needs if it’s to take off; on the other hand they might be trying to swallow too big a fish.
    I guess it all depends on how much smarts and intelligents those dudes at Spyker have…

    • 0 avatar
      akitadog

      With the 7-year partnership with GM, they could certainly build the Aero-X. How? By using the Corvette/XLR platform. The shape of the concept looks like it was made with that platform in mind. Of course, gone would be the trick opening, replaced by conventional doors, and A-pillars would appear, but you could maintain 80-90% of the look, and have a killer sports car in the SAAB family. Maybe boost the 2.8T V6 to, say, 350 hp?

  • avatar
    seanx37

    What a really bad idea. I could see if GM just handed over Saab, and ran away. Quickly.

    But a 7 yr partnership? WHo thinks that is a good idea? Anyone? Won’t providing Spyker/Saab with GM platforms and technology hurt GM in the long run?

    And didn’t GM sell the rights to the names, and all the older technology to the Chinese? And pull all the tooling for the new 95 from the plant? They are just going to magically get all that back now?

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      There has to be a partnership with GM. The 9-3, new 9-5, and 9-4x ARE GM products for all intents and purposes. Probably the BEST GM products in my admittedly biased (I own an ’08 9-3 SportCombi) opinion. And this is not really a bad thing per se – GM CAN make great products, their problem is the management of those products. Keep the products, bring in management that can actually pay attention to Saab!

      Cooperation with other makes will certainly be the key to the future, and this is something that Saab has decades of experience in. Engines bought in from Ford and Triumph back in the day, the 9000 was a joint venture with Fiat, to working with GM prior to the final Borging. They are GOOD at this, and have a lot of expertise in engines and safety engineering to offer.

      Finally, for the 10 millionth time, all GM sold to the Chinese was the tooling for the OLD 9-3 (1999-2002 model) and the OLD 9-5 (1999-2009 model). The current 9-3 (2003 on) and new 9-5 (2010 on) are what are being purchased by Spyker, and are currently IN production in Trollhatten. The 9-4x (new crossover SUV thing) is ready to start production in Mexico. They did NOT sell the Saab name to the Chinese, the old cars will be sold under a Chinese brand name there, NOT as Saabs!

  • avatar
    tedward

    If Saab wants to make money and draw sales they need to differentiate themselves from VW (product wise) asap. I appreciate what Saab’s represent, turbo enginess, upscale interiors, legroom for tall people and a northern european design focus, but I fail to see how that is unique when I look at a passat, jetta or GTI. Hell, the current VW’s play that same exact game at a lower price point, with far more wiggle room options wise, and they do it far better than Saab’s current offerings. I’d also say that they needed some excellent auto transmissions and noticeably less coarse 4 cylinder engines to even make sense at VW prices, nevermind their fantasy of playing in the BMW/Merc sandbox.

    On the other hand the remaining Saab faithful are exactly that, as all the easily swayed have already migrated to VW and Subaru, and all the well moneyed have transitioned to actual upscale content brands.

  • avatar
    crush157

    It looks like it is the best of both worlds for GM. They forgo responsibility for SAAB while taking in some cash, but for 7 years they have a relationship (Can’t have SAAB without the GM/Opel platform for the current designs). GM can watch from the sidelines and see if it works. If it does, they’ll probably want to muscle back in, get a quick profit for a few years and then destroy it all over again…

  • avatar

    BAIC will own the SAAB brand is 3 to 3 years, tops.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    What’s all this about 7 year partnership?

    Is this SAAB paying GM for engines, transmissions, steering and stampings and/or badge-engineered vehicles?

    That’s not partnership, that is a suppy-relationship.

    edit: should be “supply-relationship”, but I like the typo, so it stays in.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    This really is like those B horror movies where the beast keeps coming back from the dead.


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