Swedish radio cites an unnamed source close to Saab as saying the troubled automaker was preparing to file for court-protected reorganization, as it struggles to pay workers and restart production. Under that scenario, Sweden would pay worker salaries while reorganization takes place. But at the company’s official mouthpiece, inside.saab.com, a press release refuses to deny or rule out that Saab has chosen this route. The release reads:
Swedish Automobile N.V. (Swan) is aware of certain reports in Swedish media related to a possible filing by Saab Automobile AB (Saab Automobile) for a voluntary reorganization under Swedish law.
Swan confirms its earlier announcements that it is in discussions with several parties to secure the short and medium term funding of Saab Automobile to restart and sustain production. In order to secure the continuity of Saab Automobile, Swan and Saab Automobile are evaluating all available options. Swan will update the market in case of new developments.
This non-denial might be read as a confirmation that Saab is considering filing for court protection, but hasn’t yet decided on that course of action. Meanwhile, Saab has delayed its latest financial report, and its online PR rep continues to blame the media for concluding that because Saab can’t sell cars, pay suppliers, restart production or even pay salaries on time it’s destined for bankruptcy court.
In the comments section of the posted press release quote above, Saab PR man Steve Wade writes
I understand that Saab’s situation creates some degree of uncertainty. But surely the whirlpool that’s surrounding this company in the press happens – in the press and at their instigation.
There are reports all over the place about the things that “might” happen to Saab. We’re not the ones writing them but we’re the ones who have to deal with the fallout. We’re doing the same things we’ve said all along – negotiating and trying to get the right deal done and finished. This was serious, so we responded. But if we respond to every specific allegation about what “might” happen to us then you get a crazy game of back-and-forth that the press will keep playing until they hit a desired target.
Expect this whirlpool to continue until a deal is done. Why? Because it sells papers. It gets views. We take our share of the blame about our situation. I don’t think we can shoulder all the blame over the public’s perception of it because we can’t outrun the press and we can’t report on things that aren’t done and finalised.
I was with Wade through the first sentence. Then he lost me. Blaming the media for adding one plus one and getting two only increases the perception that Saab’s only hope for a rescue is finding someone who is not aware of how bad things have become. In fact, I would argue that it’s almost irresponsible journalism to report Saab’s circumstances without including some reference to the likelihood of bankruptcy.
And Wade’s argument, that the Saab story “sells papers,” doesn’t jive with my experience: our Saab coverage gets consistently lower pageviews than other, unrelated content, and it doesn’t generate the kinds of strong, engaging comment threads that other pieces do. The fact of the matter is that most people think Saab went out of business years ago, and the only people still aware of its existence are desperate for this sad, drawn-out, slow-motion-death-rattle to be over. Not only does nobody take joy at Saab’s passing, most went through the grieving process when GM sold the brand (if they didn’t already do so when GM bought the brand). The idea that hordes of media consumers are driving a feeding frenzy around Saab’s decaying corpse is downright absurd. Almost as absurd as the idea that Saab will secure new investment and find its way out of this situation without falling into the arms of the bankruptcy courts.