The white-collar unions Unionen and Ledarna filed bankruptcy petitions today against Saab, everybody from Associated Press to inside.saab reports. On the same day, Saab announced that it had licensed its PhoeniX architecture to China’s Youngman at firesale prices – a move that could possibly buy another month or two. But first things first:
The Vanersborg District Court confirmed that Unionen and Ledarna took bankruptcy action against Saab, and that a bankruptcy hearing will be held within three weeks. According to a court spokesperson, Saab has to prove at the hearing that it has the money to pay the bills. Alternatively it can delay things for another two weeks if it can show that money is on its way.
Saab can avert bankruptcy by having its bankruptcy protection application approved on appeal, or by finding new money before the bankruptcy hearing. If not: BANKRUPTCY.
Saab is nervously drumming the table, hoping for a €245 million ($344 million) cash infusion from China’s Youngman and Pang Da. This is hinging on approval from the National Development Reform Commission (NDRC) which is not famous for its swift action.
To tide Saab over once again, Victor Muller reached deep into his hat and found another rabbit: According to a press release, Saab sold a non-exclusive license of its PhoeniX platform to a Dutch Special Purpose Vehicle called Swedish Automobile coöperatief U.A. (SPV) for €70 million. A Special Purpose Vehicle is no car, it is a company created for a narrowly defined purpose, in this case to hold the PhoeniX license. Apparently, this license is transferable. According to the release, “Youngman has also signed a technology license transfer agreement with the SPV on purchasing the license and providing a guarantee for its payment of the license.” The price Youngman paid was not released, but something in the neighborhood of €70 million would be a good guess. Maybe a little more. Management fee.
Judging from the oblique language of the press release, this whole sale and licensing business is nothing else than a security for a loan that will probably be coming from Youngman. For €70 million, that’s bupkis in the car business, Youngman got its hands on technology that was scheduled to go retail by 2013. This is probably the first time a Chinese manufacturer gets plans and license to a car years before it goes on sale in the West. For only €70 million. Reuters isn’t completely convinced and writes that Saab “conjured up a promise of 70 million euros ($96 million) in vital financing.”
Those rabbits better have at it in the hat: Everybody who is owed anything will race to the bankruptcy court and file their claim. Looking at the mid-term balance sheet, there were liabilities of over €1.4 billion. Oooops. Someone have a rabbit farm?