By on November 30, 2011

A TTAC tipster sent us a Teknikens Värld  interview with Saab’s long-suffering would-be rescuer, Victor Muller, in which the eternal Saabtimist seems ready to admit defeat. In essence, he admits that GM is unlikely to ever approve a plan involving Chinese firms, that the Chinese firms are throwing “money into a black hole” and that all the previous plans are off the table. Of course, Muller does seem to think that some kind of rescue may yet be possible, but he admits

If I doze off Saab would disappear in an instant

If Muller is losing faith, and doesn’t even have a hairbrained scenario to hype, it seems that the end may well be near. But then, the whole rescue of Saab is beginning to be eclipsed by questions about Muller’s erstwhile partner, Vladimir Antonov, who was recently bailed out of British jail, where he was being held on charges of embezzlement and document forgery. But first, to the Muller interview…

The following is an interview titled “Muller Does Not Believe In Th Chinese”:

Victor Muller doubts that GM will ever accept a Chinese Saab business. According to him, Youngman, Pang Da and Guy Lofalk sabotaged the whole business when they went from the original plan. It says Muller in an exclusive interview with the Teknikens Värld.

On the way home from Britain hits Teknikens Värld Erik Gustafsson, an unusually outspoken Victor Muller. The gate at Heathrow Airport, the plane to Stockholm, he says frank about Saab’s situation.

- This is how it goes when you put his partner in the back, says Muller continues:

- The deal was long time and the arrangement with a Chinese shareholding of 54 per cent was approved. Then began administrator Guy Lofalk run government affairs, to persuade the Chinese to a 100-percent ownership stake and GM slammed on the brakes.

Late yesterday evening, Swedish time, had GM in Detroit, a further meeting on Saab’s future, but Victor Muller strongly doubt one acceptance.

- I understand GM fully, it is clear that they do not want to jeopardize its market in China. But right now I understand the other side is not why the Chinese continue to pump money into the company. As the situation is, it just means to put money into a black hole, without getting anything back. The relationship with GM is so damaged that they (Youngman and Pang Da) can not even go back to the original plan.

While he acknowledges that the situation is tough, he means that there is a solution. He can not tell you how it looks, but he promises to fight till the end.

- If I doze off Saab would disappear in an instant

Muller may still be fighting for Saab’s future, but as prosecutors unwind the Vladimir Antonov situation, Muller could soon be forced out of the process. After all, Muller is said to have a personal debt to Antonov of upwards of €100m, and it seems highly likely that Antonov was using Muller to launder funds embezzled from his Baltic banks. Antonov ‘s sports business has been placed into bankruptcy, and he has stepped down as Chairman of the British soccer team Portsmouth, reports ESPN. And Latvian officials seem to be clear on the Saab connection as well, as the Moscow Times reports

Latvian officials on Wednesday said about 100 million lats ($200 million) was stripped out of Latvyas Kraybank to fund Antonov’s investment projects, including the ill-fated Saab bid.

And the investigation is ongoing, as BBC reports that

[Lithuanian prosecutors] said they were investigating everything that might have links to criminal offences.

They added they would be taking “all the necessary steps” to freeze assets belonging to Mr Antonov and Mr Baranauskas.

It seems inevitable that this investigation will eventually catch up to Muller, at which point he’ll have to plead ignorance of Antonov’s alleged crimes. And even if Muller does escape prosecution, his ability to organize a deal to save Saab will be fundamentally compromised by his association with Antonov. And as Muller himself says,

If I doze off Saab would disappear in an instant

The countdown continues…

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29 Comments on “Our Daily Saab: Muller Losing Faith, Antonov Going Down...”


  • avatar
    johnhowington

    All of this drama, happenstance, schadenfreude, for trash previous gen GM platforms. Saab was Saab back in the mid-late 80s. Saab now is pretty much Saturn walking dead. Just take them to the glue factory already.

  • avatar
    John R

    That’s all folks. Too bad Subaru could get their hands on them. Might have made Audi a little bit nervous, a little.

  • avatar
    Quijote

    “…and it seems highly likely that Antonov was using Muller to launder funds embezzled from his Baltic banks…”

    Wow! Can’t wait until Saab ultimately climbs out of this mess, lives a prosper life, and sues TTACs for your constant reckless, blatant, and continued defamation of character and libel.

    You better hope that indeed your “source” is right about what you printed, because otherwise this is an easy lawsuit that SCNA will win.

    And no, adding “seems highly likely” will not cover your ass when your conspiring and suggesting criminal activity. Trust me…attorneys run in our family.

    • 0 avatar

      Thanks for looking out for me, but I’ll take that chance.

      Latvian officials are already saying Antonov sent embezzled money to Saab, and Muller owes Antonov over 100 million euros…. How else do you interpret that? Coincidence?

    • 0 avatar
      johnhowington

      Suddenly Quijote awakens from his cherry and plum filled dreams to see his saab bonds worthless.

    • 0 avatar
      TEXN3

      These SAAB lovers should give it a rest with their nonsense.

      SAAB is a consumer brand, if it can’t make it in the market, and it never has, then it should close up shop.
      If it wasn’t for GM, either someone else would have picked at the bones or it would have gone under. Same with Volvo. We don’t mourn the loss or spit such hate when many other companies close their doors.

      Oh wait, my opinion may now be subject to civil action! Gimme a break, a lawyer would know better than to say on objective opinion or blog article is slander. SAAB NA is a seperate entity from the SAAB that Ed is discussing. SAAB NA is essentially a marketer and distributor.

      • 0 avatar
        Quijote

        TTAC is obsessed. 10 negative Saab comments for every positive. On any other automotive journal (ie the reputable ones without biased moderation), its the exact opposite. All of these multiple user aliases aren’t fooling anyone.

        Texn3 (TTAC #4), you’re loud and wrong. Its libel, not slander. Don’t mess with attorneys, or our attorney fees.

        Off to Jalopnik, I’m done here.

      • 0 avatar
        TEXN3

        TTAC does use moderation, and I doubt it’s biased. Unless you can prove otherwise.

        Close enough, libel is related to written defamation, slander is related to spoken defamation. I’m an engineer so I don’t obsess over such wording.

        I’m loud and wrong, is that because I am from Texas or because you don’t agree with what I said? I bet you didn’t know I don’t live in TX and actually am quite thankful. I moved from there a few years ago, to the northwest and rather enjoy it! I even bought a Subaru to fit in with the former-SAAB owners. I still have a reference to Texas in my TTAC handle, but that is because I haven’t been able to change it since I moved. 4 years on here, buddy.

        I don’t understand the relevancy of your “fees”, please enlighten me. I could however see the relation to your SAAB ownership.

      • 0 avatar
        naterator

        I sure do get annoyed when someone has a couple of ambulance-chasers in the family and think that somehow makes them qualified to make pronouncements about jurisprudence.

        Anyway, hope you aren’t owed any “fees” from SAAB. Good luck collecting them.

    • 0 avatar
      jeff_vader

      These attorneys Quijote, are they running because they are trying to get back to the side of your family who aren’t delusional?

      Did you not think it even remotely odd when the EIB & GM orignally decided not to let Antonov take over SWAN? Did it not occur to you that they might have known something the rest of us didn’t? Do you not think that if Antonov was going to sue anyone, he would be suing the people who have printed long and easily available articles about his alledged criminal activites all over the internet, rather than a website which I would guess has at least got some legal advice and also has fairly reliable sources?

      I take it from your Viggen badge you’ve wandered over from The Church Of The One True Saab? Well here’s some information you can take back to “Jeff”, “TimR” & the rest of the true believers who believe ‘The Deal’ is just hours over the horizon.

      A lot of staff at Saab GB lost their jobs today. The Fulham showroom shut completely this evening. If Muller had let this insane charade end six months ago when everyone could see it was never going to happen, these people might still be out of work but they wouldn’t have to face Christmas with no job and in the current UK marketplace a very bleak future. And this isn’t the cosy administration like your buddies in Trollhatten get where the government pay the wages while you sit on your bottom for six months. In the UK, its see you, bye! No wages and even if you’ve given 15 years of your life for the company, no redundacy or pension either.

      Coupled up to that you now have a situation where customers in the UK can no longer buy the few remaining new cars because they now belong to the administrators, Saab Finance is now shut so no more good rates for any possible used car sales, the free servicing offers that had been promised to recent customers are now no longer valid and what spares deliveries there were for the service department have now stopped.
      And then there is the kicker; the dealer demonstrators still belong to Saab GB as do any showroom cars. The title is only passed to the dealers when these vehicles are sold. So what that means is that the administrators could turn up and load them all up onto transporters, leaving the dealers with empty showrooms and nothing to test drive. Even if the company is ‘saved’, you want to tell us how to get the dealer network back on board, let alone drag the general public back into the showroom to buy cars they didn’t even want a year ago when you could discount the backside out of them? Got any thoughts on that one?

      Just because you believe, doesn’t mean to say anyone else out there in the real world even cares about what happens to Saab. They have all gone off to buy into generic German diesel greyness & won’t be coming back.

      (Sorry for the rant Edward but some people don’t realise the human cost of what Muller and his comrades have been doing.)

      And speak of the devil, Muller is saying this evening that he was “mis-quoted”. He only believs the 100% deal won’t happen and he still thinks the Chinese will agree a deal with GM. Must of been the 1st Class lounge free pre-flight G&T talking then.

      This just has to end soon.

  • avatar
    Crawfish

    This whole thing has been beyond unfortunate. I only hope it will be over soon.

    It’s a real shame, since there is a lot of enthusiasm and talent within the company and given the right resources, they could build fun cars with personality again. But they haven’t had the resources for a long long time. I hoped that they would eventually be freed of their GM-based mediocrity and develop a true Saab car.

    At least I still have my c900 daily driver and a network of resources to keep it going. And I have my memory of sitting in UrSaab and Erik Carlsson’s 96 rally car.

    But what I simply don’t understand is the absolute hate and vitriol that I see against Saab, and the seeming joy that folks are taking in burying it. It has always been a small company; in the first 40 years of its existence it built cars that did not conform to the mainstream. And it had a small legion of followers. Was this somehow a bad thing?

    Saab entered into a relationship with GM because it needed money. Unfortunately, it lost a lot of its independence and its cars lost some of their uniqueness. But at least it was still around. I saw glimmers of hope here and there. Maybe Victor Muller could have helped return Saab to some semblance of its former self? Instead, almost from the outset, he is ridiculed. Why? If Saab could have been saved, would this somehow have been a bad thing? I don’t disagree that the writing has been on the wall for a while, but I think a lot of the comments from the peanut gallery have been uncalled for.

  • avatar
    Marko

    I like to root for the underdog, but Saab is just a lost cause.

  • avatar
    seanx37

    “Muller is said to have a personal debt to Antonov of upwards of €100m”

    Well, I know one guy that is really hoping for the collapse of the euro.

    • 0 avatar
      jeff_vader

      Maybe thats why he’s stringing it out so long..

      Oh and while I’m here;

      “TTAC is obsessed. 10 negative Saab comments for every positive. On any other automotive journal (ie the reputable ones without biased moderation), its the exact opposite. All of these multiple user aliases aren’t fooling anyone.”

      Try going over to The Church Of The One True Saab and post anything they consider goes against the mantra of the Chosen Muller. They’ll ban you quicker than a Russian Businessman putting loan agreements through a shredder.

  • avatar
    makuribu

    Muller was off by an order of magnitude when it came to how much money was needed. Besides, GM sucked all the value out of the SAAB name long ago. Some would say the 96 was the last true SAAB, but even if you are optimistic, nothing after Generous Mother started playing in their parts bin has been a Swedish automobile. Buy my Impreza and stick a 9-2 badge on it if you wish, but there’s nothing left of SAAB but unpaid bills and pending lawsuits.

    I’m not gloating, but geez Louise, this parrot is dead. Beautiful plumage, but dead nonetheless.

    • 0 avatar
      jeff_vader

      It’s not dead, it’s stunned. All us nasty bloggers and those motoring journalists, stunned Saab just as Muller was waking it up.

      Its probably just pining for the fjords. Either that or a Viking funeral.

    • 0 avatar
      TEXN3

      I think it goes back to FIAT’s involvement. The 9000 attempted to push SAAB into the executive/entry-luxury bracket, where (like Volvo) it didn’t really need to belong.

      • 0 avatar
        Paul W

        It wasn’t a real choice, they were FORCED to retreat to the premium segment. The alternative was to stay and get eaten alive by Corollas, Camrys and Accords. The decision made, and still makes, perfect sense. It’s just that everyone can’t be Audi, someone has to get stuck or left behind as everyone rushes for the door.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    I do have a question to ask, since this is the first SAAB article I’ve posted in. What is the desire for SAAB to live? The only way for this to really happen is if a Chinese company buys SAAB, is this really the legacy that SAAB fans want? I guess if I was big into the history of a car company who believes the cars have a soul and character, I sure would hope for the company to stay European and not be gutted only for it’s (dwindling) dealer network and intellectual property (whatever there may be). I’ve driven SAABs before, some were a bit fun but you sure won’t get back what you had if the owners are even further disconnected than GM was with SAAB’s product development. The most SAAB product, in terms of driving capabilities, efficiency, and price was quite honestly the 9-2.

    I guess I don’t understand the clinging and hate towards those that don’t have their blinders on. Companies come and go, this has happened for centuries now regardless of the industry.

    I should add that I have nothing against Chinese ownership, as the work-issued ThinkPad I’m using is still the quality product since I started using them 15 years ago. But, if I was a fan of Grundig, I’d be a bit upset that Chinese companies are using that brand and it’s legacy for rebadging products sold in the US and Europe.

  • avatar

    It is getting beyond the point of sheer embarrassment. Just came in on Saabsunited: “administrator Guy Lofalk is right now trying to launch a new ownership structure with GM for Saab.(…)A Chinese regional fund, that takes on 60% of the ownership in Saab is the solution that Guy Lofalk is trying to launch with GM. He has also tried to pursue Pang Da and Youngman to settle for 20% each, according to Dagens Industri. Guy Lofalk’s suggestion is a test-balloon to GM to see what kind of response he will get in order to get talks going, according to a source to Dagens Industri.”

    For God’s sake, a “test balloon”. Just ask GM what it wants or not. To answer TEXN3′s question “What is the desire for SAAB to live?” Well, Saab could have been where Volvo is right now. I do think that Ford did a better job in looking after Volvo.

    • 0 avatar
      TEXN3

      But is that best for the future of Volvo? At some point in the future, I see the brands becoming less visible in the US and maybe even Europe as their parent companies start to migrate the production and sales to emerging Asian markets (China, India).

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    ” Latvian officials on Wednesday said about 100 million lats ($200 million) was stripped out of Latvyas Kraybank to fund Antonov’s investment projects, including the ill-fated Saab bid.

    And the investigation is ongoing, as BBC reports that

    [Lithuanian prosecutors] said they were investigating everything that might have links to criminal offences.”

    So, what country is it, Latvia or Lithuania?

  • avatar
    Jasper2

    I am sending my resume to SAAB today.
    I too want to get paid for staying home.
    In fact, I may also send my resume to Saabsunited, I am also a good fiction writer.

  • avatar
    saabista63

    Regardless of what GM could or should have done in the past to support SAAB, I think that the position GM takes now is in the long run better for SAAB and SAAB’s brand identiy – in case SAAB will survive its present crisis. Which is exactly what I hope it will.

    I have never been in support of any solution that would “let Antonov in” – and I honestly have to say, I didn’t have any idea why. There was some kind of uneasy feeling. That’s it.
    Just as well, I’m not at all in favour of any 100% Chinese takeover solution.
    I see SAAB as an independent car-builder, owned by different partners that are willing to keep it that way. Period.

    And, by the way, I’m 100% convinced that without Victor Muller there would be no SAAB now, and there will be no SAAB in the future. Whatever is going to happen, he did what he did. He’s not a hero, and he made mistakes. But if SAAB survives, he’ll be among the ones who made it possible.

  • avatar
    kid cassady

    Thank you for actually reporting the situation like a journalist and not resorting to juvenile digs at other bloggers’ physical fitness like your fellow editor.

  • avatar
    Keith_93

    We are standing by for Saab’s announcement of agreement to possibly create an MOU of future understanding with definite possible intent to go forward to an advanced MOU (MOU2) that most certainly could lead to a pre – agreement with future possibilities for synergistic enterprise.

    …..

  • avatar
    jaspers

    This will never end. Ever.


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