Even after its death, Saab is still good for some excitement. Today, the Wall Street Journal breathlessly reported that an “electric-vehicle consortium buys Saab assets.” When you click on the link in Google, you get your assets handed to you via a rude 404: Page not found. The same is happening with many sites that reported a sale of Saab’s assets to a company called National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), which is as Swedish as chopsticks.
What is behind those missing links? Who is the nice man who goes thumbs up next to China Communist Party Polit Bureau member Li Keqiang? And why has he allegedly just bought Saab?
Trollhättan’s newspaper TTELA reported yesterday (translation via The :Local) that “the sale of assets of bankrupt Swedish automaker Saab is complete.” The source was Trollhättan’s city manager Annika Wennerblom who told the Trollhättan newspaper that the deal is done. Hope springs eternal and makes a bad editor. Even worse, an unchecked story raced around the globe, leaving a string of 404s in its wake as editors hastily yanked the erroneous story.
Hours later, Trollhättan spokesman Peter Asp, called the news “Wennerblom’s own speculation that went awry.” He stated that “neither she, nor our local councilor Paul Akerlund, nor I have been informed that the administrators have completed their work.”
Now, NEVS spokesman Mikael Ostlund only wants to “confirm that NEVS is interested in buying Saab Automobile’s assets.” This is old hat. The allegedly Swedish company National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) had been rumored for a while as a bidder for the Saab assets that are on the block in a bankruptcy sale. What is more interesting is who is behind that freshly minted National Electric Vehicle Sweden.
It is two shadowy companies.
One company, often played into the foreground, is a low profile Japanese investment company named “Sun Investment LLC.”
The other company is National Modern Energy Holdings. According to media reports, this company is registered in the British Virgin Islands, but is in turn owned by a Hong Kong based company named China Dragon Base Holdings.
“And behind it all stands the Swede Johan Kai Jiang,” writes TTELA, happily translated by our friends and fans at Saabsunited.
Here he is. Alleged Swede Kai Johan Jiang became famous for turning garbage into power. Literally.
Kai Johan Jiang was born in 1965 in China’s Shandong province. As Jiang Dalong, definitely not as a Kai Johan. Later, Jiang became a minor celebrity in China. His Beijing-based Dragon Power Group received an RMB 28 billion ($4.4 billion) loan from the Chinese state-owned enterprise China Construction Bank, which provided the capital for the National Bio Energy Company, a subsidiary of Dragon Power, to construct biomass plants across the country.
Later, Dragon Power was renamed to State Power Group, Ltd., and Kai Johan Jiang is the Chairman of that Chinese power company. State Power Group sounds confusingly similar to China’s energy moloch State Grid, and Jiang likes it that way. Writes China Daily:
“Chinese energy giant State Grid Corp, through its subsidiary National Bio Energy and China’s Dragon Power Group Ltd have invested in a Swedish bio-energy joint venture called NBE Sweden. “Our investment in cellulose-based ethanol production in Sweden is aimed at developing technology for biomass power generation projects in China,” said Kai Johan Jiang, chairman of Dragon Power Group and National Bio Energy Group Ltd China.”
In this 2004 picture, Kai Johan Jiang, (right) explains the garbage to power process to Wu Bangguo, Chairman of the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress.
A year later, Kai Johan Jiang is seen with a Chinese government delegation led by Liu Qi, member of the CCCPC Polit Bureau, Secretary of the Party Committee of Beijing Municipality, touring a biomass power plant in Denmark.
In this 2010 picture, “top leaders Liu Qi, Liu Yandong and Guo Jinlong, etc. listen to Chairman Kai Johan Jiang’s report at the 13th China Beijing International High-Tech Exposition.“ We already met Liu Qi. Liu Yandong is a member of the Communist Party’s Politburo and State Councilor, Guo Jinlong is Beijing Deputy Party Secretary and mayor of Beijing.
The fact that Swede Kai Johan Jiang wasn’t always a Swede becomes obvious in a few seconds. The rest can be found through a few hours of googling and some phone calls. The true scandal is how many dewy-eyed Saab blogs keep polishing the Swedish charade. They stress that Kai Johan Jiang was “a senior adviser for Volvo,” they look the other way when the newly minted Swede appears on the side of Politbureau members. They write that the senior adviser worked for Volvo from “1993 through 2000.” They forget that the senior adviser’s career started at a youthful age of 28. They also forget that Kai Johan Jiang is China’s conduit into western energy infrastructure. They also overlook that the former Volvo adviser Kai Johan Jiang is also “an economic adviser to the Shandong provincial government on policy matters.” That job however, is performed under his Chinese name Jiang Dalong.
Here, Kai Johan gives an interview to a Swedish TV station.
The keep-Saab-alive blogs also play up that Japanese venture capital company, possibly knowing that it is hard to get information on a Japanese company. Unless you are in Japan.
Even then, this one is a hard nut to crack. Simply because “Sun Investment LLC” does not exist, at least not as a Japanese corporation. Not surprisingly, because there is no LLC in Japan. There is, however, a company called Ippan Shadanhojin Taiyo Keizai No Kai, a.k.a. “Sun-based Economy Association.” It was founded last year in Tokyo with a Sanefumi Sammy Shoji as a partner. Shoji, who twitters as @Samdog45, is not a deep-pocketed financier. Shoji-san graduated in 2003 from the Tokyo University as a Master of Planetary Science, then he was hired out of school by Goldman Sachs. He left in 2009 in the wake of the Lehman shock that severely thinned the herd of bankers and patrons of Roppongi bars. Shoji dabbled for two years in the “boutique clean technology/investment firm” by the name of Japan Core Partners, before helping to launch the “clean technology-focused venture capital firm” that is erroneously called Sun Investment LLC.
Art this point, a little excursion into the byzantine world of Chinese capitalism is in order. Companies in Hong Kong, the Virgin Islands and oddly enough Japan are favorite vehicles for investments in China. The bulk of “foreign” companies investing in China are companies registered in offshore tax havens, financed with recycled money from China. These companies also are a favorite stepping stone for Chinese companies that want to invest elsewhere without immediately rubbing it in that they are Chinese.
Because Caribbean-registered, and even Hong Kong based companies have the onus of fast money, smarter Chinese ventures like to use Japanese companies as alleged parents. Often, after a little scratching on the Japanese lacquer, the Chinese veneer comes through.
Ippan Shadanhojin Taiyo Keizai No Kai is the perfect vehicle for this. The office of the company is on the 6th floor of a fancy Tokyo building near the Japanese Emperor’s residence. One wrong step, and you land in the Emperor’s moat. More than 100 tenants are in this building. Taiyo Keizai No Kai resides in the same office as Japan Core Partners. They share phone and fax. The address is also used as the secretariat of the Biomass Expo 2012. The same company occasionally organizes get-togethers with Chinese business interests.
The “Taiyo Keizai No Kai” can loosely be translated as “Sun Ecology Group”. An “Ippan Shadanhojin” is an intermediate company, halfway between profit and non-profit. (On its Facebook page, the sunny company bills itself as a non-profit, a perfect partner for Saab.) Typically, an “Ippan Shadanhojin” represents Cayman-based Special Purpose Vehicles in Japan. This is not a deep-pocketed investment company. It is a stand-in for someone else. Taiyo Keizai No Kai has as much history and experience as National Electric Vehicle Sweden, i.e. the history and experience of a toddler. Draw your own conclusions.
Back to our main man, the Swede from China. In an interview, Kai Johan Jiang remembered his days in poverty in rural Shandong province, and said that he does “not care that much for personal wealth.”
He is the perfect man to invest into Saab. As history shows, Saab is the ideal vehicle to destroy wealth.