Whenever a CEO says “bankruptcy is not an option,” you know the game is up. After complaining in this Swedish Radio interview (in English) that his court-appointed administrator is trying to sell Saab off wholesale to the Chinese, Victor Muller trots out Churchillian and Nietszchian calls to arms… in fact, he does everything short of bursting into a spirited rendition of “I Will Survive.” Unfortunately, Muller’s credibility is long gone, and he doesn’t help himself by trying to portray Lofalk as some traitorous backstabber. With Saab months (years? decades?) into its death-flails, and the most recent “rescuer” turning out to be a non-player, is it any wonder Lofalk wants to hand over the mess to the only viable companies involved (especially when Muller calls North Street a “strong partner”)? Muller continues to labor under two basic delusions: first, that he can sell a majority share to the Chinese while keeping Saab an essentially Swedish (or at least European) company and second, that anyone cares whether Saab becomes a Chinese company. Sorry Victor, there’s just nothing left here to fight for…
Category: Chapter 11
The man in the weineresque photograph is Alex Mascioli, head of North Street Capital in Greenwich, Conn. Supposedly, he will come up with $70 million by this weekend to save Saab form the abyss once more. Not much is known about the man – Wait, I take that back. Read More >
Guy Lofalk, the administrator of Saab’s reorganization, will ask the court in Vänersborg to terminate the reorganization process. Before, Saab expressed “doubts that the bridge funding of Youngman and Pang Da, of which a partial payment has been received, shall be paid in full on 22 October 2011.” Finally something we can agree on.
What happens if the court accepts Lofalk’s recommendation? Stockholm News explains it:
Death with Dignity apparently does not exist in Victor Muller’s vocabulary, as Reuters reports that the CEO of Saab’s parent company will receive loans from prospective investor Youngman in order to ward off liquidation in Swedish bankruptcy court. Youngman has committed some $97m in bridge loan financing to the troubled Swedish automaker, of which Saab has received $15m so far and will receive more payments this week in order to pay salaries and other expenses. Saab spokeswoman Gunilla Gustavs explains
“We are putting bridge financing in place so we can fund business during the reorganisation — so we don’t incur new debt. We have running costs, such as electricity, that we need to take care of. There are a number of business-critical operations that need to be funded”
Saab’s salaries are currently guaranteed by the Swedish government as part of Saab’s bankruptcy protection, but that guarantee expires on October 21, just before October salaries are due. Missing that payment would likely have spelled the end of Saab, but with Youngman’s money arriving in dribs and drabs it seems that we may be documenting the firm’s undignified collapse for another month or so.
Pangda’s Chairman Pang Qinghua was not in Stockholm as reported. He was in Chengdu. At least today. As you can see above, he smiled into TTAC’s camera. At the sidelines of the conference, Chairman Pang had told Fang Yan of Reuters:
“Now that it’s in bankruptcy protection, all previous pacts are invalid. It’s up to the court to decide. It can also find a new partner.”
Talking to Fang Yan again, Pang qualified the statement:
“What I meant was that during restructuring, the court is authorised to adapt any restructuring plans, including vetoing previous agreements. It’s up to the one handling the reorganisation to decide whether previous agreements are valid or not. I am sticking to the commitment. Yes, I am confident about it.”
Saab calls the initial comments a “misunderstanding,” and Victor Muller apparently texted Reuters to say the deal with both PangDa and Youngman are “on track.” But, as Bertel reported yesterday, the real issue is whether or not Saab has any intellectual property to bring to the table. If not, the Chinese government will not approve the deal, regardless of how optimistic Muller, Pang, or the Swedish bankruptcy administrator who controls Saab’s fate are. The furor over Pang’s comments have provided a temporary smokescreen for that issue, but it won’t last…
Saab is on court ordered life support. On appeal, the Court of Appeals for Western Sweden has approved Saab’s request for protection from creditors. Saab can now attempt a business reconstruction without the threat of imminent bankruptcy, The Local reports. Read More >
Writing these Saab stories is becoming as much fun as visiting a fading relative in a hospice: You have to do it, but you want to get it behind you, quickly. Today is the day a court in Sweden will decide whether it admits Saab’s appeal of a prior court decision that would have forced the Swedes into bankruptcy. In the meantime, Victor Muller came up with another plan. Read More >
That’s not us making the prediction. Stockholm News says that “Saab’s fate could be decided on Tuesday.” On Monday, the Court of Appeals will meet and will deliberate whether Saab will be allowed to appeal the District Court’s denial of a reconstruction.
Stockholm News does not expect a decision until Tuesday. But it predicts: Read More >
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: Read More >
Whenever we report about the machinations around Saab, the faithful remind us that there are real people affected. They are right. Some of the real people work for IAC for instance, one of Saab’s largest suppliers. Half of the production of its factory in Färgelanda went to Saab.IAC Sweden could be bankrupt in a few weeks because they don’t’ have the money to pay a 95 million kronor ($ 14.8 million) tax bill, Sweden’s Göteborg Posten reports. Read More >
This was the headline many Saab aficionados were looking for (and we have the emails to prove it.) On Saab’s darkest day, we might as well put a smile on the faces of Saab’s most militant missionaries – even if the smile lasts only a few seconds.
Yesterday, Sweden’s Dagens Industri reported that Saab would seek court protection today. We did not report it, because honestly, we are tired of the story. On the other hand, there were signs that things are heading to the court: Saabsunited tried its hand again on amateur spin and wrote that bankruptcy, should it happen, wouldn’t be all that bad: “It does NOT mean that SAAB is in any way dead tomorrow!” Glad this is cleared up.
This morning, employees of Saab were woken from sleep (they’ve become used to sleeping in since April) and called for an all hands meeting at 12 noon. At the meeting, they heard: Read More >
Bloomberg [via the Financial Post] reports that “one of the five biggest European banks” is “close” to loaning Saab $157m so that it may pay workers and suppliers, in order to move towards restarting production. According to DI.se, the deal is predicated on Saab securitizing the loan with shares of Saab Great Britain or other “alternative assets.” But apparently whatever the banks ask for, Saab will try to give, as Theodoor Gilissen Bankiers analyst Tom Muller explains
They need the money immediately. I hope they solve it this week, otherwise I think it’s over for Saab. It’s a very dire situation.
He’s not kidding…
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.
Saab has already warned its workers that paychecks due tomorrow could be delayed until “committed” funds from investors arrive, but Bloomberg reports that the warning may not be enough. According to the report
Any delay in the August payments will prompt the unions immediately to start a process aimed at ensuring state coverage of wages in the event of the carmaker’s failure, officials from the IF Metall and Unionen labor groups said. The unions, after gaining employees’ backing, would first file payment requests with Saab. If salaries remain unpaid in seven days, the unions may then ask a district court to declare Saab bankrupt.
That could put Saab into bankruptcy in as little as two weeks. Saab’s long nightmare seems to be drawing to a close.
Read More >