About a year ago Bertel, Ed and I ended up in Los Angeles for a PR meet/dine with Coda. No automotive event would be complete without a drive and our electrifying dinner was no different. Bertel and Ed wisely chose to leave the driving to me (although they did toss me in the trunk and close the lid later that evening). Since that night I have struggled to erase the Coda from my mind when today it all came flooding back. Coda has filed for chapter 11 protection. I know it’s bad form to speak ill of the departed, but this is TTAC so let’s have a review style requiem for the worst EV ever made.
Tag: Chapter 11
Only 6 dealers haven’t taken a buyout offer from Suzuki – of the 219 Suzuki dealers in America, 213 took the offer from American Suzuki, including the top 50 dealers by volume.
Being a Suzuki dealer is surely one of America’s least enviable jobs; franchise holders must choose whether to accept a cash settlement and a contract to provide parts and service in exchange for their franchises, or whether they want to fight the matter in court.
American Suzuki has received court approval to borrow $45 million to help restructure their dealer network following a Chapter 11 filing.
A group of 41 Saab U.S. dealers today petitioned a U.S. Bankruptcy Court to put Saab Cars North America into involuntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Automotive News [sub] reports. Last Friday, the dealers had threatened to file a Chapter 7 for involuntary liquidation, but changed their minds. Leonard Bellavia, a lawyer representing most of Saab’s U.S. dealers, explains: (Read More…)
Brethren, we are once again gathered together to mourn the passing of another automobile company. Saab was of that rare breed of car that always had a band of devoted, aye, fanatical followers. In her prime, Saab could not fail to ignite the after-burners of anyone with a predilection to genuine character, speed, innovation, intelligence, and even sexy good looks (at times). Not bad for a company that never once designed a clean-sheet new engine and borrowed more platforms than Heidi Klum. But when you’re small and from Sweden, resourcefulness is essential: Saab finagled an existence in this brutal industry far longer than might have been expected. But now she joins an august group of other fallen automotive heroes in Valhalla: Borgward, Panhard, Tatra, Kaiser, Glas, TVR, Jowett, etc…better that then whoring herself to another rich benefactor. But Saab’s story is worth retelling. (Read More…)
After enduring a rocky relationship with Saab’s management, Guy Lofalk is officially out as court-appointed administrator for the ailing Swedish brand. But although Saab boss Victor Muller had long hoped for Lofalk’s ouster, the news wasn’t all good for his slow-motion “rescue,” as Lofalk’s first replacement had to step down before he even began his duties. Reuters calls the abortive administratorship of Lars-Henrik Andersson Saab’s “latest embarrassment,” but TTELA reports that Andersson’s “defection [was] not based on a pessimistic assessment of Saab.” On the other hand, at least one of Andersson’s colleagues thinks he dropped out because Saab is “screwed.”
In any case Soderqvist seems to be the last remaining Saabtimist in Sweden, insisting he believes in the new plan to save the zombie brand, and he will serve as long as he continues to have faith… so what’s the new plan anyway?
Saab’s Memorandum of Understanding with PangDa and Youngman expired today, returning Saab to what must by now be a rather comforting, familiar state of limbo. Of course, the MoU in question was already dead, as GM had publicly nixed it, saying it wouldn’t supply parts or license technology to a 100% Chinese-owned Saab. But now, without an official agreement to rally around, Swedish Automobile, PangDa and Youngman are desperately pitching new ownership structures to GM in hopes of approval. Swedish Auto’s Victor Muller tells the WSJ [sub]
We are submitting an information package to GM and we will have to await the feedback that GM has on that package and then we’ll know.
Muller says the lesson of the failed MoU is that GM won’t accept Chinese control, and as a result the new proposed ownership structure is “very carefully crafted” so that none of the three partners has complete control. But since the previous deal, in which PangDa and Youngman would split a 54% stake in Saab, is also off the table, it’s tough to say what Muller’s “carefully crafted structure” entails. And while Saab and its Chinese suitors wait for GM approval that may never come (but don’t tell Keith Crain [sub] that!), it seems both time and money are getting tight. Again. Still.
With Saab’s latest MOU with PangDa and Youngman expiring on Tuesday, the heat is on for parent company Swedish Automobile (SWAN) to hash out the many problems and disagreements between GM and the proposed Chinese buyers. And now that it’s fairly obvious that a deal won’t happen, as GM and the Chinese Government seem fairly well set against it, the question is “what next?” How do you plan an endgame that should have been initiated months, if not years ago? That’s the challenge being considered by the few remaining shareholders in SWAN, who are meeting in Holland to pick through the none-too appealing options.
On the last possible day to work out a deal before being forced into bankruptcy, the Victor Muller era has ended at Saab. The Swedish brand will now become a completely Chinese-owned company… if all goes to plan. A press release explains
Swedish Automobile N.V. (Swan) announces that it entered into a memorandum of understanding with Pang Da and Youngman for the sale and purchase of 100% of the shares of Saab Automobile AB (Saab Automobile) and Saab Great Britain Ltd. (Saab GB) for a consideration of EUR 100 million…
…The administrator in Saab Automobile’s voluntary reorganisation, Mr. Guy Lofalk, has withdrawn his application to exit reorganisation. The MOU is valid until November 15 of this year, provided Saab Automobile stays in reorganisation.
But remember, this is Saab… and its fate rests in the hands of many, many people not named Victor Muller. Despite the air of finality that is surrounding some of the media coverage of this latest announcement, this is not a done deal. The Saab saga rolls on…
With a Halloween deadline to get its restructuring back on track looming, Swedish Automobile has rejected an offer by Youngman and Pang Da to buy 100% of Saab’s shares. Moreover, the struggling Swedish brand has canceled the existing agreement with Youngman and Pang Da, its erstwhile would-be rescuers. A Saab presser notes:
Today, Swedish Automobile N.V. (Swan) announced that it has given notice of termination with immediate effect of the Subscription Agreement of July, 2011 entered into by Swan, Pang Da and Youngman.
Swan took this step in view of the fact that Pang Da and Youngman failed to confirm their commitment to the Subscription Agreement and the transactions on the agreed terms contemplated thereby as well as to explicit and binding agreements made on October 13, 2011 related to providing bridge funding to Saab Automobile AB (Saab Automobile) while in reorganization under Swedish law.
Pang Da and Youngman have presented Swan on October 19 and 22 with certain conditional offers for an alternative transaction for the purchase of 100 percent of the shares in Saab Automobile which are unacceptable to Swan. However, discussions between the parties are ongoing
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…
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.
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.