The Truth About Cars » Lofalk The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 30 Jul 2014 14:05:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Lofalk Our Daily Saab: Lurid Crime Stories And An Unwelcome Bank Wire Sat, 10 Dec 2011 15:40:02 +0000

Actually, we shouldn’t even mention Saab before the court in Vänersborg renders its verdict on Dec 16. The court will decide whether it follows the suggestion of the court appointed administrator Guy Lofalk to lift the creditors protection on Saab.  But it’s a slow newsday, and Saab is always good for a story.  No, we don’t mean the €3,322,993.13 allegedly transferred by Youngman. No, we are not referring to the latest round of hamfisted censorship at Saab’s enthusiast site. We are talking about a story that is making the rounds on websites that specialize on the activities of the Russian mob. They insist that Saab’s darling Antonov “has been involved in a number of financial scams before.” The mobster tracking site Rumafia says:

A few years ago Antonov moved almost all Snoras’ liquid assets, $400-500 million worth, to foreign accounts. He disguised the fraud under a series of loans which the bank allocated to front companies with no real asset backing.”

Hmmm. No real asset backing?

The same site also alleges that the money to buy Saab from GM came trough dubious channels under hair-raising circumstances. Let’s join the story right after Antonov’s father was gunned down in Moscow:

“Alexander Antonov who received five bullets, remained the invalid. They were not going to come back to Russia any more, therefore they asked the chairman of board of “Investbank” Maxim Skachko and his assistant Igor Dubina to transfer abroad $400 million. Money transaction was carried out under the pretext of delivery of credits to various structures and without approval of board of directors of the bank. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, $200 million from this sum went on acquisition of motorcar giant Saab. Officially firm Spykers Cars became its buyer, 30 which % of actions belong to Antonovym.”

We don’t know whether these stories are true, but they are out there. Follow the links above, or peruse Google for a healthy dose of crime stories. We only quoted the tamer stuff to keep it SFW in case you are working over the weekend.

Now for the €3.3 million. Saabsunited today proudly presents a scan of a wire transfer instruction, in which Youngman tells its bank to wire €3,322,993.13 to Swedish Automobile Coöperatief  in Zeewolde, The Netherlands, via the Rabobank, SWIFT RABONL2U. The Coöperatief is the Special Purpose Vehicle that had been set up in September to put the unfinished  PhoeniX platform in hock. Back when, we wrote:

“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.“

Administrator Guy Lofalk is taking the same position and reported to the court in Vänersborg that

Saab Automobile AB incurred new obligations during the reorganization, in violation of the instructions given and the provisions of Chapter 2, § 15 Act on corporate restructuring.”

That’s a big no-no under Swedish law. Can’t be protected from creditors and pile on new debt. Saabsunited quickly defends the accused:

This payment is part of a technology purchase made by Youngman Automotive Group from Saab Automobile which should help to pay salaries for the month of November. This technology purchase contract singled back in september. Of course this money is not enough to pay the complete salaries once it arrives at Saab’s accounts but it is one step on the way.”

How an innocent enthusiast website comes into possession of a wire transfer copy which usually is sent from accountant to accountant only to show that the funds are on their way remained anybody’s guess – - – until  Saabsunited Chief TimR proudly wrote:

 “It was sent from Martyn Shilte, CEO Spyker China to Guy Lofalk with a cc to people such as Rachel Pang and Kristian Geers at 10:30 on the 9th of december. I have seen the original e-mail with the original attachment!”

Consider TTAC in awe. We have never been on the CC: when wire transfers between international auto giants were confirmed. A superb piece of investigative reporting.

Sending the document to Guy Lofalk however was not smart. On the same day, Guy Lofalk asked the court to throw the book at Saab. With that, we’ll bid adieu from Saab until Dec. 16 (unless something interesting pops up).

PS: Advice from someone who routinely sends and receives bank wires in China: The wire instruction is worthless. You want to see the actual confirmation by the bank that the money was actually sent. As exhaustively discussed here, transferring money from China requires a certain amount of really red tape and extra documentation.

PPS: Due to the untimely passing of the page in question, we provide a link to the original document for the convenience of our readers. (Just in case the picture will be completely exorcised from SU’s computer, hat tip to Gruhm.) According to the metadata, the scan was taken retouched on 12/10/2011 at 10:24 AM with Photoshop CS4 Macintosh.  As for the original webpage,  unless a reader has a copy, it’s gone. Even the Waybackmachine has given up on Saab  - -  last picture taken on July 15th 2011. Before, the archiving robot visited The Church Of The True Saab twice monthly. Advice from a dinosaur automotive propaganda operative: Crisis PR is a subtle art which is better left in the hands of trained professionals.

PPPS: I appears as if TTAC has picked up a good number of former (disappointed? disillusioned? shunned? banned?) Saabsunited readers. Make yourself at home.

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Our Daily Saab: Unplugged Wed, 07 Dec 2011 16:38:49 +0000

December 16 is the day Saab’s fate will be decided. Court appointed administrator Guy Lofalk, who yesterday was ready to pull the plug, pulled it today. Currently, Saab is under creditor protection. However, Lofalk asked the Vänersborg District Court to lift the protection, opening the door to final bankruptcy. In a statement cited by Reuters, Lofalk said:

“Since the required funding has not been received and the stated schedule not been kept, the (Saab) companies lack the ability to pay upcoming liabilities.”

Lofalk also named General Motors’ unwillingness to approve proposed deals. GM had driven what looks like the final nail in the coffin, by denying the deal that was proposed a few days ago:

“We have reviewed Saab’s proposed changes regarding the sale of the company. Nothing in the proposal changes GM’s position. We are unable to support the transaction.”

GM appears to be unwilling to support any sale involving its technology, and without that technology, Saab is worthless. The proposed investors, including a Russian banker who had his banks taken away and who is out on bail, an alleged hedge fund of doubtful pedigree, and a Chinese busmaker, did not install much confidence.

The court in Sweden gave Saab and its creditors until December 15 to submit their opinions. A day after, the court will render a decision. Says Reuters:

“Ending protection from creditors would open the way for them to file for Saab’s bankruptcy. The court already has one claim, which is under suspension.”

Even at Saabsunited, the last bastion of optimism, the moral is sinking:

“Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.”

Automotive News China [sub] reports that “Saab Automobile AB is holding discussions with China’s Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile and a Chinese bank over borrowing about 600 million euros (5 billion yuan) over two years.”

The source of that news is Victor Muller. Basically, what he is proposing is that instead of buying stock, the investment will be made as a loan, most likely secured by what is left of Saab. Good luck with that.

If Saab defaults on the loan, the lender would end up with a Saab shouldered with humongous legacy costs, and with no technology from GM.

Muller told Bloomberg he would need the loan in a “very few days” to avert bankruptcy.

In a very few days? A loan? From China? Is that Muller’s way to say: “It’s over?”

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Our Daily Saab: Lofalk To Request Mercy Killing, Saab To Request Lofalk’s Ouster Thu, 20 Oct 2011 16:23:54 +0000

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:

“If the voluntary reorganization will be terminated is determined by Vänersborg District Court. It would mean that the resting bankruptcy claims against the company comes back into force.
The Swedish Enforcement Authority would also resume its recovery of the about SEK 1.4 billion of debts that Saab owes suppliers.”

In other words: The end.

Lofalk doesn’t seem to be impressed by the last ditch offer from U.S. private-equity firm North Street Capital. It probably has something to do with the fact that the loan would be partially collateralized by assets other creditors might want to get their hands on. Interviewed by Reuters, Lofalk said the $70 million promised by North Street Capital on Thursday for Saab would be far from enough to continue reorganization – if it ever arrives:

“The money is not enough to continue the reorganization. Now, an application to terminate the reorganization has been mailed. It should be on the court’s desk tomorrow.”

Lofalk added that the $70 million promised by North Street Capital on Thursday for Saab was far from enough to continue reorganization.

Lofalk also has written-off Youngman and Pangda as saviors:

“I can just say that the parties didn’t manage to reach an agreement on a sale.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, Saab will contest Lofalk’s application and request that the reorganization continues. Saab will also ask the court to give the heave-ho to Lofalk, and to appoint a new administrator. That’s a lot to ask for. As a court-appointed administrator, Lofalk works for the court and for the creditors, he doesn’t work for Victor Muller.  The Vänersborg court had doubted the viability of the reconstruction in the first place and was overturned on appeal. What’s “I told you so” in Swedish?

The reaction in Swedish media – openly or between the lines – is that Lofalk wants to sell Saab lock, stock and barrel to the Chinese. He praised Youngman and Pangda, and implicitly blamed Muller for the failed negotiations. He wants Muller out  – apparently also because the Chinese want full control.

In an interview with The New York Times, Victor Muller echoed that suspicion:

“Mr. Lofalk  is completely focused on an ownership change. He wants to force Swedish Automobile to sell Saab.”

How would you decide as a Swedish judge?

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