When you’re in conversation with a self-described urbanist, it’s usually impossible to avoid numerous references to Amsterdam, that progressive utopia of bikes, tulips, marijuana-smoking tourists, and more bikes.
Well, expect to hear about it even more, now that Dutch parliament has passed a Dutch Labor Party motion to ban the sale of internal combustion vehicles in that country after 2025, according to Auto Express. The bill, which requires senate approval to become the law of the land, would see existing gas and diesel vehicles grandfathered, and the sale of new ones banned. (Read More…)
Now that Sergio Marchionne has succeeded in joining Fiat and Chrysler together, for his next act he’s planning on moving Fiat’s headquarters out of Italy. While such a move has tax advantages, it would present a political and public relations challenge for Fiat and Marchionne in their home country. According to Reuters, the new entity, dubbed Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, will be a Dutch-based company with a UK tax domicile, while shares are listed on the NYSE with a secondary listing in Milan.
Marchionne is aware that locating the headquarters outside of Italy, where Fiat has operated for 115 years and has received government funding, or outside the United States, where Chrysler was bailed out by the federal government, could make waves and there is the possibility that the Italian government might intervene. “I’ve seen weirder things happen,” Marchionne said to journalists at the recent Detroit auto show. “So I sincerely hope they don’t create obstacles.” (Read More…)
1,400 new cars, most of them Mitsubishis on their way from Japan and Thailand to Finland went to the bottom of an icy North Sea when the 485 foot car carrier Baltic Ace sunk off the coast of the southern Netherlands last night. (Read More…)
Victor Muller managed to sell out to China after all. Today it was announced (full press release here) that Muller’s Spyker and former Saab suitor Youngman will form two companies. Spyker calls them “joint ventures,” but they look more like companies owned mostly by Youngman, with Spyker holding a token share. (Read More…)
As expected, troubled Saab has been thrown a lifeline by China’s Hawtai. Spyker announced today that its Swedish unit Saab has secured €150 million ($222.5 million) in funding from Hawtai. The Chinese company will be able to produce and sell Saab cars in China.
Hawtai will invest €120 million for a 29.9 percent stake in Spyker and provide a €30 million ($44.6 million) convertible loan to Saab. If the convert is exercised (which is pretty much a given – it matures in 6 months with a 7 percent interest rate) it converts at €4.88 a share, says the Wall Street Journal. (Read More…)
Yesterday, Spyker CEO Muller said everything is peachy. Saab “is not on the verge of collapse,” Muller said to a rapt audience of reporters, while, as Reuters snidely remarked, “Saab was presenting new vehicles already shown at the Geneva auto show.” Muller promised that “a small glitch does not change the fact that cars are being made,” and that Saab would have the widest and newest range in its history next year. This year? No problem at all. Just that output would be more weighted towards the second half of the year. Which in itself would be a miracle, and outpacing the competition, because in Europe, auto sales are more weighted towards the first half of the year. This was yesterday. Now is today. (Read More…)
While other manufacturers have problems getting parts, Saab has problems getting parts. But for different reasons.
“Production at Saab stopped for a second day on Wednesday as the money-losing automaker faces payment problems with its suppliers,” reports Automotive News [sub]. They add that Saab said it will start production again on Thursday, after money problems have been settled. According to the Automotive News report, Saab made a very inadvisable move: They did not pay their shipping company. (Read More…)
Remember the 4 “dead brands” walking? Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer and Saab? Seems like a long time ago. Who’d have thought Saab would be the last brand standing? Arguably, the one of the weakest brands of them all. At least Hummer and Saturn had genuine interest. But Saab found a Dutch white knight (a white knight with a 3 legged horse and a rusty sword), in Spyker and survived. It really started heads scratching as to how a damaged brand and a never profitable car maker could survive in an industry where size is king. But it seems the Dutch-Swedish venture may be getting some help from an unlikely source. (Read More…)
When Spyker bought Saab from GM, they bit off too much than they can chew. Spyker is upside down, under water, or whatever you call it when you have negative equity. They just announced that their debt exceeds their capital. And it looks like they have been dipped by GM: “The negative equity is due to the preferred shares that were issued to GM.” (Read More…)
Ah, the tangled web of automotive high finance. Victor Muller, CEO and largest shareholder of Dutch automaker Spyker Cars said “oops” (or Dutch words to that effect) and reduced his voting interest is Spyker from 34.3 percent to 26.8 percent.
Why? It just dawned on Muller (or his CPAs) that with more than 30 percent he would have had to make a buyout offer for the rest of the shares. After having gobbled up Saab through complex dealings involving Russian money of dubious provenance, being forced to buy out the whole company because of some silly law wasn’t a high priority for Muller.
Rules are rules, so what’s a newly minted tycoon to do? (Read More…)
Saab is in full re-start mode. A few days ago, we reported that Saab is re-starting incentives. Now, they are re-starting production. Germany’s Automobilwoche [sub] reports that “after a one and a half month pause, Saab is building cars again.” Now under the ownership of the Dutch boutique maker Spyker. They even hired a new sales chief, Adrian Hallmark, formerly Executive Director Asia at Volkswagen AG and Executive Vice President at Volkswagen of America. According to Automobilwoche, Hallmark faces “a formidable task.” (Read More…)
Last November, Dutch lawmakers approved the first“pay-as-you-drive” tax system in Europe. A GPS gizmo, promptly dubbed “Spionagekastje” (“spy box,”) by the Dutch, was supposed to record where and when people would drive in the land of cheese, tulips, and koffie shops. With the information collected by the mandatory kastje, the Dutch government intended to fleece its motorized citizenry according to distance driven, along with size and engine of the car. That concept immediately launched a discussion in Europe whether other countries should be given the same Dutch treat. The Netherlands won’t be setting a trend in that matter. Dearly beloved, the Spionagekastje is dead. (Read More…)
So you thought the Saab deal is done? A deal is never done until the check clears. Speaking of clearing, Laurence Stassen, a member of the European Parliament, and a member of the Dutch Partij voor de Vrijheid(a right-of-the-center party in the Netherlands) is seeking clarification from Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes.
Vrouw Stassen wants to know if there is any forbidden state aid involved in the Saab/Spyker deal, the Dutch news site NU.NL reports. The Swedish government guarantees a loan of €400m, which Spyker then is supposed to get from the European Investment Bank. Spyker is, well, banking on that money. (Read More…)