The Truth About Cars » Spyker The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:25:17 +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 » Spyker U.S. Court Shoots Down Saab Suit Against GM Tue, 11 Jun 2013 12:29:40 +0000

When Spyker sued GM for mucking with Saab’s failed deal with Youngman, and wanted $3 billion for its trouble, TTAC’s resident garage lawyers did not give Spyker big odds.

Yesterday, the suit was thrown out.

A U.S. federal judge said the GM had the right to block the sale of a company using its technology, Reuters reports. Said U.S. District Court Judge Gershwin Drain said in a hearing in Detroit:

“General Motors had a contractual right to approve or disapprove the proposed transaction. The court is going to grant the motion to dismiss the matter.”

Spyker Chief Victor Muller was in the court room. He did not want to say whether he would appeal. “We will be awaiting the written order and then we will assess,” Muller told Reuters.

The allegedly aggrieved entity was Saab and not Spyker. Saab went bankrupt, and its assets were bought by a murky Chinese entity. Spyker acquired the rights to sue GM. As usual, Muller did not use his own money. Back then, a Spyker press release said:

“Spyker has secured the financial backing required to see the lawsuit through to the end from a third party investor.”

More money down the drain.

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Tax Saabotage: Muller And Saab Board (=Muller) Target Of Swedish Government, Paper Says Thu, 30 May 2013 12:17:13 +0000 Victor Muller - Picture courtesy

Despite Victor Muller’s assurances that he is innocent, that he has not been accused of any crime, and that Sweden’s Economic Crime Authority most likely only wants to invite him for a friendly chat, Sweden’s  Göteborgs-Posten thinks it knows who is the target of the investigation:  Victor Muller, and Saab’s board. In the end, Victor Muller was alone on board.  Says the paper:

“From what Göteborgs-Posten learned, there is a clear link between the prosecutor’s recent suspicions about crimes by SAAB Automobiles former board and how Victor Muller was paid for his work from February 2010 to the bankruptcy in December 2012.”

“When Victor Muller, a major owner of Spyker Cars which bought SAAB Automobile in February 2010, joined SAAB’s leadership as chairman of the board, there was no written contract about how and for what he would get paid. Even so, invoices started to arrive from Muller’s companies in Latin America Tug Holding on the Dutch Antilles.”

An international tax consultant tells TTAC that disputes about consultancy agreements vs. salaries are common: “If there is a dispute, they ask first for a contract. If there is none,  bad news. If there is a contract, then they look for emails in which the contract was negotiated. If the contract just appeared out of thin air, bad news.  Then they look where the money went.”

According to Göteborgs-Posten, the money did not go to the Tug company, “but to Muller’s private bank account, as the investigations of the tax authorities show.” Apparently in a letter to Muller, those tax authorities worte:

“The evidence supports the conclusion that the purpose was that SAAB should give you compensation and that you would avoid paying taxes for this.”

Until SAAB’s bankruptcy in December 2011, about $1.2 million were paid in consulting fees to Victor Muller, the paper says.

“It was only in September 2011 that Victor Muller, when he was the only person in the leadership and the crisis in SAAB was escalating, that the consulting fees were regulated in a written agreement. The payments where thereby secured. 

The Tax Authorities sees this entire arrangement with consulting fees instead of salary for the job as chairman of the board as a ploy to make Victor Muller avoid paying taxes in Sweden for his work in SAAB Automobile. In September 2012 the Tax Authorities therefore decided to demand Victor Muller pay approx. 2 million SEK ($300,000) in tax.”

The paper concludes:

“The responsibility for errors in the conduct of SAABs accounting and reporting, and that SAAB paid a consulting fee instead of salary and that a substantial tax shortfall has happened, rests with the board of SAAB.“

In the end, Victor Muller sat alone on the board. On June 23, 2011, Saab’s General Counsel Kristina Gers stepped down from the board, a week after two union representatives defected.

In the meantime, Muller said through his favorite mouthpiece Saabsunited ,  that “the contract was approved by the National Debt Office  in 2010.” According to the information given to Göteborgs-Posten, no contract existed in 2010. The Debt Office told the paper that all it had to approve whether the “compensation was reasonable,” and that how taxes are paid would be up to Saab and Muller.

(Hat tip to a friend in  Sweden for a translation better than Google Translate.)
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Tax Saabotage: Swedish Economic Crime Authority To Question Muller Wed, 29 May 2013 13:29:39 +0000 Victor Muller - Picture courtesy

Former Saab Chairman Victor Muller “will be called in to answer questions related to a Swedish inquiry into alleged tax offenses at the bankrupt carmaker,” Sweden’s  Economic Crime Authority told Reuters.

When news spread last week that Muller will be called on the carpet, Victor took to his favorite mouthpiece, Saabsunited, and said it is not true:

“Nobody from the Swedish Authorities has ever tried to get in touch with me and I am sure they have my number so if they had wanted to, they would have certainly been able to do so.”

Katinka Wall, a spokeswoman at the Swedish Economic Crime Authority, told Reuters that Muller would be summoned as part of the wider investigation and that he is not being served as a suspect.

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Tax Saabotage: Victor Muller Named As Suspect Thu, 23 May 2013 07:43:12 +0000

Muller and lawyer Geers in court – Both are suspects of tax evasion

As suspected, the Swedish Saab scandal  over avoided taxes grows wider.  Yesterday, it reached the failed takeover artist Victor Muller. “Muller prime suspect in Saab tangle,” headlines Swedens Svenska Dagbladet, The paper obtained court documents that say Muller is wanted for questioning.

“Victor Muller is going to be called into the Financial Crimes Unit,” Chief Prosecutor Olof Sahlgren told the paper.  Says Reuters:

“Prosecutors are looking into allegations that executives at Saab, which collapsed in 2011, obstructed proper tax checks over the years 2010 to 2011, a turbulent time for the company, when it was sold by General Motors to small Dutch sports car maker Spyker, and when problems which led to its collapse emerged.”

While Saab continued losing all the money given to Muller by shady Russian financiers  and the European Investment Bank, and while therefore no taxes on profits were due, the Swedish government wanted its rich share of payroll taxes and social contributions. As suspected by TTAC commenter Piffpaff, the Muller case appears to focus on consulting payments made to Victor Muller’s  Latin America Tug Holding NV (later renamed to LAT Management NV), based in the Netherlands Antilles, Svenska Dagbladet says.

According to the files and the Stockholm paper, some $540,000 were invoiced by Muller’s tugboat company in the tax haven. The prosecutor thinks Saab’s management should have paid taxes and social security contributions on Muller’s compensation. Invoices from entities in tax havens are a favorite tool for tax avoidance.

Prosecutor Sahlgren told the Dagbladet that Muller has not been formally charged with a crime. However, by law, Muller “is responsible for the company because he has been a director, president, and later CEO of Saab.”

The scandal could widen. According to the prosecutor, more people could come under suspicion. The matter also is likely to involve generous bonus payments made to Victor Muller when Saab was going down the drain. Unusually high payments to the boss, especially before a bankruptcy rarely fail to attract the attention of the prosecutor.

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Return Of The Zombies: Spyker, Youngman, Phoenix Mon, 27 Aug 2012 13:39:05 +0000


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.

The first company is called Spyker P2P.  It will make the Spyker D8 luxury SUV (caught above by Carnewschina.) Spyker contributes the technology and the Spyker trademarks for a 25 percent share of Spyker P2P. Youngman will make a €25 million cash contribution (over time) for 75 percent of the shares. “P2P” does not stand for “pay to play” as you may assume, but for “Peking-to-Paris,” another moniker for the Spyker D8. The car is supposed to see the light in 2014, but with only 25 million in funding, it will need more money, a lot more.

The second and more interesting company is called Spyker Phoenix. According to the press release, “Youngman will contribute the rights to the Phoenix platform as developed by Saab Automobile AB in 2010/2011 to which Youngman acquired a license in 2011 as well as provide all required funding.”  Youngman will hold 80 percent, Spyker will hold 20. The company “shall develop and manufacture a new full range of premium car models based on the Phoenix platform which models will be positioned higher than the comparable Saab models were. Spyker Phoenix products may be manufactured in Europe and China as the case may be.”

In addition, Youngman will invest €10 million into Spyker itself.  €6.7 million buy 29.9 percent of  Spyker  (and hence another 6 percent of  the Phoenix company and another 7.5 percent of the P2P deal,) €3.3 million will come as a shareholder loan.

How did Youngman end up with Phoenix after their advances to buy the assets of bankrupt Saab were rebuffed?  Before Saab finally went bankrupt, the rights to the Phoenix platform were transferred to a Spyker-controlled special purpose vehicle, and used as collateral for a loan from Youngman that was never paid in full. When Saab went belly-up, I wrote

“I wouldn’t be surprised if a license for the PhoeniX platform won’t suddenly show up at Youngman, pledged as security for some of the money that had been paid. Then, GM will say that Phoenix IP is mostly theirs, and there will be a protracted and messy lawsuit.”

The first part of that prediction came true today. For the second part, we probably will have to wait a while, most likely until the first Phoenix cars are built, if they ever will.

Youngman will need government approval for the investment in a foreign company, and either foreign company will need government approval for joint venture production in China.


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Get The Pöpcørn: Spyker Sues GM For 3 Billion Mon, 06 Aug 2012 13:39:47 +0000


That was the first comment  from the acolytes of the recently a bit depressed fansite Saabsunited, when it was announced that Victor Muller’s Spyker sued GM for $3 billion over Saab’s bankruptcy.

“It’s hard to believe. We have no comment until we see the lawsuit,” said GM spokesman James Cain to Reuters. The complaint is attached to this message.

According to a statement by the propeller-brand, Saab’s bankruptcy was GM’s fault:

“GM’s actions had the direct and intended objective of driving Saab Automobile into bankruptcy, a result of GM’s … interfering with a transaction between Saab Automobile, Spyker and Chinese investor Youngman that would have permitted Saab Automobile to restructure and remain a solvent, going concern.”

Spyker sued for “tortious interference with economic ecpectancy”  (translation: GM mucked with Saab’s deal with Youngman to protect itself from competition in China.)  The suit was brought in the U.S. District Court for the eastern district of Michingan (Soutrhern Division.)

Now isn’t the aggrieved entity Saab and not Spyker? Sure it is.  Saab’s new owners apparently don’t see much merit in the lawsuit. Says the press release:

“Since Saab Automobile is in receivership and hence incapable to contribute to the costs of litigation, Spyker and Saab Automobile have entered into an agreement pursuant to which Spyker will bear the costs of such litigation in exchange for a very substantial share of Saab Automobile’s award when the proceedings are successful. Spyker has secured the financial backing required to see the lawsuit through to the end from a third party investor.”

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Our Daily Saab: SWAN Examines The Endgame Options Fri, 11 Nov 2011 16:29:46 +0000

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.

According to a press release posted at Saabsunited, there are only a few options:

If Swan is not able to complete a sale of the Saab Auto Group or secure further financing for the Saab Auto Group, management will likely not be able to safeguard the continuity of the Saab Auto Group, which will have negative financial implications for Swan and its stakeholders and may result in the bankruptcy of the Saab Group.

If Swan is not able to complete a sale of the Spyker business, Swan may continue the Spyker business, provided that the necessary funding for that business can be obtained.

If Swan were to sell the Saab Group but continues the activities of the Spyker business, as it did before it acquired the Saab Auto Group at the beginning of 2010, it will focus exclusively on the Spyker business.

If both businesses are sold, Swan will consider all of its options (including a voluntary liquidation of Swan).

With Saab Auto Group almost certain to be forced into bankruptcy, the real question has to do with what happens to Spyker. North Street CApital has allegedly agreed to buy the sportscar brand for some $32m, or about the amount it loses most years… and North Street itself has some credibility issues. In a best-case scenario, in which the Chinese are able to buy Saab and North Street pays full price for Spyker, SWAN’s debt will still exceed the proceeds of those sales by some four million euros. With no revenue from the sales of Saab or Spyker, SWAN has a €136m in debt will come crashing down around it. Since Saab’s bankruptcy is a foregone conclusion and Spyker’s sale won’t generate close to enough to ward off SWAN’s creditors (and it’s not a money-making asset anyway), there’s very little chance that Victor Muller’s company will just go back to its Spyker business.

In short, this train is headed towards liquidation… the only question now is whether Spyker survives. It’s unlikely that North Street can really operate the business, and I’m doubtful that a deal will even be done (especially at the quoted price). My guess is that Saab’s bankruptcy and SWAN’s crushing debt will spell the end of Spyker. How’s that for pathos: you start with one car company, try to add another, and end up losing both. Perhaps if Muller had cut his losses earlier, Spyker might have been saved… but having dragged out this process and leveraged evreything to keep the Saab dream alive, Muller is out of options. And judgement day comes on Tuesday…

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Our Daily Saab: Another Day, Another “Rescue” Thu, 20 Oct 2011 15:10:16 +0000

With both China’s NRDC and Sweden’s NDO appearing unready to approve the Chinese takeover of Saab before a Halloween bankruptcy deadline, it seemed that Saab was properly borked. Without Vladimir Antonov or Gemini Investment Fund to hit up for yet another “bridge loan,” we fully expected to see Saab placed into bankruptcy a week from Monday. But if Saab’s parent company, Swedish Automobile, had found a private equity fund that was gullible enough to rush in where Antonov feared to tread and drop $44m on Spyker… well, we should have known that North Street Capital would be fool enough to get sucked into the Saab maelstrom. And sure enough, Reuters reports that

The private equity firm of racing car enthusiast Alex Mascioli, which bought the luxury sports car business of the Dutch owner of Saab in September, is to invest $70 million in the cash-strapped car maker as Chinese bridge financing looks uncertain.

Here we go… again.

Still not convinced that the situation is dire? Consider Swedish Automobile’s official response to the North Street offer:

Swan intends to accept this offer because it has 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. Immediate availability of funding is necessary to continue the reorganization process of Saab Automobile.

Saab had previously said it expected approval from the NRDC on the 14th of October, an estimate it backed away from… on the 14th. Clearly Saab has to keep the drama going, but if it now admits that the money likely won’t come by the 22nd, what does that mean? As Bertel has been saying for months now, Saab could be waiting forever: the NRDC doesn’t say “no,” it just waits until you give up or die (see: Hummer).

But at least Saab has another bridge loan to nowhere. Although, to be clear, even that’s not a done deal. Per Saab’s release

Procurement of a loan to Saab Automobile in the amount of USD 60 million to be collateralized by a first lien on certain assets of Saab Automobile as well as a second lien on the collateral as pledged to NDO. This loan is subject to further documentation. The object of the parties is to finalize documentation no later than Monday October 24, 2011 with subsequent funding within two days thereof.

So, what exactly are those “certain assets”? Isn’t Saab out of silverware to pawn? Meanwhile, with bankruptcy such a real possibility, why is a private equity taking a second lien against assets already pledged as collateral to the Swedish government? It’s possible there’s some form of financial logic to that move, but I’m guessing that Mascioli’s passion for automobiles is clouding the judgement here. For more evidence for this theory, see the fact that North Street is paying over four times SWAN’s current stock price for its equity stake. But hey, it’s just $60m, right?

Meanwhile, with more cash to burn while waiting for a Chinese investment that will likely never come, Saabsunited is keeping the fire of enthusiasm alight by promising fans that

Even though many engineers have left the company the spirit is still very high and work has continued, perhaps not in the phase initially thought but still at a high rate on the next generation 9-3. We have heard from several sources that the car should be ready for production within about 14 months, which means it could be either aprox 14 months or even sooner…

One source told us that the car looks really cool, that even the base line model features a lot more than normal and looks incredibly good!

14 months? Saab would be burning an estimated $50m per month in a “nuclear winter” scenario where absolutely no development work is being done. If development on the 9-3 is being done, the burn rate could be $60m per month or higher. Which means the firm is going to have to find one of these North Street-style suckers every month for the next 14 months. And I’m not convinced that there are that many suckers left…

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Spyker Sold To US Private Equity Firm Wed, 28 Sep 2011 22:21:56 +0000

Spyker, the high-end sportscar firm formerly run by Saab “savior” Victor Muller, has been sold to North Street Capital, a US-based private equity firm, reports the FT [sub]. According to the FT,

North Street said in a draft announcement seen by the Financial Times and due to be released later on Wednesday that “the transaction is expected to strengthen [Spyker] in its efforts for new product development and stronger positioning in its factory auto racing team”. No changes in Spyker’s operations are planned. Terms were not disclosed.

Muller had planned to sell Spyker to Vladimir Antonov, Saab’s erstwhile knight in shining (or not) armor but Antonov ran while he could, and now plans to build a modern interpretation of the Jensen Interceptor. Under the proposed sale to Antonov, Spyker was worth “€15m plus an “earn-out” worth up to €17m to be paid over six years,” but because the firm hasn’t produced a single car since 2009, it’s probably been sold for considerably less than that. The firm sold 36 units in 2009, and has never been profitable, losing about $300m last year (while trying to swallow Saab), and about $30m in 2009. In a 2009 interview with TTAC, Muller had targeted “2010 or 2011″ as his goal for turning a profit with Spyker, but thanks to the distractions surrounding the Saab “rescue,” it seems safe to assume that goal is nowhere in sight. Which is probably why the FT reports that

A person familiar with the North Street deal said that Swedish Automobile’s talks with CPP had collapsed.

Anyway, best of luck to North Street. Meanwhile, if the financial nightmare part of this story doesn’t particularly interest you, you can always check out Jack Baruth’s review of the $270k Spyker C8 Aileron here.

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Vladimir Antonov: Screw Spyker, I’m Building A Jensen Tue, 20 Sep 2011 14:39:52 +0000

As the Saab/Spyker/Swedish Automobile mess falls deeper into chaos and hopelessness, Saab’s erstwhile knight-in-shining-armour, Vladimir Antonov has been slowly backing away from the ugly scene. Indeed, his firm CPP Holdings was supposed to buy Swedish Automobile’s Spyker Supercar division, but that deal has been on hold while Swedish Automobile concentrates on keeping Saab alive. And though the Birmingham Post reports that CPP still plans on buying Spyker eventually, it’s clear that having washed his hands of the Saab situation, Antonov is looking elsewhere in order to secure a Victor Muller-free future. But could Britain really offer a loaded young Russian an appealing sportscar brand to sink his hard-earned (or not, whatever) cash into? Anyone know what TVR is up to? Actually, it seems Antonov has gone one better than TVR, and has secured the right to make an “all-new” Jensen Interceptor from the ex-Jaguar plant at Browns Lane, Coventry. Does it get any more wealthy-Russian-trying-to-make-his-mark-on-the-British-sportscar-scene than that? According to Autocar, the new Interceptor will feature aluminum chassis and bodywork, with an attendant “ultra-exclusive” pricetag, and will be shown sometime next year ahead of a 2014 rollout. Because, oligarch.

Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail What the FF? jenseninterceptor2 jenseninterceptor ]]> 13
Saab: Antonov Considers EIB Lawsuit, While Questions Arise Over “Management Services” Money Fri, 29 Jul 2011 16:38:47 +0000 reports that would-be Saab rescuer Vladimir Antonov is considering legal action against the European Investment Bank and the Swedish Government, for keeping him out of an ownership stake at the failing Swedish automaker. Says Antonov

I have therefore decided to investigate the possibility of taking legal action, including but not limited to claims for damages, which may be of interest to various parties, including myself, the EIB, some officials at the EIB, the Swedish government and some government officials personally. By denying SWAN (Swedish Automobile) and Saab Automobile access to the funding that I offer, what these companies want and still desperately want, both the Bank and the Swedish government acted against all involved parties concerned, particularly against Saab and SWAN’s employees , suppliers, traders, lenders and shareholders

Antonov is reportedly investigating whether he can sue individual ministers of the Swedish government, while the ministers in question angrily deny that they are working against the interests of the Swedish auto industry. Meanwhile, far from calling for the overthrow of the government, the Swedish press is investigating Saab’s outlays for “management services” in recent years, and has found that CEO Victor Muller may be siphoning cash off to the tax haven of Curacao.

Last year, Saab payed its owners at Spyker some 40m Kroner (about $6.3m) for “management services.” Of that portion, Spyker paid its CEO Victor Muller some $1.5m in compensation and bonuses… but that wasn’t the entirety of Muller’s payday. According to, another $630k was paid to a mysterious company known as Latin American TUG Holding (recently changed to Lat Management NV), a firm that is registered in the tax haven of Curacao. Nearly $300k of that money was reportedly earmarked to Muller.

On 26 January this year the company changed its name to Lat Management NV The company is engaged in freight and shipping operations, and also provides “management services,” especially in the automotive industry, according to documents from the Curacao Chamber of Commerce.

Victor Muller’s name is not mentioned in the documents. Instead there are two Dutchmen as contacts and CEO – Everardus Van Rutten and Johan Van Vlit. They represent Lat Management’s local representative company – Coral Administration and Management. The company is in turn a freight company, which also has a business to register offshore companies in Curacao.

When called Coral Administration and Management, we spoke to chief executive Johan van Vlit.

Who owns Lat Management N.V?

“I can not tell. It’s classified information,” he says, referring all questions about the company to Victor Muller.

But he confirms that the company Latin American Tug Holding changed its name to Lat Management NV In January this year.

One of the company’s activities is to provide “management services” in the automotive industry, are Victor Muller’s services provided?

“Well, it is he who does the job. But it’s better if you ask any questions to him, “said Johan Van Vlit.

When Saab is asked about the arrangement, Chief Information Officer Eric Geers is no more helpful.

Johan Van Vlit, representing Latin American Tug Holding NV, now Lat Management NV confirms to that Victor Muller performs the company’s “management services”. What is your comment on that?

“I can not confirm it, but would need to examine it in this case. But if he confirms it as you may well take it. ”

Saab liabilities of Enforcement pile up and wages have failed again. Do you think that the payment of four million to Latin American Tug Holding last year was justified?

“I don’t know all the numbers. But we are in compliance with all accounting rules. There is nothing strange about that. ”

When contacted Saab for further clarification, it reported that the $6.3m payment from Saab to Spyker was

payment for services performed by Spyker’s management of Saab’s behalf, including costs for the board. The payment also applies to the cost of various advisors and consultants paid by Spyker in connection with the acquisition.

But that would entail a few large staffs of consultants is not likely, according to the Dutch journalist Robert van den Oever, who has written a book about the Spyker and who have been following Victor Muller’s business.

“We know from earlier that Muller does not usually have a large group of advisers around him. He did not during the acquisition of Saab, nor in recent months as he has been working to find funding. It’s hard to believe that the costs of external consultants have been high, “he says, noting that Muller himself has said repeatedly that he works with a small group of people.

A Dutch shareholder’s rights group has already criticized Muller’s bonus arguing

The bonus is disproportionate. Given the large financial losses and poor sales, we wonder what objectives have been achieved that may justify a bonus

The fact that Saab can’t pay suppliers or workers while Muller is shuffling money off to Caribbean tax shelters (especially one so infamous that the Swedish government just concluded an agreement with it to crack down on tax evasion) is just one more piece of bad PR for a firm that’s pretty clearly circling the drain. And it certainly won’t help Antonov’s claim that he and Muller are as pure as the driven snow and the victims of discrimination. Muller has certainly done better out of the deal than anyone running a company that sold fewer than 30,000 cars last year has any right to expect… and he’s definitely done better than the employees he claims to be “saving.” Maybe it’s time for Muller and Antonov to just call it a day and pack it in.

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Saab Referred To Collections. Bankruptcy Threatened Wed, 15 Jun 2011 18:47:36 +0000

A group of businesses that are owed anywhere between $198 and $744,083 could force ailing Saab to declare bankruptcy.  They have turned to the Swedish Enforcement Agency, better known (and feared) in Sweden as the “Kronofogden.” That agency introduces itself as follows:

“Is there a bill you cannot pay? Or are you not getting paid by someone who owes you money? In both cases, it will be Kronofogden that you come into contact with. A debt that is not paid ends up in Kronofogden´s register. This register is open for all to consult. As a result, anyone wishing to find out how someone else manages their finances can check the register. If a person´s name appears in the register, he/she can find it difficult to buy on hire purchase, borrow money or rent an apartment.”

Currently, there are 48 entries on that list that claim that Saab owes them.  Lots of suppliers. A few bill collectors. A patent attorney. One of the world’s largest CPA firms, Pricewaterhouse-Coopers, demands $104,904.

Swedish online newspaper GT published a list of all the claims allegedly reported up to Tuesday. Here it is:

Creditor Amt SKR AMT USD
Svensk Bilprovning: 10,309 kr $1,595
Supplies Team Sverige: 1,559 kr $241
Uddeholm Svenska: 150,272 kr $23,246
Dahl Sverige: 50,661 kr $7,837
Michael Page International: 1,812,330 kr $280,360
Posten Meddelande: 443,330 kr $68,581
Effect Management Search: 128,014 kr $19,803
Kongsberg Automotive: 4,338,708 kr $671,180
De Lage Finans: 157,904 kr $24,427
Siemens: 19,007 kr $2,940
Bording: 99,134 kr $15,336
Posten Meddelande: 244,909 kr $37,886
Kontentan Förlags: 1,280 kr $198
Awapatent: 319,513 kr $49,427
Öhrlings Pricewaterhouse-Coopers: 678,521 kr $104,964
Benteler Aluminium Syst.: 82,029 kr $12,690
Mutual Benefits: 455,948 kr $70,533
Brännkammaren 67: 223,224 kr $34,532
Teliasonera Sverige: 5,525 kr $855
Ultramare: 32,890 kr $5,088
Chemetall Skand. Ytteknik: 361,174 kr $55,872
Infotiv: 215,653 kr $33,361
Granzow: 90,867 kr $14,057
Materialcenter Väst: 93,725 kr $14,499
Benteler Aluminium Syst.: 973,005 kr $150,520
Netgroup Engineering i Gbg: 92,847 kr $14,363
Svea Ekonomi: 4,128 kr $639
Kopparberg Finans: 129,683 kr $20,061
Bording: 5,162 kr $799
Atlas Copco Compressor: 141,875 kr $21,947
Atlas Copco Compressor: 6,127 kr $948
Runelandhs Försäljnings: 3,234 kr $500
Live Nation Sweden: 238,001 kr $36,818
Carlhag: 5,129 kr $793
TDC Sverige: 2,597 kr $402
Svenska Elektrod AB: 2,262 kr $350
Fasitet PDE: 4,809,973 kr $744,083
Eniro Sverige: 35,762 kr $5,532
Dacat: 238,653 kr $36,919
Atlas Copco Compressor: 448,501 kr $69,381
HIQ Göteborg: 3,327,844 kr $514,803
Inkasso Marginalen: 436,099 kr $67,463
Awapatent: 233,601 kr $36,137
Mima Skepps- och Industriservice: 686,278 kr $106,164
I3tex: 425,939 kr $65,891
Releasy Customer Management: 266,967 kr $41,299
J Event: 729,118 kr $112,791
Chemetall Skand. Ytteknik: 341,427 kr $52,817
Chemetall Skand. Ytteknik: 142,316 kr $22,016
23,743,014 kr $3,672,944

This list is as published by GT, we assume no responsibility for completeness or correctness.

GT points out that this is just the list of the creditors that turned to the state agency for collection. “The total debt is many times greater,” says the paper. “The situation is extremely serious,” said  Sven-Ake Berglie, president of Fordonskomponentgruppen. He also points out that this list just scratches the surface: “The largest creditors are abroad. For example, GM.”

Germany’s Automobilwoche [sub]  reports that “increasingly impatient suppliers could soon file a petition for bankruptcy.”  Getting on the Kronofogden list establishes priority in bankruptcy proceedings. Kronofogden is not just bill collector and keeper of the list of shame, it also supervises bankruptcy proceedings:

“A company whose debts are excessive may be declared bankrupt by those to whom it owes money. The company is then taken over temporarily by a bankruptcy administrator, often a lawyer, whose task it is to share the remaining money among those with claims on the company. Kronofogden supervises the bankruptcy administrators and ensures that they perform their task correctly.”

But Kronofogden is also here to help: “

If you have major debts that you think you will never be able to repay, you can apply to Kronofogden for help with debt relief. This will require you to live for five years at the minimum possible level of financial outgoings. All surpluses in your finances will be used to pay off your debts. After five years, you will be clear of debt.“

Come on: Just five years at minimum possible level of financial outgoings, and you are debt-free.

But wait. Aren’t there bazillons coming from China? Says Automobilwoche: “Currently, these are non-binding dreams of the future out of a joint letter of intent.  The reality faced by the more than 3,700 workers that had to fear for their jobs for more than a year looks a lot more dismal than a rosy future Made in China.”

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Antonov Drops Out Of Saab Real Estate Leaseback, Youngman Deal Doubted Tue, 14 Jun 2011 15:25:56 +0000

Strap on the man-pants, Saab fans, because there’s another heaping load of bad news for the Swedish brand this morning. First off, Saab’s mysterious Russian backer Vladimir Antonov has backed out of a deal in which he was to buy property at Saab’s Trollhättan plant and lease it back to the company, stabilizing its short-term cash position. Automotive News [sub] quotes an Antonov rep as saying

The property sale is now being discussed with external investors

Apparently the Swedish real estate investor Hemfosa has stepped into the breach and sources say a deal could happen quickly. Antonov’s man added that his boss was still interested in securing a shareholding in Saab, a move that has been awaiting approval by the European Investment Bank for some time now. But despite Antonov’s insistence that he’s not going anywhere, the real estate deal pullout is troubling. After all, if Antonov were really the Saab zealot he claims to be, willing to support and revamp the brand at any cost, wouldn’t he want to own the Trollhättan plant? Wouldn’t he want deed to the factory in case Saab, as it exists now, goes into bankruptcy? This is the first indication that Antonov is treating his Saab involvement as an investment rather than a crusade, which is frankly a bad sign for what’s left of the Swedish brand. On the other hand, with Chinese firms chopping up Saab, what’s a businessman to do?

Which leads to another interesting question: if Antonov has been a generous sugar daddy thus far, why alienate him by cozying up to not one, but two Chinese firms? The answer lies with the EIB’s unwillingness to let Antonov take a timely stake in Saab, which needs short-term financing more than vague promises of long-term support. And though the Pang Da deal brought in some short-term cash, but much of the $352m invested by the two Chinese firms is in the form of longer-term financing, which won’t help Saab out of its short-term supplier woes. AN [sub] reports:

“What they have presented now is long-term financing, which is positive. But that does not solve today’s situation, which is very serious,” Svenake Berglie, chief executive of the FKG auto industry suppliers group, said on Tuesday.

He told Reuters his group estimated Saab’s debts to suppliers at 300-500 million crowns.

While the firm had worked out payment plans with some suppliers, talks were still taking place, Berglie said.

Meanwhile, even those longer-term deals with Pang Da and Youngman are still subject to approval from China, the EIB, Sweden and GM… which could take three months and may well not happen at all. Bloomberg has the latest round of analysts dashing cold water on any optimism surrounding the latest deal, reporting

“I have the impression that Saab is scrambling for any partner in China now,” said Lin Huai Bin, a Shanghai-based analyst at IHS Automotive, in a telephone interview. “If Saab wants to succeed in China, they need to find a sizable company with good profit and good government connections,.”

Youngman may find it difficult to convince the Chinese government to give approval for a manufacturing venture, given the company’s size and China’s wariness to allow further capacity expansion in the auto industry, Lin said…

China’s focus on controlling inflation and tightening lending may also limit the tie-up’s success, said Robert Theleen, chairman and co-founder of investment capital firm ChinaVest Ltd.

“The auto industry is low priority for the government at the moment,” said Theleen, who provides cross-border merger and acquisition advisory services for multinationals in China. “They’d also prefer to see how the Geely-Volvo deal pans out.”

There’s much, much more of that kind of analysis over at Bloomberg. It’s said that Saab would have to produce 100k+ units per year in order to even have a chance at a Chinese government approval of the deal… and Saab’s global sales record was 133k units and change. In case you’re still struggling with what this all means, here’s TTAC’s primer on learning to let go of Saab and move on. We suggest you give it a look.


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Pangda Starts NDRC Approval Process. Outcome Doubtful Mon, 23 May 2011 13:52:00 +0000

“There is almost no chance for the government to approve Pangda’s purchase of Spyker’s stake, let alone their plan to set up a new joint venture in China,” so said Zhang Xin, an analyst at Beijing-based Guotai Junan Securities, to Bloomberg. “The deal doesn’t fit in the government’s plan for consolidation.”

This came in reaction to Spyker’s and Saab’s announcement of today which proclaimed that “Pang Da Automobile (Pang Da) has entered procedure discussions with Chinese authorities, including the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), to obtain regulatory approvals for the investment in Spyker Cars and Saab Automobile.”

In the announcement, Victor Muller said:

“Based on our discussions with Pang Da we are confident that Pang Da will get the regulatory approvals needed to formalize the deal. I am very much looking forward to creating a strong business with Pang Da, initially in the distribution and subsequently in the manufacturing of Saab vehicles in China. What needs to be pointed out is that Pang Da’s advance payment and sales of imported Saab cars are not subject to approval from the NDRC. The first advance payment of EUR 30 million was received last Tuesday.”

Pang Qinghua, CEO of Pang Da, was a bit less ebullient:

“The initial procedure discussions we have had with the NDRC were done in good spirit and all parties have a good understanding of the process going forward. We remain convinced that we will be able to get all the necessary documentation and approvals to successfully complete the transactions.

Pangda is willing to buy 24 percent of Spyker and by extension of Saab. Pangda wants to pay 65 million euros ($93 million) for that share. “The latter step will require approval from Chinese authorities, something that may not be easy to get,” says Reuters.

On the Chinese side,“Pangda needs to persuade at least three government agencies — the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Commerce, and the State Administration of Foreign Exchange — that it can profit from the deal and contribute to state policy of making the car industry more competitive,” Bloomberg explains.

Also according to Bloomberg,

“Pangda’s Spyker stake requires the approval of Sweden’s government and national debt office, the European Investment bank and GM. The EIB, the European Union’s lending arm, is Saab’s biggest creditor with a loan guaranteed by Sweden. The debt office has yet to receive any application on Pangda’s proposal, said Daniel Barr, the official handling Saab’s case. A decision may take three or four weeks after a filing, Barr said. “

A manufacturing joint venture in China will take even more complicated approvals. Time is money, and Saab has neither in abundance. The €30 million probably are not enough to pay off current supplier bills. Dagens Industri estinates Saab’s supplier debts at between two hundred and four hundred million kroner, or as much as €44m. The cars for which the €30 million have been advanced need to be made. For that, some 800 suppliers need to be made whole first.

What’s more, Reuters writes today that if the share purchase or the joint venture “fall through, Saab will have to repay the initial 30 million euros.”

Analysts in China, who have a deeper understanding of Chinese business and politics than Saab fanzines, are convinced that the deal will not receive the necessary permissions. “The car industry needs strong quality carmakers making good-quality cars with the right price,” Scott Laprise, an analyst with CLSA Asia Pacific in Beijing said to Bloomberg. “We don’t need more brands. A lot of the small carmakers know they are in trouble because consolidation is going to happen.”

For years, the Chinese government has demanded consolidation of its highly fractionalized auto industry. The consolidation did not happen so far. There are rumors going around in Beijing that that current downdraft in car sales is government-engineered to force the weaker players to throw in the towel. Independent Chinese makers are much harder hit by the slowdown than state owned enterprises that are in joint ventures with foreign makers.

What the Chinese government definitely does not want is more car companies. What many overlook is that China’s government itself is up to its eyeballs in car companies, China’s central government owns several car companies. In addition, many large provincial governments are owners of a car company. Shanghai for instance owns SAIC, the company that builds Buicks that share the same platform that underpin Saabs. Beijing for instance owns BAIC, the same company that had turned down an offer to buy Saab (and the legacy that comes with it) in 2009 for a token amount. BAIC instead bought core technology and tooling from Saab in 2009. The government will think of its own car companies first before it will approve yet another one whose joint venture partner has trouble paying suppliers. Add to that the fact that Saab has very little to contribute in own IP (most is licensed from GM) and you will understand why the deal appears very unlikely from a Chinese perspective.


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Saab Has Enough Money For Muller’s Bonus, But Does It Have Enough To Restart Production? Wed, 18 May 2011 16:40:54 +0000

Saab has received wire transfers of around €30m from both Gemini Investments and the Chinese dealer group PangDa, reports Aftonbladet, and it will be using that money to pay off its supplier debts which could use up most of that cash (Saab’s supplier debts are estimated by at between two hundred and four hundred million kroner, or as much as €44m). Leaving aside the issue of how that money was able to be transferred from China to Sweden in a matter of two days (more on that from Bertel here, the short version: the deal should need Chinese government approval), there are serious questions about Saab’s ability to restart production. After all, the €30m from Gemini is debt, while Saab owes PengDa for an undisclosed number of vehicles that it bought with its investment. Unless those cars are sitting somewhere waiting to be shipped, Saab will have to pay off its suppliers and then build the cars on what is essentially credit from PengDa. Meanwhile, that’s not the only demand on Saab’s finances and attention, as CEO Victor Muller is planning on taking a bonus of over half a million dollars, a decision that is creating fresh problems of its own.

The Swedish paper reports

At Saab, Spyker’s shareholders’ meeting in Zeewolde in the Netherlands on Thursday will get Muller’s criticism from the Dutch shareholder rights association VEB. Muller may, for the first time, receive a cash bonus of 4.5 million kroners, while Saab has severe problems. The bonus is disproportionate, argues the VEB.
“We will try to convince him to surrender,” said David Tomic, an economist at the VEB, said.

Muller defended at a press conference in Nacka in early April, their choice to receive the bonus with certain goals in the business plan is reached and that management did a good job even if the company made a loss.

It does not impress David Tomic.

“The bonus is disproportionate. Given the large financial losses and poor sales, we wonder what objectives have been achieved that may justify a bonus,” said Tomic.

Spyker Cars has not previously had monetary bonuses, according to David Tomic.

At current exchange rates, that bonus amounts to over $710,000. Is it enough to sink Saab-Spyker? No. Is it an appropriate reward for hustling millions in financing for a company that many are already writing off as dead? Possibly. But given the touch-and-go nature of Saab’s recent history, it’s clear that Muller’s bonus sends the wrong message. After all, not only does Saab apparently not know exactly how much it will cost to restart production, but it’s not at all clear what terms the suppliers will accept to keep a long-term relationship together. If you asked us, we’d say C.O.D… which is a brutal way to run any automaker. Not only does Saab need every penny it can scrounge to stay afloat, but it also needs to send the message that its priorities are such that its worth suppliers taking a risk on it. Executive bonuses in the midst of declining sales, huge losses and whirlwind finance-seeking tours hardly send that message. If anything, Muller’s just lost some of his incentive to continue his Saab Rescue World Tour.

And, having received a healthy little bonus for simply keeping Saab alive, Muller now has to face his suppliers as well as the angry shareholders represented by VEB. Given that Muller’s last shareholder meeting included the promise that Saab would turn a profit by 2012, the feelings of anger and betrayal are likely to outweigh sympathy for the plucky little automaker. Meanwhile, the storm clouds continue to gather. Beijing Auto, which bought Saab’s old IP last year, is preparing to roll out new cars based on the technology, using the tagline “From Saab, Better than Saab”. And, with hope running out, Saab’s sad plight has inspired a thoughtful meditation on how companies die, from Forbes‘s Ron Ashkenas, which notes

While the final days of some companies are dramatic and garner top news coverage, most companies deteriorate over a period of years due to competitive issues, financial weakness, or strategic missteps. For example, Saab’s growth and expansion in the 1980’s created a need for capital that brought it into the arms of General Motors, which purchased 50 percent of the automotive division in 1989, and the remainder in 2000. From that point, Saab became a casualty of GM’s inability to rein in costs, prune products and platforms, and compete on quality.

In other words, companies don’t usually die of sudden heart attacks, but rather have protracted illnesses that kill them over time.

Clearly the end of a company — whether through bankruptcy, merger, restructuring, or shutdown — is often painful and traumatic for those involved. Most people emotionally identify with their employer so even when their job continues with a new entity, or they get a financial payout, there is still a sense of loss. And of course, the loss is more acute when there is neither a job nor a payout.

Organizational failure, like death, is one of those subjects many of us avoid and deny, which makes it all the more shocking when it happens. But given the reality — it might be worth considering in advance how you would handle the impending death of your company or division. Is there anything you could do to prevent it based on your position and influence? If not, think about your own future.

It seems that Muller has already taken Ashkenas’s advice… now the question is whether he’s ready to let go of his floundering company. The next weeks will hold the answer either way.

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Saab-Hawtai Deal Fails: Chinese Consolidation To Blame? Thu, 12 May 2011 15:47:01 +0000

Saab’s deal with the Chinese automaker Hawtai has failed in a predictable manner, as the struggling Chinese partner apparently didn’t receive government approval for the deal. Saab-Spyker’s announcement of the deal’s collapse explains [via AN [sub]]

Since it became clear that Hawtai was not able to obtain all the necessary consents, the parties were forced to terminate the agreement with Saab Automobile and Spyker with immediate effect. The parties will continue their discussions about a possible cooperation, however now on a non-exclusive basis

This isn’t the first time that the Chinese takeover of a Western brand failed due to the Chinese government’s insistence on industry consolidation, as the Hummer-to-China deal failed for similar reasons. Meanwhile, we should have seen this coming a mile away…

According to one of the earlier reports of Saab’s flirtation with the Chinese industry,

Saab was talking to a wide range of Chinese automakers about a tie-up to help the carmaker weather its current crisis. He did not name those potential partners, but described them as “niche players and big boys.”

But Muller added that teaming up with a large manufacturer was more difficult for a smaller brand like Saab. Partnering with a local niche player would give Saab a stronger voice.

Though Muller may have had his reasons for picking a smaller partner from China’s vast auto industry, he should have studied his history first. The Hummer deal was axed by the Central Government not only because it represented an anti-environmental image, but because the proposed buyer (Sichuan Tengzhong) wasn’t one of the large automakers favored in China’s industry consolidation scheme. The strange part? According to a separate AN [sub] report, Muller has been “doing his homework” on the Chinese industry for six months, saying

In September we put together a working group to inventory the Chinese market. That related to importation, potential partners for distribution, potential partners for manufacturing. We have been at it for half a year

And yet they didn’t pick up on Hawtai’s struggles, and therefore its lack of credibility as a potential partner. Sure, they might have assumed that the Chinese Government would have been receptive to tying a company that had over-gambled on diesel engines in a market where you can hardly buy a gallon of diesel with a struggling European brand… but ultimately, the Chinese government almost always defaults to macro-solutions over micro-solutions (a natural product of trying to govern a billion people). Saab should have known that Beijing would not approve the Hawtai tie-up.

But, like the good newly-converted Chinese evangelists they are, Saab-Spyker is moving on from the Hawtai mis-step, and is pursuing a deal with the larger, more export-focused Chinese OEM Great Wall, according to Automotive News [sub]. According to AN’s sources

The two sides have never stopped talking and have been in touch with each other despite the Hawtai/Spyker deal. It could be mutually beneficial if Great Wall and Spyker team up eventually. The Chinese partner has the cash that Spyker needs, while Saab’s technologies and its network in Europe are valuable for the Chinese side

And though that relationship could materialize into something solid, as Great Wall is considered one of China’s flagship automakers, it still leaves Saab back in a short-term scramble for cash. The firm says that it will restart production once its EIB loan drawdown is approved, but it’s still got a long, rough road ahead of it…

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Saab Still Waiting For Rescue Approval, Now Looking To China? Thu, 21 Apr 2011 14:54:24 +0000

The Swedish National Debt Office has approved Saab’s deal to sell property to its Russian backer, Vladimir Antonov, but the Swedish firm is still waiting on approval of the deal from the European Investment Bank. Saab’s production operations have been shut down for two weeks, since the automaker began having trouble paying its suppliers. The EIB says its must simply review the deal, which would include the sale of Saab’s property to an Antonov-owned bank as well as the release of the remainder of Saab’s EIB loan, although GM gets to review the deal as well before it goes through according to And since GM has long opposed Antonov taking a large share of Saab, which owns rights to some of its latest technology, Saab is reportedly also talking to several Chinese firms about partnerships that could save the struggling automaker.

Automotive News [sub] reports that Saab CEO Victor Muller

said Saab was talking to a wide range of Chinese automakers about a tie-up to help the carmaker weather its current crisis. He did not name those potential partners, but described them as “niche players and big boys.”

But Muller added that teaming up with a large manufacturer was more difficult for a smaller brand like Saab. Partnering with a local niche player would give Saab a stronger voice.

So, who is Saab talking to? An obvious candidate is Beijing Motor, which nearly bought Saab and ended up purchasing some of its older tooling for outdated versions of the 9-5 and 9-3. But Reuters reports that Beijing’s CEO denied any talks with Saab at the New York Auto Show. Reports indicate that Saab is in talks with “at least” two Chinese automakers, although Saab did recently close a deal with China Automobile Trading Company, to become the Swedish brand’s new Chinese importer.

With Antonov’s stake increase dragging through different levels of European government approval, Saab wants to get its workers back on site in Troellhattan by Wednesday of next week. With sales already suffering, production shortages of new vehicles will be brutal on the company. But if Antonov’s stake gets held up by the EIB or GM, Saab may have no choice but to turn to China for help. With SAIC rehabbing the once-moribund Rover-MG remnants to hesitant British approval, and Volvo moving forward under the Geely umbrella, the prospect of selling a European brand to the Chinese isn’t as scary as it once was. But, with the Chinese firms investing ever more in their own brands, will Saab even find a white knight in the Middle Kingdom? There are no guarantees in this business…

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“They Cannot Pay Their Bills.” Saab Stops Production Yet Again Tue, 05 Apr 2011 17:01:25 +0000

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.

Today, the production lines at Saab ground to a halt again. No parts. Nobody was quick-witted enough to blame Japan. “Saab halted production anew on Tuesday due to parts shortages after failing to pay suppliers,” says Reuters. A day after the glowing presentation, Victor Muller told Reuters that Saab expects to have more production line interruptions: “This is an ongoing thing. It will take some time to get everyone back in line properly. We will get it under control.”

Meanwhile Saab spokeswoman Gunilla Gustavs told the wire service that they “are working intensively to make sure the flow gets going again. We are having discussions with suppliers and doing our best to come to mutual agreements.”

Saab’s part suppliers are less optimistic.

“They cannot pay their bills,” Svenake Berglie, chief executive of the FKG suppliers’ sector organisation, told Reuters.  FKG said four or five of the biggest suppliers stopped deliveries because of unpaid invoices.

Everybody is now waiting for Russian sugar daddy Vladimir Antonov to come out of exile.

Maybe, we aren’t the only ones who had received threats for previous reporting. Reuters writes very cautiously: “Antonov, who owns banks in Lithuania and Latvia, used to have a 29.9 percent stake in Spyker but had to sell it, at GM’s insistence, before Spyker could buy Saab. Media reported at the time that Antonov had links to organized crime.”

No need to hold back. Meanwhile, even Russia’s state-owned news agency RIA-Novosti writes: ”Antonov was a key shareholder in Spyker, but he was forced out shortly before the Saab sale deal as GM reportedly suspected the Russian businessman of links to organized crime.” If RIA-Novosti says so, who are we to argue with them.

Antonov has applied to the Swedish Debt Office to take a below 30 percent stake in Saab. The BBC called the Debt Office and was told that “a formal request to clear Mr Antonov is currently under consideration, although it will take weeks rather than days before a decision is made.”

Meanwhile, even over at the Saabsunited cheering section, the mood turns from ebullient to guarded.  Good advice is being dispensed: “Saab cannot afford big mistakes, hardly small. How should it proceed? With sincerity, honesty and humility.“

Or not, as the saying went here in years behind.

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Saab In Trouble Over Unpaid Bills Wed, 30 Mar 2011 22:20:09 +0000

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.

Saab spokesman Eric Geers told AN that Saab “had fruitful talks with transport firm Schenker, which would start deliveries to Saab again and allow production to resume.” Schenker is one of the world’s largest shipping companies and 100 percent owned by the German Railroad. In the business, you always pay your freight company, simply because they can make your life miserable by holding your freight at ransom. And that’s just for starters.

AN says that Schenker isn’t the only one that is waiting to get paid. “The information that we got at the end of last week was that suppliers have not been paid by Saab,” Svenake Berglie, chief of  Sweden’s FKG association of car industry suppliers told a public radio station. He also conveyed that suppliers with which he had spoken were very angry.  Unwise move #2: If you want to build cars, you need parts.

According to Automotive News, Spyker is hoping for new money from a familiar source: Vladimir Antonov. Says Automotive News:

“Antonov has been a long-time business partner of Spyker CEO Victor Muller and used to have a near 30 percent stake in Spyker. Spyker has already sold its sports car division to Antonov and the Russian said last week he would like to return to a 30 percent shareholding in Spyker-Saab. “

“He has said he was forced out of the original deal for Spyker to buy Saab from General Motors Co. after being suspected of being connected with organized crime.”

“He has said investigations have cleared him and that GM is ready to let him back as a shareholder.”

Schenker and the Swedish parts makers will be delighted to hear that.

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Spyker And Saab In Deep Trouble Thu, 26 Aug 2010 15:42:07 +0000

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.”

Preferreds are both equity and debt instruments. Spyker keeps its books according to the Euro-centric IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards), not according to the U.S.-centric GAAP. Under INFRS, preferreds must be kept on the books as debt if redemption is beyond the control of the company or if dividend must be paid on a periodic basis.  You need money to pay those dividends.

Spyker has never made a cent in profits. In 2009, they had €19.24m losses on sales of €6.6m. A company like that can’t afford Saab. Oh, well. GM was used to selling cars to people who can’t afford them. Why not whole car companies?

According to Automobilwoche [sub]  Spyker wants to wait with further comments until they presented their half year report on August 27. As a listed company, Spyker has 5 days to declare itself after the capital is exhausted. Automobilwoche: “Whether Spyker has to declare bankruptcy or whether they can find new capital is unsure.”

Collateral damage: BMW. BMW wanted to deliver engines for the Saab crossover 9-4X and possibly for the Saab 9-3. That  deal appears to be on ice for the moment.

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SAAB Needs Help. From BMW Fri, 11 Jun 2010 16:23:32 +0000

Spyker, proud new owner of SAAB, is overwhelmed. Victor Muller is looking at what’s on his plate and is having an anxiety attack. “How will I ever get that done?” (And with what money?) Spyker needs serious help.

That’s why Spyker is talking to BMW. The Bavarians are supposed to assist Saab with the development and production of new cars, says Sweden’s Dagens Industri.

BMW engines and transmissions could be used in the new SAAB 9-2.

The new old retro-92 could be built based on a BMW Mini.

BMW diesel engines could power the 9-4X crossover, scheduled for 2011.

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Nostalgia Is So Yesterday: Saab Plans New Old 92 Sat, 29 May 2010 15:09:28 +0000

The PT Cruiser lit the world on fire … then it fizzled.  The new Beetle put a bug under many people’s bonnet – now it’s marked for extinction. That doesn’t deter Saab’s new owner Victor Muller of Spyker to think about a re-make of the legendary teardrop-shaped Saab 92 that was in production from 1949 to 1956.

“Discussions are already ongoing,” Muller said in a telephone interview with Automotive News [sub]. “That will be on my plate for the next 100 days.”

Spyker/Saab doesn’t want to build the car themselves, they are in technology/platform sharing talks with other (undisclosed) auto makers.

During the talk with AN, Muller shot down rumors that BAIC, the same company that bought the tooling for previous-gen Saabs, already has a  distributor contract for new Saabs in China. A few days ago, Gasgoo had reported that BAIC would replace Shanghai GM as Saab’s new sales agent in China. Muller said Saab wants to reach an agreement with a Chinese distributor within a couple months.

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Saab-Spyker Is A Hot Mess Fri, 09 Apr 2010 19:06:58 +0000

Where to start with Saab-Spyker CEO Victor Muller’s plans for world domination? Why not with the craziest part? Despite declining sales, the boutique supercar arm of Saab-Spyker claims to be developing a “Super Sport Utility Vehicle” in the mold of the D12 Peking-To-Paris showcar. caused quite a stir when it revealed images of both a clay model and a test mule for this allegedly production-bound (yes, again) piece of madness. Moreover, news that Spyker won’t be invited to use Audi engines in forthcoming models caused at least one popular car blog to run the headline “Spyker’s New Ferrari-Powered SUV.” Because apparently Spyker can’t decide if it wants to use an AMG engine or a “supercharged Ferrari V8.” Does this give you a taste of just how goofy things have become ’round Saab-Spyker way? Well, it gets worse.

On to the Saab-flavored crazy. The boutique mainstream-model arm of Saab-Spyker is brimming with big plans, but before we get there, let’s take a moment to acknowledge just how disastrous Saab’s sales have been thus far. In the first quarter of last year (which was by no means the best sales year for Saab, at about 40k units globally), the Swedish brand sold 2,932 units in the United States. In the first quarter of 2010, Saab has sold a grand total of 813 units, with sales in March falling to a paltry 133 units. Yes, way.

But don’t worry, because Muller has the sales thing all planned out. He explains to Forbes:

I’m looking at our sales figure since we did the acquisition. We are looking at more than doubling our sales this year. We went from making 20,000 cars and selling 39,000 cars last year. This year we will be making 50,000 to 60,000 cars and selling all of them. So we are looking at a massive increase compared to last year. And next year, we should be back at the 100,000 car level.

But never mind the facts, this is the car business. Saab is upping production 18 percent, though even the Swedish government won’t buy their cars due to “dubious resale value.” And it’s not just the cars that came already-developed by GM that are grabbing headlines. A “retro-styled,” “teardrop-shaped” baby Saab has been rendered and written about extensively, even though Saab-Spyker’s business plan is about $1b short of making it happen (and that’s assuming an Opel Corsa basis). But hey, at least Victor Muller knows what he would name it.  And since Saab really is a big, grown-up car company, it must also have its own tuning arm, which will definitely be named “Viggen.” Every future Saab will be available in Viggen trim, doncha know?

So where is the money coming for all this? Russia, apparently. The more interesting question is what does Vladimir Antonov think he will get out of dropping $100m or so on a zombie brand, a money-losing supercar maker and their overly ambitious chief executive’s dreams of greatness? An insight into that comes from a translated Moscow Times interview with Antonov, by way of Saabs United. It’s a bit muddled, but apparently Antonov dreams of an auto empire of his own. A Russian unit building cars in Kalningrad that will apparently offer “Mondeo size at Focus prices.” A “Chinese unit” is planned as well, probably through an alliance with BAIC, which owns the IP to expired Saab 9-3 and 9-5 models. And Antonov makes it clear that Saab-Spyker isn’t a vanity project:

In fact, we have today is quite large [exposure] at Spyker. She lives in accordance with the business plan, Spyker, and repayment schedule, which arose long before the Saab on our horizon. Accordingly, these loans must be serviced, loans must be extinguished in accordance with this schedule. This is normal, this relationship “bank-client”. Spyker have always had relationships with the banks under the scheme is built. He was never, as they say, a favorite client, your customers. Just client.

So where is this ship of fools going? Who freaking knows. But it sure will be fun to watch. If nothing else, we have an excellent picture of the best-case scenario.

UPDATE (sort of): The new 9-3 will be built on the same Epsilon platform that has underpinned it since 2003… see what where this is going?

modelssuv spykerd12a spykerd12c Saab9-2 mulessuv Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail spykerd12b spykerd12 ]]> 22
Nasty Securities Laws Make Spyker’s Muller Use The Cyprus Connection Thu, 25 Mar 2010 13:05:57 +0000

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?

A company was created in Cyprus. Victor Muller transferred just under 1.3 million shares to that Cyprus company, reducing his voting rights in Spyker to 26.8 percent. Muller can buy his shares back at any time for the same price the entity paid. “Any increase in the value of the shares will be for the benefit of Mr. Muller if the option is exercised,” says a Spyker statement, published by Reuters.. In essence, Muller parked his shares on an island in the Mediterranean, where they won’t trigger any nasty buyback clauses.

Who owns or manages that Cyprus company, called Dorwing Solution Ltd., is anybody’s guess. The beauty of a Cyprus International Business Company (“IBC”) is that a beneficial owner of an IBC has the option not to disclose his details should he wish so. The beneficial owner may also use nominee shareholders based on a personal agreement or a deed of trust. In other words: You’ll never know. Ah, and taxes in Cyprus are also low: 10 percent of net profits. Did we mention that Cyprus is a favorite destination of Russian organized crime? No? Now we did.

How does this grab you: “US and European intelligence and law enforcement officials say Cyprus remains a haven for shadowy enterprises ranging from Islamic terrorists to narco-gangsters, as well as for Russian and other citizens of the former Soviet Union seeking the perfect destination to park, clean and re-export billions in stolen cash.” Saabsunited also has interesting words on Spyker, the Russians, and Cyprus.

But it’s all purely coincidental. Come on, Cyprus has beautiful beaches and even more beautiful ladies.

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Saab Puts $4k-$8k Incentives On 2009 Models Fri, 19 Mar 2010 16:26:56 +0000

In addition to lowering prices on 2010 models, Saab is introducing $4k-$8k incentives on 2009 models, according to Will that be enough to make the company’s goal of 100k sales? With only 500 2009 models available in the US, and 2009 sales of 39k units globally last year, the answer is almost certainly a resounding “no.”

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