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…)
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. (Read More…)
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. (Read More…)
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. Autoinformatief.com 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.
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…)
In addition to lowering prices on 2010 models, Saab is introducing $4k-$8k incentives on 2009 models, according to bankrate.com. 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.”
With Russian financiers offering up to $100m to back the new Saab-Spyker project, it’s not surprising that the internet is awash with glad tidings of new cars from the new Dutch-Swedish venture. On the Saab side, CEO Victor Muller and company are teasing analysts with news that Saab is “already working on plans” for a new compact car, tentatively named 9-1. Having quoted Muller as saying the 9-1 had a “better than average chance”of being built (whatever that means), Automotive News Europe [sub] filled in the blanks:
[The 9-1] would be needed to help achieve Saab’s stated goal of closing the gap with BMW and Audi. Saab debuted a concept for an entry-premium car at the 2008 Geneva auto show. ANE sister publication AutoWeek named the 9-X BioHybrid the best concept at that year’s event.
We are delighted – Saab’s future is now secure. From today we will be concentrating all of our efforts into reviving Saab and transforming it into a sustainable and profitable company with the confidence to be bold. We will reinforce the emotional experience between Saab drivers and their cars and we will focus on Saab’s historical strengths in the fields of independent thinking, aircraft heritage, ecological performance and motorsport.
Through this acquisition we add approximately 15 euros per share in equity and 60 euros of assets. With a well funded business plan in place we are looking forward to working with Saab’s management on the realization of that plan and bringing exciting new products to our customers. Real Saabs, Saab Saabs.
In the confusion of the recent Saab-Spyker deal, an interesting tidbit has flown beneath the radar until recently. Most industry news outlets [ourselves included] had reported that Spyker’s backing from Russia’s Conversbank had given GM intellectual property nightmares, and that the deal had gone through with backing from other corners. Not so, it turns out. Bloomberg [via BusinessWeek] reports that Alexander Antonov confirms his bank supplied the first $25m in payments to GM. A strange turn of events, considering Russian backing for Magna’s failed Opel bid (and GM’s attendant IP paranoia) was said to have scuttled the deal (and that didn’t even have Convers’s bizarre Chechen blood feud connection).
One more obstacle to the Spyker-Saab deal has been eliminated, as BusinessWeek reports that the EU has approved the Swedish government’s guarantee of a €400m ($547m) loan to the company from the European Investment Bank. EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes approved the loan today, saying it would not cause “any undue distortions of competition,” and that Saab had offered “adequate remuneration” and collateral. The EIB still has to give the loan final approval, a prospect that Swedish government officials say is likely, despite the fact that €320m of the package was originally intended as an environmentally-friendly car development fund. As Bertel Schmitt put it, “keeping the lights on in Trollhättan while GM delivers parts doesn’t quite fit the purpose.” Unless of course you’re willing to justify anything to get your hands on the new 2010 9-3X “Cross-Combi,” which SaabHistory claims can now be pre-ordered from the remaining US Saab dealers. And if the sedated Swedes in this video are anything to go on, the 9-3X is sure to be, well, a Saab.
Spyker has set the goal of turning a profit with its newly-purchased Saab division by 2012, reports Automotive News [sub]. That effort will be led by a total of three Saab products: the existing 9-3 (with a new version rumored for 2011), the forthcoming 9-5 sedan and, later next year, the GM-built Saab 9-4X Crossover. Other models, including a 9-1 compact are being hinted at, but Spyker acknowledges that such a product would require about a billion dollars more than Saab-Spyker currently has access to. Meanwhile, those three vehicles will have to generate 100k-125k annual sales in order to keep the business plan rolling along. Saab-Spyker honcho Victor Muller has an almost shockingly confident take on this possibility, telling Reuters:
It’s all about the restoration of the confidence in the company. Customers have been very reluctant to buy because of the uncertainty surrounding the brand… Saab has to do nothing but regain its existing and old customers because that in itself would be in enough to create a very strong business model..
Saab sold a total of 8,680 vehicles in the US over the course of 2009. Globally, the firm sold 39,903 units last year, down from 94,751 in 2008. Perhaps the challenge is a bit more difficult than Muller lets on.
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…)
It’s been a looooong wait and lots of nail biting for Saab employees and Saab enthusiasts around the world, but GM and Spyker have reached a preliminary agreement on a Saab sale. The deal includes amongst other things the rights to the Saab brand of course, the Trollhättan production facilities (which was important to Spyker – more on that in a bit), the rights to produce and sell the existing 9-3′s, the new 9-5 and 9-4x models. Former Saab CEO Jan-Åke Jonsson, who was let go when the liqudation of Saab started, will be reinstated as CEO. He, and Spykers CEO Victor Muller have been named the heroes of this deal – Jonsson for his endurance and stamina “He didn’t walk out the back-door as liquidation started – instead he started nightly negotiations, writes Aftonbladet.se in a tribute to Jonssons’ role. And Spyker’s Muller’s charm and persistence have also been mentioned as a crucial part in securing Saab from GM.
A lot of what we have written in the last few days, even what we have not yet written, is utterly wrong, say the objects of our writings. Here are the denials of the day. (Read More…)