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 DI.se 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.
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…
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 thelocal.se. 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.
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…)
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.