GM to Keep Stake in Saab

Thor Johnsen
by Thor Johnsen

Attending the IAA in Frankfurt are all (most of) the involved parties in the Saab/GM/Koenigsegg/BAIC-and whoever deal. For fans without a scorecard, that’s Saab Automobiles’ CEO Jan Åke Jonsson, Christian von Koenigsegg and Bård Eker of Koenigsegg Group, CEO of GM Europe Carl-Peter Forster and BAIC’s CEO, Mr. Wang Dazong. While the details behind the S/G/K/B/W deal are still being held under wraps, there are some interesting views and thoughts drifting through the autoblogosphere. Mr. Wang tells that Saab will be part of BAIC’s global vision, which is part of BAIC’s 10-year plan. Wang assures that BAIC has no other intentions than being a minority owner, and describes the Saab/BAIC deal to be a win-win, yin-yang thang. After all, we learn, Wang learned to drive in a Saab. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reveals Wang’s plans to base the Saab deal on the “strategic alliance” between Renault and Nissan. And now the real news . . .

Speaking in Frankfurt, GM Europe President Carl-Peter Forster said that GM intends to keep a stake in Saab, in “a specific financial structure which will be revealed when the time comes.” This after GM’s shelled-out a billion Euros—and counting—to dump Saab.

As to why GM is paying so much money to lose its Saab-shaped packning. “The view of General Motors was that Saab is a premium brand [ED: not that one again] that needs special attention, a thorough and careful management that are outside a volume manufacturer . . . Therefore we are looking for people who have marketing skills and great vision for the future. I think the Koenigsegg is a good solution for Saab.”

No mention of the Chinese, then.

How about this? Saab Director Jan Åke Jonsson admits that GM’s contribution to Saab could end-up somewhere around the ten billion Euro mark. “Through various agreements, we will maintain cooperation with GM and GM delivers a lot of goods that they make money on, like engines and transmissions”, he says, by way of an explanation of GM’s benevolence.

To, Jonsson has nothing but praise—surprise!—for businessman Augie K Fabela, U.S. chairman of Koenigsegg Group. “He is an incredibly charismatic and inspirational individual who likes to build brands and operating companies,”says Jonsson. So charismatic that Saab/GM/Koenigsegg/BAIC-and whoever have sequestered Mr. Fabela from the media’s unblinking eye.

Jonnson says that BAIC didn’t put in a bid on Saab themselves; they were [just] one of 27 interested parties. Yes, twenty-seven.

Jonsson’s concerned about Saab’s rep damage during the last year, admitting that sales goals for the new 9-5 are set lower than the outgoing model’s best selling years (40-50,000 units annually, as opposed to 60,000 for the old 9-5). He also reveals—surprise!—that hybrids and EVs are on Saab/Koenigseggs future planning sheets.

Speaking to, Christian von Koenigsegg said Saab will start delivering positive results in 2012, when the new 9-3 will be, uh, unleashed. “But if the 9-5 doesn’t work out, it will be hard to turn Saab positive.” Verkligen? also reports that Bård Ekers has a positive attitude towards shipping the tools for the old 9-5 to China for assembly there. “It’s a good idea,” he says. As for Saab’s technical knowledge disappearing to China, it’s no big thang. “They won’t have anything for free—they’ll have to pay”

Not to coin a phrase, it’s gittin, it’s gittin, it’s gittin kinda hectic. Christian von Koenigsegg believes an agreement with Beijing Automotive can be written by the end of October. The European Investment Bank (EIB) is set to soon decide on the vital loan of around 4 billion Euros on 21 October.

“I have been informed that they can make a decision, but put in a passage that certain conditions must be met. It will be tough, but I am positive,” he says. I guess he hasn’t heard the expression Bygg ej större hus än du förmår lägga tak på (don’t build bigger houses than you may set roofs on)?

Thor Johnsen
Thor Johnsen

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  • Panzerfaust Panzerfaust on Sep 16, 2009

    I like the title of this article; rather reminiscint of how Dr. Van Helsing kept a stake in things.

  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on Sep 16, 2009

    GM justs wants to be involved enough to grab ideas and keep an idea on the competition that is buying their former divisions.

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