Brd Eker: Greed Killed The Saab Deal

Thor Johnsen
by Thor Johnsen

Bård Eker has given an open-hearted interview to Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, referred here at telling his version on the failed Saab-deal. Eker was one of the investors in the Koenigsegg Group’s bid for Saab, through his company, Eker Group – 49% owner of Koenigsegg Automotive. Here is his hindsight on the deal:

“General Motors made it very hard to buy Saab”, he says. “Saab wasn’t structured as a subordinate, it was completely swallowed into the massive GM body. And while you can remove a lung from a body, you can’t remove all the veins. And GM had not done the required separating job prior to starting negotiations with interested buyers. That was a contributing cause why things took longer time for us too”.

It also seemed Koenigsegg struggled to get GM to agree on a price for parts and components to Saab cars:

“Our mistake was to be open and frank about our business plan. In the beginning, no-one believed in it, but as time went and the plan made sense, the guys started to get greedy. GM wanted more money for their parts, and the Chinese wanted more for their money. That was the drop; greediness became so dominant we coudn’t take it any more.” Eker says to Aftenposten.

“My worries go to the 8,000 employees in western Sweden who faces unemployment. For their sake, I hope something good comes out of this,” he continues. The interview ends on a note of regret:

“The only winners here are the Chinese. I believe they got what they always wanted, and we were the regulators that prevented them from exploiting Saab, but they would have gotten their way anyway, without hurting Saab. Now it doesn’t matter anymore, for there is no Saab left to acquire.”

Thor Johnsen
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6 of 21 comments
  • Adub Adub on Dec 21, 2009

    GM would make more money (okay, some) if they sold Saab instead of winding it down. However, GM has a track record of screwing up most things it does, and this is no exception. As a forced shareholder in the abomination that is GM, I demand better!

  • Jack12 Jack12 on Dec 21, 2009

    Tictacdo - This is for all the shareholders that have lost money due to GM's destruction of Saab. This has mismanagement written all over it as in 2006 Saab was enjoying record sales. GM threw out the innovative and truly energy-saving Saab guts and replaced them with cheaper Opals (also going under, as I understand). Anyone know what actually happened over there? Smells like politics to me. Was the Swedish gov stepping on GM's toes? What a waste – what a shame.

  • Innatech Innatech on Dec 21, 2009

    The sale of SAAB to GM was a terrible match from the get-go. They abandoned the 900, which (love it or hate it) was the cornerstone of their success in the late 80's/early 90's. The cars lost their distinctiveness and took on that generic GM feel--precisely opposite to the taste of the brand's following. The vestigial SAAB design elements felt more like a mockery than anything else. Buyers don't need to worry about extricating recently developed technology and tooling from GM. Let it go. Just get the brand itself, and ownership of the original IP from before the buyout, as cheap as possible. Then leave the market for few years and return with a new version of the 900, strongly resembling the old one. Park it in front of the Gripen's nose gear, and hang the old seal behind it. It will sell.

    • Len_A Len_A on Dec 21, 2009

      While some of what you say has some truth to it, namely that Saab's marriage to GM was problematic from the get-go, the rest of this post illustrates why car enthusiasts, as well as some of the people I've seen posting on non auto websites, like, don't have the first clue as to what they're talking about. First of all, any potential buyer of Saab absolutely 100% has to worry about "extricating recently developed technology and tooling from GM". It's called "warranty parts" first of all, and second of all "legal liability" for any legal actions from current owners. GM's not to accept 100% of the total liability, and any new potential owners isn't going to contractually share that liability without some control over the tooling and technology to make those parts. Secondly, "Then leave the market for few years and return with a new version of the 900..." - are you kidding me? Oh, the dealers are going to love that. First decimate whatever value their franchises have, piss off the customers with remaining valid warranties, including confuse the hell out of them as to where they can go to get "factory service", then try and come back into the market. "It will sell"? Not even if God came down from heaven and told people to buy it.

  • Jack12 Jack12 on Dec 22, 2009

    I recently learned that Saab engineers jets for the Swedish Air Force- are they still doing that? Does anyone know?