By on May 21, 2011


Supposedly, the idea of the Saab / Pangda deal was to skirt requirements to obtain Chinese government approval. As we have explained on the day the MoU (as  Muller sees it) or contract (as Pangda sees it) was signed, it would be most silly to try to get around the Chinese government. They have a whole array of measures to demonstrate their displeasure if they don’t like a deal.

If ChinaCarTimes is correctly informed, the paperwork was barely dry and the Chinese government already made its annoyance felt. According to a CCT report, the Chinese government issued  a warning to Pangda. The story is written in Chinglish, but this is what it seems to be saying:

On May 18, only two days after the Saab/Pangda deal was announced, China’s powerful National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) summoned the Chinese automakers that might be involved in a manufacturing joint venture with Saab, and warned them not to get into a bidding war, because that would “hurt their own interests and benefit the overseas companies.” This is sourced on an anonymous source at one of the companies present in the meeting.

An observer who is not familiar with Chinese customs might think that this means that the deal is a go, but Chinese companies should simply not overpay. There is no need to tell a Chinese businessman to get the best deal. If that meeting took place, then the message was something else. These meetings run in China under the euphemism “invitation to tea.”  If you are invited, your opinions are heard, and opinions by the government are expressed. There might be “recommendations,” nothing more. The overall signal is: Big government is watching you. Be careful. Maybe just drop it.

Dow Jones (via Morningstar) cites from an article that appeared in China’s Economic Observer. It comes to the most damning conclusion: China “won’t allow Saab to sign agreements with three companies–Beijing Automotive Industry Holdings Co., which signed a technology purchasing deal with Saab in 2009, Hawtai Motor Group Co. and Pang Da Automobile Trade Co.”

In related news, Pangda doesn’t seem to be the ultimate rich uncle from China anyway. Despite the China deal, Muller and Saab were still hoping on money from their Russian sugar daddy Vladimir Antonov. Antoniov was supposed to buy the factory building of Saab and lease it back to Saab. This would free up cash. However, the real estate secures a loan from the European Investment Bank, which was co-signed by the Swedish government. Both would have to approve the deal. They haven’t yet.

According to a report in Dagens Industri, “Saab Automobile is tired of waiting for the EIB to endorse Vladimir Antonov, and is now trying to sell the factory property to other investors.”  A real estate broker has already visited Trollhättan.

Industry analysts that were quizzed by Dagens Industri think that Antonov is being frozen out of a deal that would make him a co-owner of Saab. Vladimir Antonov thinks otherwise and paints a happy face on the proposed real estate transaction.

“The more investors that want to contribute funds to Saab, the better”  Antonov told Dagens Industri.

But then, who wants to own land, building, fixtures and improvements of a factory that has a tenant who is currently unable to pay suppliers?  Saabsunited still thinks Vladimir would be best and started a letter-writing campaign to convince Fredrik Reinfeldt, Sweden’s Prime Minister, to let Antonov  invest in Sweden.

So the Dutch, Chinese, and Russians are supposed to save Saab? What a family.

PS: In a recent article, Saabsunited said that I “freely admit that my initials spell BS” (guys, they have been embroidered on my shirt pockets ever since I had monogrammed shirt pockets). At the same time, Saabsunited praised Chinacartimes for their “expert analysis.” Let’s see who’s on Saabsunited’s Christmas list now.

PS: In the meantime, CCT has cleaned up the Chinglish, which changes the slant of the story somewhat. If the story is right, the Pangda deal is in deep trouble. See yourself.

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16 Comments on “CCT: Chinese Government Issues Warning To Parties involved In The Saab Deal. Antonov Still Hopeful...”

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Sigh. If the far more worthy brands (at the time of their demise) of Packard, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac could not be saved, they why should Saab? Perhaps when these Russian and Chinese businessmen are done saving Saab they can buy the rights to those names?

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      Pontiac had good product in the form of the G8 and Solstice at the time of its shutdown, but Oldsmobile was sadly gutted, selling nicer looking Grand Ams (Alero) and Trailblazers (Bravada).

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        And you know what? I’ve seen guys total Aleros in acidents and go hunt high and low for another Alero. The Intrique was the best loved by the enthousiast mags of the cars being built on that platform. And don’t forget the Aurora. It was a better Cadillac than the Cadillacs that were being sold at the time.

      • 0 avatar
        SVX pearlie

        The Aurora & Intrigue were arguably the best cars GM built at the time Olds was shuttered.

      • 0 avatar

        The Aurora was a very good car that deerserved a better fate. Dan is right, Cadillac had nothing close to it at the time.

      • 0 avatar

        Oldsmobile and Pontiac went to their graves with as much dignity as they could.

        It is a shame that both went down without a heritage nameplate in their lineups though.

  • avatar

    Good: here in CT, I’m seeing more new 9-5s on the road. Bad: but I’m seeing even more new Bimmers. Way more. Ugly: Saab dealers are advertising attractive deals for buyers but not leasers. Hmmmm.

    Fact is the automotive marketplace is glutted with brands and models. This isn’t a good time for consumers to have nagging suspicions about the rate of depreciation of depreciating assets. It’s hard to buy a really bad car these days, so why buy one that might join Packard, Studebaker, Olds, Pontiac etcetc? Aye, there’s the rub.

  • avatar

    The headline made me think Ukrainian aircraft manufacturer Antonov was thinking of acquiring Saab.

  • avatar

    They can whine any which way, and blame the government for cloak and dagger conspiracy until they turn blue in the face, it doesn’t change the fact that Saab simply isn’t a going concern. They don’t have any money to pay the rent, they don’t have any money to pay the suppliers, they don’t have any money even to have the lights turned on. They don’t have any money simply because the company doesn’t make a profit. It’s simply not a viable business opportunity, they have such a negative equity that not even the government sees any money in it. They are bust and bankrupt, and that’s it.

  • avatar

    Say what you want I will once again say long live Saab, they have lasted longer than anyone thought they would, they are the zombie car company that will not die.

    • 0 avatar
      John Horner

      Hey, maybe Saab management should surf over the the CDC’s Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide , or maybe those instructions be more useful to the non-Saab people in the Trollhaten area ;).

  • avatar

    Yes, the Aurora was a great car. As long as you didn’t mind wiring harness to the doors that broke because they were flexed everytime you opened the door. As long as you didn’t mind the million plus fuses in three separate areas. As long as you didn’t have to put timeserts in the block due to head bolt replacement. RIP Aurora.

  • avatar

    Good to see the usual threadjack suspects.

    Some people in urbania and suburbia dont aspire to the endless supply of black and grey German cars and ovlovs. And everybodies V6s kinda suck. Saab created a genre that fills (or did?) that niche worldwide. Twenty years of lame GM management will take some time to overcome.

    And remember…People that CAN,DO!! People that CANT get masters degrees and ______. Packards? Aleros? Really?

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Is there a rational business case for Saab? If there is then why is it so hard to get all the ducks in a row for the interested parties?

      Is there a rational business case for Buick outside of China? (I would submit, No.) Was there a rational business case for Pontiac outside of North America? No. Forgive we Americans (and a few Candians) for feeling “cheated” that a brand we liked got killed so that China’s favorite car could survive. And Oldsmobile’s death always seemed like a “just cause we could” moment for GM. Did freeing up Oldsmobile’s resources help GM in any way? It’s been about a decade since Oldsmobile died, I can’t see that it helped GM in any way shape or form.

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