By on June 14, 2011

So what are they saying in China about the Pangda/Youngman/Saab threeway? The blogs and message boards are full, of course. Cars are of high importance in CCC (car crazed China.) Much more important, what does China’s government say? Multiple agencies of the government will have to approve a deal with Saab. However, officials won’t utter a word before, often even after a deal is done or has been denied. But then, the government owns newspapers. Analysis of state media is a refined science in China. Let’s see some of it in action.

The clearest signals are professors of state universities writing op-ed pieces. The op-eds strictly reflect their own opinion only. Sure. Hummer was lambasted by the professors in many op-ed pieces, and we know how that ended. Geely’s purchase of Volvo was criticized while government-owned BAIC was in the running. The deal received praise when Geely was the only contender. And we know how that ended.

Now what about Saab? One day after the big announcement, how does the deal play in the state-owned press?

There are three papers to watch when we want to look for signals being sent abroad and to the international business community: There is People’s Daily, the paper of the Communist Party. Then there is Global Times, an English-writing sibling, also owned by the party. Global Times can be refreshingly candid, and is often used to test the waters. Finally, there is China Daily, owned by the Central government via the news agency Xinhua. What are they saying?

A search for “saab” in Global Times produces the result pictured above. Saab? Never heard of it. What Saab? However, they have buttons for Facebook and Twitter. Facebook and Twitter are blocked from China, but a CCP owned paper has them in its masthead? Interesting. Did I mention  that Global Times is often used to test the waters?

In People’s Daily, “saab” yields too many hits for “Elie Saab,” the fashion designer. The party paper is in love with Elie Saab.

Let’s narrow it to “Saab Youngman.” Sorry. Mei you. No have.

As far as the party organs go, Saab and Youngman is no news. State media write about the “Seven sins of express delivery” and about an American who teaches his Chinese wife how to drive in New Jersey. Saab/Pangda/Youngman doesn’t even make it to the business section.

The art of the snub is perfected by China Daily. China Daily outsources the criticism. Instead of writing a piece of its own, China Daily prints a piece from Reuters. Reuters doesn’t hold back:

“The deal is subject to approval from Chinese government agencies and third parties, an issue which has scuttled previously agreed investments from Chinese companies.”

“Beijing follows a strict and price-sensitive policy when it comes to outbound acquisitions, which means gaining Chinese clearance could still prove difficult.”

“Failure to secure approval scuttled Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery’s bid for General Motor Co’s Hummer in 2010.”

Why blast the deal yourself if the foreigners do such a good job? Well, China Daily did add something of their own. A picture of Youngman’s core competency:




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3 Comments on “On The Reception Of The Saab/Pangda/Youngman Deal In China’s State Media...”

  • avatar


    Really, guys? 4 articles in two days? I know the Kazaks have been busy recently, but this is outstanding.

    To cook a small fish without plenty of friction is best — ancient Kazak proverb. Or something like it.

  • avatar

    Not gonna happen, once some rational bureaucrat studies the deal.

    • 0 avatar

      Finding the rational bureaucrat is going to be a problem.

      the chinese government is currently bailing out its regional governments to the tune of $460 billion.

      what’s another $300 million or so at this point?

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