Saab Firmly Under Chinese Control (If All Goes Well)

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
saab firmly under chinese control if all goes well

The assembly lines in Trollhättan are still down and will be down for a while. With Spyker & Saab gasping for money, another Chinese party threw them a life line today. The price: Saab will be in Chinese control if and when all is approved.

Today, Saab, Chinese distributor Pangda Automobile and car manufacturer Zhejiang Youngman Lotus “signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU). The MOU includes an equity participation in the total aggregate amount of about EUR 245 million as well as a strategic alliance consisting of a three partite distribution joint venture and a tripartite manufacturing joint venture for Saab-branded and child brand vehicles in China,” Spyker says in a statement. The statement continues:

“The equity stake of Pang Da in Spyker will remain at 24 % raising its investment to EUR 109 million. The share price remains at EUR 4.19 per share and Pang Da will have the right to nominate up to two members of the Supervisory Board of Spyker.

Youngman will take a 29.9 % interest in Spyker on a fully diluted basis investing EUR 136 million at EUR 4.19 per share. Youngman will have the right to nominate up to two members of the Supervisory Board of Spyker.”

29.9 plus 24 percent equals 53.9 percent, says my calculator. Bingo. Saab is Chinese.

Then, there will be several Chinese joint ventures.

  • There will be a manufacturing JV that makes “Saab branded and child branded vehicles for the China market.” Saab Automobile and Youngman will each have a 45 percent interest in the manufacturing JV and Pang Da will hold the remaining 10 percent.
  • Then, there will be a distribution JV. Saab Automobile and Youngman will each have a 33 percent interest, Pangda will hold 34 percent.

Now keep in mind that Saab is owned by Spyker. If the deal goes through, Youngman and Pangda will own the joint ventures via their ownership of Spyker and hence Saab, and then again directly. Victor Muller better polish his resume.

Says AFP: “The deal, which still requires regulatory approval from a number of authorities, would place basically all of Sweden’s auto industry in Chinese hands, after Swedish brand Volvo was bought by Chinese Geely from Ford last year. Saab and Spyker chief executive Victor Muller said he was thrilled by the deal.”

Production will stay shut down at least until the end of this week, company spokeswoman Gunilla Gustavs told AFP, adding it was too soon to say when the assembly line would begin moving again.

Youngman is a relative nobody in the highly fractionalized Chinese auto market. They are more known for their buses. Youngman Lotus makes uninspired cars with the Lotus badge for added cognitive dissonance.

Whether Saab will continue to live another day or die, that is in the hands of Chinese regulators, GM, and European governments. AFP has its doubts: “It remained unclear however if the deal would be approved quickly enough to rescue Saab.”

The Financial Times called around and received nothing but unenthused comments.

Bill Russo, head of Synergistics, a Beijing auto consultancy, and former head of Chrysler in China, said: “Going public before doing the political engineering is generally not a pathway to success in China”.

“I don’t think Youngman has enough credibility to be the third partner in the Pang Da-Saab deal”, Namrita Chow, analyst with IHS Automotive, told the FT. “Beijing is unlikely to give approval for a venture that will bring direct competition to BAIC”.

Maybe, maybe not. There are rumors in Beijing that the smaller companies could be stalking horses for a bigger Chinese company. Saving Saab in Europe and setting up a new factory in China needs someone with bigger pockets.

What are the insiders in Sweden saying? Not much. The Saabsunited fanzine runs the press release uncommented between the story of a Saab with three big dogs, and an update about the still unsolved leaseback. And what does have? A story about a drive through the Swedish midsummer night.

Prior dealings received much more fanfare.

Update: inside.saab now runs the press release. Without any comments.

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  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂