Saab Refuses To Confirm (Or Rule Out) Court-Protected Reorganization

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Swedish radio cites an unnamed source close to Saab as saying the troubled automaker was preparing to file for court-protected reorganization, as it struggles to pay workers and restart production. Under that scenario, Sweden would pay worker salaries while reorganization takes place. But at the company’s official mouthpiece, inside.saab.com, a press release refuses to deny or rule out that Saab has chosen this route. The release reads:

Swedish Automobile N.V. (Swan) is aware of certain reports in Swedish media related to a possible filing by Saab Automobile AB (Saab Automobile) for a voluntary reorganization under Swedish law.

Swan confirms its earlier announcements that it is in discussions with several parties to secure the short and medium term funding of Saab Automobile to restart and sustain production. In order to secure the continuity of Saab Automobile, Swan and Saab Automobile are evaluating all available options. Swan will update the market in case of new developments.

This non-denial might be read as a confirmation that Saab is considering filing for court protection, but hasn’t yet decided on that course of action. Meanwhile, Saab has delayed its latest financial report, and its online PR rep continues to blame the media for concluding that because Saab can’t sell cars, pay suppliers, restart production or even pay salaries on time it’s destined for bankruptcy court.

In the comments section of the posted press release quote above, Saab PR man Steve Wade writes

I understand that Saab’s situation creates some degree of uncertainty. But surely the whirlpool that’s surrounding this company in the press happens – in the press and at their instigation.

There are reports all over the place about the things that “might” happen to Saab. We’re not the ones writing them but we’re the ones who have to deal with the fallout. We’re doing the same things we’ve said all along – negotiating and trying to get the right deal done and finished. This was serious, so we responded. But if we respond to every specific allegation about what “might” happen to us then you get a crazy game of back-and-forth that the press will keep playing until they hit a desired target.

Expect this whirlpool to continue until a deal is done. Why? Because it sells papers. It gets views. We take our share of the blame about our situation. I don’t think we can shoulder all the blame over the public’s perception of it because we can’t outrun the press and we can’t report on things that aren’t done and finalised.

I was with Wade through the first sentence. Then he lost me. Blaming the media for adding one plus one and getting two only increases the perception that Saab’s only hope for a rescue is finding someone who is not aware of how bad things have become. In fact, I would argue that it’s almost irresponsible journalism to report Saab’s circumstances without including some reference to the likelihood of bankruptcy.

And Wade’s argument, that the Saab story “sells papers,” doesn’t jive with my experience: our Saab coverage gets consistently lower pageviews than other, unrelated content, and it doesn’t generate the kinds of strong, engaging comment threads that other pieces do. The fact of the matter is that most people think Saab went out of business years ago, and the only people still aware of its existence are desperate for this sad, drawn-out, slow-motion-death-rattle to be over. Not only does nobody take joy at Saab’s passing, most went through the grieving process when GM sold the brand (if they didn’t already do so when GM bought the brand). The idea that hordes of media consumers are driving a feeding frenzy around Saab’s decaying corpse is downright absurd. Almost as absurd as the idea that Saab will secure new investment and find its way out of this situation without falling into the arms of the bankruptcy courts.


Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Trollhattan Saab Trollhattan Saab on Aug 27, 2011

    Ed, Please don't take TTAC's comments numbers as the sole measure of the feeding frenzy around Saab. I certainly wasn't thinking of TTAC when I wrote about that. The most prominent place for Saab stories is, naturally, in Sweden. Here we have new stories literally every day that either dig up old stories and put a new twist on them or speculate with a laser focus on the most pessimistic option possible, as to what 'might' happen to Saab in the coming hours/days/weeks. And then there's the other stuff, like one of the papers this week that took photos of a house under construction that's owned by two of our staff members (a married professional couple with kids - God forbid they should ever build a home). They even doorknocked the neighborhood to see if the house bothered people, etc. This is the level of stuff that we're dealing with here, now. You can deny it if you want, but here in Sweden especially, Saab=pageviews right now and for all the wrong reasons. And the lengths that the media are willing to go to for a scoop are getting more and more extraordinary. From your own site - number of stories mentioning Saab in the last 8 days - (at least) four. I can think of one other major story in the automotive sphere that I'd personally read as being pretty scandalous and a search through your archive shows one short story about it, with no attempts a deep-dive discussion like going through articles or comments for quotes as you've done here, and no follow-up. How about what would be for TTAC, a devil's advocate story? How about a look at what Saab's got going for it if/when a short term deal is done that can carry us through to the longer term deals we have in place with the Chinese? If you look, and you don't have to dig too deep, you'll see that there's a lot of very good stuff going on here in Sweden. Steven Wade inside.saab.com

    • See 3 previous
    • Paul W Paul W on Aug 28, 2011

      @Paul W "Try the big paper, Sir." But isn't that exactly what I did? As far as I'm aware, DN is Sweden's largest morning newspaper with THREE TIMES the circulation of DI. SvD is a much bigger newspaper as well. Let's check the tabloids too just to make sure... nope, no Saab stories in the top 10 over at Aftonbladet or Expressen. I don't need to tell you that DI has covered Saab's roller-coaster ride more extensively (and perhaps more critically) than arguably any other newspaper in Sweden. Therefore, DI is still the epicenter of Saab debates, and I'll grant you that the number of comments written in response to Saab articles is still fairly high at this particular site. However, if you look at the number of readers of these articles, you'll notice that they haven't managed to reach the top 10 - not this week, not even this MONTH. What I'm trying to debunk here is the notion that Saab stories still attract eyeballs and sell newspapers. They clearly don't. In my mind there's only ONE Saab story left that would attract attention beyond the group of hardcore Saab fanatics, and that's the one of the company's final demise.

  • Davekaybsc Davekaybsc on Aug 27, 2011

    So let's say if/when the short term financing comes through, and you can actually keep the lights on for a few more months. Then what? Do you really think that buyers are going to start beating down the doors for a 9-4X: essentially an SRX with the old motors that the press trashed and Cadillac dumped? Or the 9-5, a car ludicrously overpriced and simply not competitive in any way against anyone else's product, save for the real bottom of the barrel stuff that the other guys also can't give away (Volvo S80 and Acura RL)? I know, I know you'll say sure these products are mediocre GM throwaways, but the 9-3 is coming! That's what you were gonna say, right? And I suppose shoppers are just going to come streaming out of their C-classes, A4s, and oh *BRAND NEW BMW 3 SERIES* (otherwise known as the unstoppable Juggernaut in that segment) and straight to the Saab dealer (assuming they are still in business). Be serious man. It's over. You had a good ride. There's just no room left for two Swedish sorta-kinda luxury brands (especially when they get delusional enough to start charging German prices). Volvo won, you lost. Did you see what HP did with WebOS? Do that. Shut it down.

  • 3-On-The-Tree Jeff I a,so had a 1969 Thunderbird with the 429 V8, and it was a smooth highway cruiser. I sold all those cars when I got commissioned into the Army. I regret selling those cars and miss the simplicity of them. I do have an 1985 FJ 60 Land Cruiser and it is real easy to get to everything in the engine bay. My 16 year old son inherited it. The Mavericks are pretty popular here in Az.
  • John Hummer owners don't care. Like shingles.
  • Wjtinfwb Funny. When EV's were bursting onto the scene; Tesla's, Volt's, Leaf's pure EV was all the rage and Hybrids were derided because they still used a gas engine to make them, ahem; usable. Even Volt's were later derided when it was revealed that the Volt's gas engine was actually connected to the wheels, not just a generator. Now, Hybrids are warmly welcomed into the Electric fraternity by virtue of being "electrified". If a change in definition is what it takes, I'm all for it. Hybrid's make so much sense in most American's usage patterns and if needed you can drive one cross-country essentially non-stop. Glad to see Hybrid's getting the love.
  • 3-On-The-Tree We also had a 1973 IH Scout that we rebuilt the engine in and it had dual glass packs, real loud. I miss those days.
  • 3-On-The-Tree Jeff thanks. Back in 1990 we had a 1964 Dodge D100 with a slant six with a 3 on the tree. I taught myself how to drive a standard in that truck. It was my one of many journeys into Mopar land. Had a 1973 Plymouth duster with a slant six and a 1974 Dodge Dart Custom with 318 V8. Great cars and easy to work on.
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