Bertel Schmitt Fired From TTAC - Saab Saved

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

This was the headline many Saab aficionados were looking for (and we have the emails to prove it.) On Saab’s darkest day, we might as well put a smile on the faces of Saab’s most militant missionaries – even if the smile lasts only a few seconds.

Two days ago, Saab filed for court protection – the Swedish variant of Chapter 11. That must be approved by the court – and today, the court denied it. Says the Wall Street Journal:

“Saab Automobile AB was denied bankruptcy protection from creditors by a Swedish court Thursday, clearing the way for labor unions representing unpaid workers to petition for bankruptcy and reclaim unpaid wages.”

As we reported two days ago, there were doubts whether the Saab application would fulfill the legal requirements for creditor protection. Namely, a sensible business plan, and reasonable hope for success. The Vänersborg district court could not find any of that in the application and denied it. The court doubted the viability of Saab’s China deals and said it is unclear if and when the Chinese deals would be approved. Sounds familiar.

Saab will appeal. However, if Trollhättan’s hometown court doesn’t give Saab a chance of survival, it is highly unlikely that a court of appeals will see it differently. While the appeal process runs, Muller admitted today in a press conference, “the company is unprotected, and the stability we were seeking is not there. So we will appeal to all stakeholders to hold their horses until such time the appeal decision has been taken.”

Translation: Please, creditors, don’t file for bankruptcy, or we are done.

The next steps are as predictable as paint-by-numbers. Explains the WSJ:

“If Saab had been granted protection from creditors, it would have been able to use the Swedish state’s salary guarantee to pay wages and would have had more time to sort out its finances.

However, the union will likely proceed with a petition for a bankruptcy, as they can only seek state unemployment benefits if they petition for the bankruptcy of their employer.”

“We have no choice,” said Darko Davidovic, a lawyer for blue-collar labor union IF Metall. “We can’t play around with our members’ wages.”

Despite the appeal to hold the horses, the media is already rolling out their eulogies. Writes Fortune:

“Without approval, Saab could disappear like many other automotive brands, from Hudson and Packard to Studebaker and Saturn. Muller’s company bought Saab from GM, following GM’s 2009 bankruptcy. GM has continued to supply components and engines to Saab, as well as fully-completed 9-4X models, a compact sport utility vehicle cloned from the Cadillac SRX and built at a GM plant in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico. “Saab hasn’t built anything since June,” said Jim Cain, a GM spokesman. “They’ve struggled to get financing. It’s too bad.”

We will run our Saab eulogy when Saab is really dead.Victor Muller said that the appeal is plan C and if that won’t work, he will go to plan D. As in done, dead, demolished.


Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href="http://www.tomokoandbertel.com"> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href="http://www.offshoresuperseries.com"> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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