Our Daily Saab: Duck And Cover
Where to start? Let’s start with the money. The $96 million promised by China’s Youngman and badly needed by Saab are not here. They haven’t left China either. Not just because China is on vacation. Youngman claims they have not received what they were promised, and until that happens, no money will be sent. “If the conditions are not met, we cannot pay,” Rachel Pang, president of Youngman, said in an email to Dagens Industri. Welcome to China. Now wait what the Swedes have up their sleeves.
The Swedish paper Sydsvenskan reaches Rachel Pang per phone. Ms. Pang says Saab hasn’t kept its end of the deal. “When they have transferred the technology into an escrow account, we will pay,” she says. The technology is the construction data for the PhoeniX platform. Hard to transfer that per bank wire, but who knows. The paper asks about the NDRC. Ms. Pang says they had a good meeting. “They want to be ready soon.” How soon? Ms. Pang has no comment.
Saab needs the money in a hurry. The Swedish government is currently paying the salaries of Saab’s workers. But only until October 20. Then Saab has to pay. “What if Saab does not have the money to meet payroll?” Dagens Industri asks. “It will be the same as in June, July and August – we will start the process to secure our members’ money,” answers Martin Wästfelt, legal counsel of Unionen, one of the unions of Saab’s workers. It will go very quickly then. On October 31 is a creditors’ meeting. The Unions will be the main creditors.
So where is the money? Dagens Industri comes to the conclusion that there “is a knot in the deal between Youngman and Saab,” and we tend to agree.
Other people seem to agree also. Such as the Swedish government, and the reorganization administrator Guy Lofalk. Guy Lofalk recently traveled to China and shopped Saab around. Apparently, he was not dispatched by Saab. He was dispatched by the Swedish government. There are two versions of this story.
The benign version is told by Dagens Industri. The paper writes that the Swedish government wants to take over the 230 million Euro loan from the European Investment bank, thereby becoming an owner in Saab. Then, the Swedes want to sell the company quickly to a Chinese buyer. Any Chinese would be fine. The Swedish government would prefer – the yellow devil you know – Geely.
The sinister version is told by Swedish Radio. It basically reiterates the same game plan, but under the headline “Lofalk has gone behind the backs of Saab.” The station says that the Swedish government wants to “get rid of Saab’s CEO Victor Muller.” The station claims that Lofalk convinced Pang Da and Youngman to withdraw from the deal, which would explain the missing money. The station says that Lofalk came back from China with the news that he has Geely as a buyer.
Let’s check in with the faithful at Saabsunited. They never liked Dagens Industri, and they prefer the sinister version.
Geely is on record that they don’t want Saab, but this can change. If some of the above becomes reality instead of duck soup, then there is another problem in China: Only one company can ask for NDRC approval at any given time. A slighted Youngman can wait forever and tell Geely to take a number. Which would mean that the Swedish government will own Saab. If it is dumb enough to go for it. They aren’t stupid.
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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