Our Daily Saab: Dark Clouds Gather Around Saab's White Knight

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

Pangda, one of Saab’s presumptive white knights, could itself be facing financial difficulties. Both the staid government-owned China Daily and the more outspoken Taiwan-based China Times report strange financial going-ons at PangDa. Says China Times:

“Shareholders and securities analysts are scratching their heads over how a top automobile marketing group in China managed to “burn” a huge fund of 6 billion yuan (US$944 million) in just six months. Many have speculated that Pang Da Automobile Trade Co has shifted to financial leasing services to cope with stalling car sales caused by the government’s credit-tightening regulations.”

According to China Daily, $659 million had been “used to repay bank loans and supplement working capital.” China Times reports a lot of the money as lost and says:

“Corporate executives have dodged the questions about what happened to the capital from the initial IPO fund.”

Further digging revealed:

“The group has been saddled with financial leasing operations exceeding 2 billion yuan (US$314.8 million), although the company did not include this information in its IPO prospectus.”

Even after the record IPO, Pangda finds itself short of funds.To rectify this, a corporate bond issue of nearly $600 million has been approved.

For years, Pangda has operated a successful auto financing operation in the usually credit-adverse China. It is a risky undertaking. In the “Jidong Mode” of car financing, named after the predecessor company of Pangda, the dealer guarantees the bank loan of the car. For years, PangDa has been running a giant Buy here, pay here operation, replete with GPS transmitters in cars, company-own credit enforcers and repossessions. When a customer defaults, PangDa pays off the loan, repossesses the car and sells it to recoup part of the loss. This model worked fine during times of easy money, but those times are over. Says China Times:

“Securities analysts said the newly disclosed financial information means that the business model followed by the company is no longer as effective, as the central government has squeezed credit to fight inflation and dampen speculative real estate purchases.

Growing numbers of enterprises in China have complained of the increasing difficulty of getting bank loans as financial institutions have also found themselves short of funds.”

Sound familiar?

A lot of these reports are based on an in-depth piece in the printed version of China’s 21st Century Herald, which keeps good relations with the top echelons of the auto industry.

With money getting scarcer by the day, it did not help that Pangda had already written off “bad debts of 45 million euros which were paid to SAAB as the latter may become bankrupt.”

Join the conversation
  • Domestic Hearse Domestic Hearse on Nov 03, 2011

    So lemme get this straight, Pangda wants to buy a car company nobody in China has ever heard of that's in serious financial trouble itself, and maybe has a new platform ready for future vehicles -- and maybe not. Then Pangda's gonna sell these cars nobody ever heard of to Chinese consumers who don't like to buy on credit -- during a down market. But let's just say, for the sake of argument, Panda is able to A) convince Chinese consumers to buy a quirky Swedish car brand, B) on credit the old buy-here, pay-here (acc'ts receivable) way. Unlikely, but hey. It's a set-up to this... C) Then a whole bunch of people default on their Saab payment schedule and D) Pangda goes out and re-po's a whole bunch of Saabs they just sold to try to recoup some of their losses, which apparently, have been pretty steep of late. Now, we got a whole 'nuther problem. E) What could be worth less than a re-po'ed Saab in China? I mean, could anything possibly lose its value faster? Maybe a used stamp, but even those might become collectable some day.

  • Majda Majda on Nov 03, 2011

    Block that metaphor!

  • Tassos What was the last time we had any good news from Ford? (or GM for that matter?)The last one was probably when Alan Mulally was CEO. Were you even born back then?Fields was a total disaster, then they go hire this clown from Toyota's PR department, the current Ford CEO, Fart-ley or something.He claims to be an auto enthusiast too (unlike Mary Barra who is even worse, but of course always forgiven, as she is the proud owner of a set of female genitals.
  • Tassos I know some would want to own a collectible Mustang. (sure as hell not me. This crappy 'secretary's car' (that was exactly its intended buying demo) was as sophisticated (transl. : CRUDE) as the FLintstone's mobile. Solid Real Axle? Are you effing kidding me?There is a huge number of these around, so they are neither expensive nor valuable.WHen it came out, it was $2,000 or so new. A colleague bought a recent one with the stupid Ecoboost which also promised good fuel economy. He drives a hard bargain and spends time shopping and I remember he paid $37k ( the fool only bought domestic crap, but luckily he is good with his hands and can fix lots of stuff on them).He told me that the alleged fuel economy is obtained only if you drive it like a VERY old lady. WHich defeats the purpose, of course, you might as well buy a used Toyota Yaris (not even a Corolla).
  • MRF 95 T-Bird Back when the Corolla consisted of a wide range of body styles. This wagon, both four door and two door sedans, a shooting brake like three door hatch as well as a sports coupe hatchback. All of which were on the popular cars on the road where I resided.
  • Wjtinfwb Jeez... I've got 3 Ford's and have been a defender due to my overall good experiences but this is getting hard to defend. Thinking the product durability testing that used to take months to rack up 100k miles or more is being replaced with computer simulations that just aren't causing these real-world issues to pop up. More time at the proving ground please...
  • Wjtinfwb Looks like Mazda put more effort into sprucing up a moribund product than Chevy did with the soon to be euthanized '24 Camaro.