By on November 24, 2011


It has become a tradition at the „iconic” Saab: For the sixth month in a row, former carmaker Saab can’t make payroll. Saab employees did read the familiar note on their website today that salaries are “delayed.” Their head of HR, Johan Formgren, told them that sadly, he cannot “confirm any exact date when the salaries will be paid.” Saab spokesman Eric Geers told the media that he also does not know when wages will be paid. And who is to blame? Victor Muller? Fugitive Valdimir Antonov? All-around-whipping post GM?

No way. It’s the Chinese.

In a text message cited by Göteborg Expressen, Victor Muller writes:

“We wrote in a letter to the employees that we’re sorry, but we are not responsible here – it’s the Chinese. They have promised to ensure that there is money as part of reconstruction funding.”

So what now? Is there a danger that the re-org is cancelled and that Saab will finally go belly-up? Victor Muller sends another text message:

“Not if the Chinese pay.”

That’s a big if. The Chinese don’t like to lose face. They can get downright vindictive when that happens.

Meanwhile, Svenska Dagbladet says that the scandal surrounding Vladimir Antonov and his failed banks could have “consequences for Saab:”

“For example, what happens to the money Antonov has already pumped into the back door of Saab Automobile if the Lithuanian allegations prove to be right? What happens to Victor Muller, who after all is the company’s CEO? And last but not least: What will happen to Saab Automobile?”

That indeed is the big question. China’s Youngman and Pangda wanted to buy 100 percent of Saab. GM said and keeps saying: No way. Victor Muller wasn’t too unhappy about this, because he sees a continued role for himself in an arrangement where the Chinese own less. And just at this very moment, Wanted posters with Antonov’s picture are printed. Says the business site E24:

“The serious charges against Antonov won’t make GM yearn for a solution in which Victor Muller, backed by the Russian financier, is left as an owner. From the outset, General Motors had a negative attitude towards Vladimir Antonov.”

GM doesn’t want a solution with 100 percent Chinese ownership. E24 reckons GM probably won’t want a solution with Muller and allegedly laundered funds in the picture. Pretty dismal, no? No wonder no check is in the mail. No salaries, and off to the bankruptcy court it will be.

After a big gulp of Kool-Aid, the good folks at Saabsunited say that all will be fine, and they focus instead on the fact that someone bought a new Saab 9-5 at a dealer. This must have become such a rare occasion that it has become newsworthy.

Sweden’s Expressen is getting tired of them:

“Victor Muller’s partner in Saab – Russian financier Vladimir Antonov – is wanted for economic crimes after suspicion of bank robbery in the Baltics. Isn’t that enough to understand, even for the most naive Saabhugger, why Antonov was not allowed to buy Saab? I don’t want to put the duncecap on Antonov’s Swedish support group, but I expect a slightly more serious discussion of Saab’s future.”

Before the 4Chån wannabes descend on TTAC and scream “unprofessional condescension” and “don’t you have sympathy for the poor unpaid workers”, let me say just this:

Responsible for the well-being of the workforce is Victor Muller and his merry banksters. Also, I fail to get emotionally worked up for the plight of people who had been on a fully paid vacation since April. And who will be recipients of the generous Swedish unemployment benefits when Saab goes belly-up for good.  Not that I blame them for holding out: If someone would pay me the full monte for sitting at home and doing nothing, I would take it, and I wouldn’t look for another job where I would have to work for my money. However, there are millions of real jobless out there without benefits, with foreclosed homes, and food stamps – if they are lucky. Those deserve our sympathy.

As for for the harmless enthusiast site Saabsunited, for quite a while it functioned as the propaganda arm of Antonov. It had had an “Approve Antonov” flag on its banner and instigated a polyglot letter writing campaign to the Swedish government to DEMAND the approval of Antonov as a Saab shareholder. Now, there is a warrant out for his arrest. Saabsunited openly supports the flooding of GM’s Facebook page, something which will kill any sympathy for Saab’s cause as far as GM is concerned. Any if someone holds the keys to those workers keeping their employment, then it’s GM. Saabsunited deserves the duncecap after all.

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38 Comments on “Our Daily Saab: No Salaries (Blame The Chinese). And A Duncecap For Saabsunited...”

  • avatar

    The good folks at Saabsunited say that all will be fine, and they focus instead on the fact that someone bought a new Saab 9-5 at a dealer. This must have become such a rare occasion that it has become newsworthy.

    What a wonderful piece of unbiased, facts-honouring journalism. The what about the cars?

    • 0 avatar

      Ah, so they lied and he didn’t buy the Saab after all? In this case, sorry for not telling the truth.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m pretty sure that story was about buying a (slightly) used car (hard to tell since the model year isn’t given and it is entirely plausible that there are still last gen 9-5 never sold).

        Because buying a new Saab wouldn’t help the company or anything, better to just yell at others on the internet for not buying new Saabs.

      • 0 avatar

        The point of my comment, Mr. Schmitt, is that I find your summary of the article (“They focus on the fact that someone bought a new Saab 9-5 at a dealer”) grossly misleading, and conseqently your futher comment (“This must have become such a rare occasion that it has become newsworthy”) inappropriate. And, speaking in strict terms, the car was NOT new, but it was not my point.

      • 0 avatar

        You also failed to mention that European trailer hitches look like Euro-peens*.

        *In this case, take “Euro” to mean “Excitingly Stylized, with flowing curves and a sense of purpose-ness” and “peen” to mean peen.

      • 0 avatar

        Before this turns into another drumbeating by frustrated Saabhuggers:

        If we make a factual mistake, we correct what we write.

        How we write it, and what conclusions we draw, is solely our decision. Any attempts to influence these decisions did and will fail. To be honest, they will be counterproductive. We have been at the receiving end of several takedown requests, some by Mr. Wade himself, not for factual errors, but because we rubbed tender sensitivities the wrong way. We were at the receiving end of death threats, threats of visits by the Russian Mafia, and more. Nothing was taken down, and our reporting did not stop. The threats simply stopped some people from having further access to TTAC.

        As a long-standing rule, commentary on TTAC’s editorial policy should be directed to our contact form, not the comment section.

        Commenters who disregard this rule will find their access revoked without another warning.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t see a problem with Herr Schmitt’s writing. Keep up the good work i say.

        I also don’t see how buying a previous generation Saab is news, though it is a nice story and i wouldn’t mind owning that car myself.

  • avatar


  • avatar

    Bertel – This is an excellent piece.

    The Occupy Saabsters need to move on so they can form a new identity. Their Kool-Aid is too strong, and the character of the company they keep is too weak.

  • avatar

    Can we even call SAAB a car maker anymore? They haven’t made a car in more than 6 months.

    Of course, then this all would end. I am having way too much fun with this.

    • 0 avatar

      Bugatti didn’t make a car between 1963 and 1994 – that’s 372 months.

      There was another yawning decade between the EB110 and Veyron launch.

      Automakers come back from the dead all the time. Sometimes more successfully than others, but back nevertheless.

      That being said, whatever Saab was, they are no Bugatti.

  • avatar
    Paul W

    About the car: It’s an ’09 built in May and first taken into use on June 15th of the same year. It has had four previous owners (making the gentleman from Saabsunited number five of course, although he’s not the cars registered owner yet). Mileage: 10211 km/6345 miles. It’s been on sale at the dealership in Trollhättan since January 26th 2011. Asking price: 159 900 sek/23000 USD.

  • avatar

    The only sensitivities appear to be of the author. The comment was on topic regarding the factual accuracy of the content. Obviously, the content, style, and conclusions are yours to make as long as they are legal. However the needless and self aggrandizing recounting of unsubstantiated claims of moral valor are not sufficient to justify threatening to silence all who wish to disagree. This only hurts your colleagues at TTAC who do take the effort to be factual and unbiased.

  • avatar

    I live in Sweden and still hope there will be a solution for the brand. However, I mostly find the TTAC daily Saab a bit funny.

    This one is mainly OK when it comes to the responsibility for the wages.
    BUT, it is only the people who are producing the cars that has been paied at home. They have not been off 100% since there some thing to do, training e.t.c.
    The engineers are still working full time developing coming vehicles. However, no tooling can be started but CAD-data, line set up’s etc can be made and is a normal piece of the vehicle development. The ones that are working are also handling aftermarket, doing some external servicies as validation e.t.c.

    A lot of people has already quitted for new jobs and the ones that are left probably believes that there is a happy ending for the company.

    I would like to get some info about the great money you will get in Sweden as unemployed?? That is 20 years ago. You would get about 70% of your income and you will need to take any job you are offered, anywhere within the country.

    It is completely different since past but it is one of the reasons for why Sweden has one of the best economy in Europe right now.

    So, please keep to facts next time…

  • avatar

    Not sure I understand how the Chinese lose face. By being called out for not paying? By being blocked from acquiring controlling ownership (apparently not open to negotiation).

  • avatar

    Vladimir Antonov’s not a fugitive anymore. He’s just been arrested.

    • 0 avatar

      & the delusion over at SaabsUnited continues. One of their posters called rogie has commented about Antonovs arrest;

      “OK you have got me, I’m at a loss, what has this has to do with Saab?”

      Those guys are better at erasing history than the Gang Of Four.

  • avatar

    GM is right not to allow the transfer of technology to China. Right now with their JV they have a controlled method of what technology to pass on.

    But if SAAB becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of a Chinese company, GM loses it’s control of what technology is transferred. They are already treading on thin-ice with the JV, this must scare GM and I don’t’ blame them at all for blocking the sale.

  • avatar
    Seán Moloney

    Bertel, I’d be very interested to know what you drive. And your friend Edward for that matter, you two are the only two on here that post about Saab, in somewhat distasteful posts I must say, but none the less. What does the Anti-Saab drive? And please don’t say a Volkswagen because I was actually liking that new Passat Alltrack which could possibly be next car I aim for should Saab cease to exist.

  • avatar

    This repeating thread reminds me remake of “GM death watch” soap opera. But if original story was a tragedy this one looks more like comedy.

    “Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.” [Marx, 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonapatre, Chapter 1.]

  • avatar

    Life With Saab reports:

    “Today is the day when the last MoU between Swedish Automobile and Youngman and Pang Da will expire. Earlier this week we learned that Pang Da was hoping to finalize the deal within today. But still there has been no word from General Motors if it can accept the deal. All we have heard so far is that they stand by their first “NO”. Today local Trollhättan newspaper TTELA writes that Youngman and Pang Da on Wednesday was in a meeting with China’s top economic planning body, the National Development and Reform Commission. It doesn’t say what the issue at hand was, but in addition to the purchase of Saab, it would not be a big surprise if they also discussed how to help Saab pay the November wages to the employees.”

    I agree with a couple here that Saab afficionado’s may be naive or shortsighted, but there’s no reason to ridicule or gloat about what’s happening to Saab. As far as GM, it lost more money on the Saab brand than it did on closer-to-the-chest Saturn. Either GM sees a deal with the Chinese as an opportunity to make good on its Saab investments or GM thinks that a Saab sold is one Buick less on the road.

    • 0 avatar

      “there’s no reason to ridicule or gloat about what’s happening to Saab”

      Yes, there is.

      Saab’s products have been criticized for decades, ever since reviewers asked whether the new 9000 was 10 times better than the 900, and noted that its ignition key was now on the steering column. Saabs have long lost their distinctiveness, innovation, and value factor.

      The company’s leaders and masters who permitted this to happen deserve ridicule. Those fans who slavishly support such foolishnessness also deserve some ridicule, just as we ridicule celebrities who die of drug overdoses in spite of repeated warnings that they’ve gone too far with bad living.

      • 0 avatar

        I doubt anybody at Saab in Sweden signed off on the “technological break-throughs” of lame-belt V6s and clutch cables on those first JV 900s in 1994. GM did nothing but try to turn Saab into some kind of low-rent euro-Pontiac.

        Now that Buick is the defacto replacement Saab over here and many mfgs have turbos and four-cylinders and transverse front-drive, Saab deserves some vindication.

      • 0 avatar

        @fred diesel: “vindication”? Saab deserves only to earn customers based on the merits of its products, not its victimhood at the hands of GM or its own former greatness. Sorry, no sympathy here.

  • avatar

    Yesterday I entered a comment in Saabsdisunited which contained no
    Profanity, but it was robustly critical of GM. SU deleted my comment. I am finished with that piece of junk.

    • 0 avatar

      Yep me too. I made a comment about how unlikely it was that North Street Capital were a viable financial partner and I was banned too. The paranoia runs deep with them.

      • 0 avatar
        Seán Moloney

        Really? I see plenty of negative comments over there. And I’ve seen plenty of comments doubting NSC, Vladimir Antonov, Pang Da, Youngman and of course GM and even doubting the likelihood that Saab will survive. I’ve also seen tones of comments bashing Victor Muller. All those comments are still there…

      • 0 avatar

        As the pressure increases they become more desperate to control.

  • avatar

    We already were familiar with GM’s apprehension, now the latest reports indicate that NDRC has yet to be convinced too. NDRC decides who’s allowed to invest and who’s not.

  • avatar

    Tonight PangDa have said that the NRDC will not allow them to pay anymore money into SWAN until they have approved the ‘deal’ (whatever that turns out to be.)
    Guess the Chinese won’t be paying the wages this month after all. Where is Muller going to go now? Especially as he has finally admitted that Antonov put funding into Tenaci Capital to enable Muller to buy Saab in the first place. As both of Antonov’s banks have gone into bankruptcy today, I’m guessing the Lativian authorites are going to want take a very close look at that particular deal.

    • 0 avatar
      Seán Moloney

      Good luck to them trying to get anything out of Saab though. In the event of a bankruptcy there would be hardly anything to liquidate. Technology? Well most of it belongs to GM, all Saab has is the current 9-3 minus engines and the Phoenix platform. The factory/property, should Saab go bankrupt will automatically transfer Saab’s ownership of it’s 50% to Hemfosa who owns the other 50% (this was a clause written in the sale contract). The Saab brand name belongs to the Saab Group (Saab AB) and will revert back to them. You can’t liquidate the people, so what is there? It’d be like trying to get blood out of a rock.

  • avatar

    You really do have to admire the boys over at the Church Of The One True Saab. (I say boys because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a girls username.) Their love & faith for the product is incredible and their devotion in trying to keep the brand going so that it can rise again and destroy the evil VAG is commendable, as is the belief that Muller is the second coming but they do have one unfortunate problem.
    They think everyone loves the brand as much as they do. They don’t seem to realise that Saab is (or was) a business that needs to sell cars and make a profit. They just can’t see that Muller, Antonov, Mr Six-Pack, Mr Youngman & Mr PangDa don’t love Saab as much as they do. Those people are in it for the money, pure & simple.

    And it doesn’t matter how loud 1500 people on one site hope & pray against any rational reason, the general public don’t care anymore. They’ve gone off and bought German & they ain’t coming back. Forget how much money it would cost to start the production line again, can you imagine the advertising budget that would be needed to drag people back into the showroom and get Saab back to being a desirable brand?

    My own thoughts would be that it would cost as much to repair the damage done over the last two years in advertising the products they already have as it would to actually pop bodywork onto the PhoeniX platform. (By the way, who owns that now?) And lets not forget, the general public weren’t that bothered about the 9-5/9-3/9-4X before Muller took over anyway.

    Hopefully Lofalk will pull the plug on this insane charade on Monday and we can start to get ready for the wake.

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