By on November 16, 2011

Vladimir Antonov, the Russian “financier” who was feted by the acolytes of the zombie Saab as the second (after Victor Muller) coming of the dear Jesus, had his bank taken away from him.

More than $392 million of assets of Antonov-controlled Snoras Bank may be unaccounted for, central bank Governor Vitas Vasiliauskas told Bloomberg. Snoras’s operations were halted, and a state administrator was appointed by the Lithuanian government after the bank ignored recommendations to reduce its credit risk.

As a precautionary measure, government and bank traded accusations of felonious conduct. Reports Reuters:

“The government and central bank said they had found a risk of insolvency and possible criminality. The bank meanwhile has accused the government of ‘robbery’.”

Just to be sure, Swedish Radio mentions that “Antonov lent a large sum to Victor Muller which allowed Spyker to buy Saab.”

For the record, Bloomberg mentions that Antonov was barred from investing in Saab by the European Investment Bank. Bloomberg also finds it necessary to mention that:

“The U.K.’s Financial Services Authority denied Snoras permission to operate in Britain because the bank’s executives withheld information, calling the tactic “an ongoing pattern of behavior by institutions controlled by Mr. Antonov” in a February 2009 statement.”

Speaking of banks and supposed saviors, money in China is getting tight. Taiwan’s  China Times reports  that Volvo buyer Geely has problems servicing the debt incurred during the highly leveraged buyout:

“Geely has reportedly started to contact private domestic and overseas equity funds, such as Carlyle and TPG, for fresh funding, in order to repay Goldman Sachs for high-yield bonds. Most of these private equity funds are cautious about the request, due to their concern over Geely’s ability to repay.”

The sudden tightness of funds does not bode well for a last ditch resuscitation of Saab.

The financial constrictions find Antonov’s former fanzine unimpressed. Here, the arrival of 1:43 Saab scale models makes headlines.  Correction: The Saabinistas woke up to the story, and fondly remember that “SNORAS was a big sponsor for the SaabsUnited Historic Rally Team last year.”



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22 Comments on “Saab’s Supposed Savior Antonov Debanked...”

  • avatar
    dvp cars

    …….the never ending twists and turns of the Saab story made for great Swedish soap opera… the rug gets pulled, Geely, crafty Geely, seems to have gotten their figures wrong with Volvo. The car manufacturing business is starting to look like a classic “value trap”…… matter how cheap a company looks, it’s still a case of investors catching javelins…..few are successful at the sport.

    • 0 avatar

      What are the lessons of SAAB’s demise? To me it is how a company with superior technology and a fine product was allowed to wither away for no obvious reason. My ’95 9000 Aero is the best car I have ever had. Same gas mileage as my 2010 Honda FIT…I could go on.

      • 0 avatar

        What are the lessons of SAAB’s demise?

        Morals of the story: In the car business, the small don’t survive, and low price/ low volume strategies don’t work.

        Saab needed to figure out a way to sell more cars, and at higher prices. They never did.

  • avatar

    These Saab stories are almost too good to be true – so much material to work with.

    It’ll be a sad day when we no longer have Saab to kick around, sort of how late-night comedians felt when Clinton and Bush finally left office.

  • avatar


    now that’s a true word for a change.
    I think we all would be happy if the SAAB story was to carry on, but certainly for different reasons.
    As for myself, I certainly wouldn’t object to a little SAAB-bashing, if only those cars were rolling off the line in Trollhättan again.

  • avatar
    Seán Moloney

    I’m sorry, but the way the authors of this site write about Saab is rather disgustingly biased and completely unprofessional. When I studied at university I was always told to present the facts and let the reader make up their own mind, you people don’t want us to make our own minds up, you have already decided that you will be the judge, jury and executioner.

    I fail to see the humanity in you people displaying such glee that in excess of 4,000 people could be out of a job almost overnight. I’m sorry that not everyone in the world (including myself) wants to drive a Toyota. I’m sorry that there are some of us that like driving a car that not many people own. And I am really sorry that you people have such closed minds that you can’t allow a small group of enthusiasts hold hope. Every post you people put on here about Saab you are not only derogatory towards the company, but the the community who meet over at Saab’s United. As I said, completely unprofessional.

    • 0 avatar

      I used to be very disappointed that Saab was going away. I thought this about two years ago. I’ve even had a 9000 Turbo that was the best car I’ve ever owned.

      Unfortunately, the business is obviously unsustainable, and this tortured, arduous death is unbecoming. None of these deals they’ve tried to make even made sense on the surface.

      If there were any positive news to report, I bet it would be reported. Unfortunately, there has not been a shred this whole time. Every effort to save this company has gone pretty much as Bertel has predicted, so that’s where my bets are placed. Hope does not resuscitate the dead.

      The world of cars is larger than Saab and Toyota. If you really, really want a car that not many others have, there are still Saabs left. Why not buy another one? It’s the only action that would even have any effect. Unfortunately Saabsunited does not seem to understand that they are the last people who want a new Saab- but they’d rather make Facebook posts hoping that GM will sabotage it’s own business interests to appease them, instead of actually supporting Saab with cash money.

      If I’d worked at Saab, I’d have left when I was no longer guaranteed a paycheck. Very bad that anyone will lose a job, but sometimes, businesses fail.

      • 0 avatar
        Seán Moloney

        Yes, sometime businesses do fail. And that is fine, and if Saab is to fail then I guess that would have to be fine as well. I’m not being unrealistic. There is a high chance that Saab will fail, as an enthusiast I would be upset, but I would move on. I just find the authors of this site rude as they are forcing their opinion rather then reporting the facts, I like being able to hold on to the last bit of hope I have.

        I know the automotive world is bigger then Saab and Toyota. Though for me it is much smaller then most. I refuse to own anything that is not European. In the past I have had Nissans, Hondas, Subarus and even the dreaded Toyota, and the quality is just not as good as my Saab, nor were they as reliable as my Saab. I find it sad that the automotive world has become stale and unimaginative. Why does every single Volkswagen have the same front end? And the same goes for Audi, and BMW. Is it really that hard to give a car a distinctive, individual look instead of cut and pasting the same design over and over again?

    • 0 avatar

      You just said what I said in the last post about Saab, only you worded it a whole lot better.

      The readers of this site come from all sorts of car-enthusiast backgrounds. The tone of these pieces is condescending to the small faction here that loves this small Swedish car manufacturer.

      • 0 avatar

        I would argue that condescension is the very least of what anyone can expect if they try to get into the car business without the ability to compete and win. I understand the emotional attachment to Saab… I myself really wish AMC had made it and that Ramblers were still available today. But I also understand that cars are not only a business, they are a particularly challenging business to be profitable in. The condescension towards Saab comes from the fact that Muller, his partners and above all the brand’s hard-core fans have seemingly zero awareness of what it takes to succeed (let alone survive) in this business. Belief that Saab is or has recently been viable as a business (whether or not it offers features or attributes that you as an individual appreciate) is what invites the condescension. It may not be polite, but it is honest, which is the mandate around here.

      • 0 avatar
        kid cassady

        “The financial constrictions find Antonov’s former fanzine unimpressed. Here, the arrival of 1:43 Saab scale models makes headlines.”

        This is not condescension in the name of journalistic honesty. This is mean-spirited for the sake of being mean-spirited.

      • 0 avatar


        …and above all the brand’s hard-core fans have seemingly zero awareness of what it takes to succeed (let alone survive) in this business.

        Why would fans of something need to know what it takes to succeed in a particular industry? I’m a fan of TTAC, but I have no idea what it takes to run a successful website beyond getting clicks.

        I’m not sure exactly what TTAC wants out of an independent(?) fan blog like SaabUnited. It isn’t directly their fault that Saab is in this situation and there really isn’t anything they can do about it now.

        Did you ever go on a Pontiac or Saturn forum when those brands were on death row? Saab enthusiasts are hardly unique in their hope that a miracle might save their brand.

    • 0 avatar

      Boo frickin Hoo.
      This site occasionally lives up to its name.
      Bertel, in particular, is able to offer some insight into the automotive industry and global politics that I generally find reliable, and that I don’t find from other sources.

      What I see in TTAC’s Saab coverage is not glee at the suffering of workers, but informed, independent coverage of a complex global issue.

      How could they be more professional?

      Everybody around here knows that the TTAC team expects Saab not to survive. If that bothers you, you don’t have to read the articles.

      Besides, there doesn’t appear to be much market space left for Saab, especially not when they try to charge MB/BMW/Audi prices for tweaked GM platforms and content. They could maybe compete with Acura, but they didn’t seem to want to play in that pool.

      Nobody around here discounts the contribution of Saab to automotive history and culture, including its role in the US over the decades, and we’re sad to see the demise of yet another once-unique marque after the loss of Oldsmobile, Saturn, Pontiac, AMC, Plymouth, etc., but wistful thinking isn’t going to save Saab. They let themselves get squeezed out.

  • avatar

    This could make a great movie1!

  • avatar

    Ed, I wouldn’t say TTAC’s coverage about Saab isn’t professional. In fact, some of us are aware you and Bertel have been subjected to all sorts of inappropriate invective and abuse by a minority of Saab fans upset about your coverage.

    Write me off as old school and out of touch, but I’m in the minority that value civility. I believe when TTAC sticks to the Saab facts, it is at its best, and makes its critics look their worst.

    The Saab story is a fascinating roller coaster and I look forward to reading about all the twists and turns every day.

    But not as much as “The Impala Hell Project”. Now Murilee, there’s a guy to turn to for positive outlook. Talk about making lemonade from LeMons.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, there’s nothing unprofessional about a nurse gleefully telling a cancer patient they’re going to die soon and that they’re ignorant of all the hurdles ahead of them .

  • avatar

    Saab have been dead in the water for years and is one of the reasons I stopped selling them in 2003. GM had absolutely no idea what to do with the brand and once they had worked out that they were never going to beat the Germans they lost interest. But they only started the decline. Muller has ruined the company with his ever increasingly desperate deals and cries of “the money’s coming, the money’s coming!” Its sad to see what could have been a genuine altenative to bland German grey dieselness descend into a international joke because of one mans stupid ego.

  • avatar

    Nice snipe at the end. The last time I checked, SaabsUnited was an enthusiast website free to post whatever they feel like just as TTAC is free to dig up and report all the dirt on Saab it cares too (unless it’s libelous). It’s not like they’re a website that purports to be all knowing of the truth and post a picture of Victor Muller under a headline about someone else.

  • avatar

    I could say a lot, but I won’t. I only say this:

    Any attempt to silence TTAC will fail.

    There have been many attempts. We are still around.

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