By on January 20, 2012

Could Saab end up in Turkish hands? According to Bloomberg, Turkish private equity firm Brightwell Holdings will bid for the remnants of Saab, with a view to producing cars again.

Brightwell board member Zamier Ahmen told Bloomberg “We will make a bid very shortly, there’s no question,” but the company is still doing its due diligence. The aim appears to be a restart of production at Saab’s Swedish facilities, and a revival of Saab’s automobile lineup. Any deal must be approved by GM, the Swedish government and the European Investment Bank. As far as Islamic countries go (well, sort of – Turkey is officially a secular country), we’d take a new 9-5 over one of the Iranian Peugeot clones, but there will no doubt be many dissenting views in the comments.

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27 Comments on “Turkey’s Brightwell Holdings May Be Saab Suitor...”

  • avatar

    I think the idea of Saab is good, they need need somebody with the cash to spend to turn the ship around. Just look at Tata and RR.

    • 0 avatar

      JLR had already been turned-around by the time Tata bought it… This fact is often clouded by the fact that Ford was short on money in a difficult economic climate and this forced a sale (along with Alan’s change to the One Ford philosophy.)

  • avatar

    I saw a new 9-5 on the street last week. It’s a beautiful car.

  • avatar

    GM isn’t licensing its technology to any buyer, according to a statement made by its own spokesman, so don’t expect any new 9-5s or 9-4Xs as we know them. Youngman is also in the mix as a bidder. I suppose both suiters hope they can sell the 9-3 and continue to work on the PhoeniX in an aim to keep Saab alive. Not sure if GM consiers the 9-3 part of its IP worth protecting. Not sure why GM is taking this hard line position because it can restrict sales of its IP in China, where it seems to be the most concerned about competition. Why wouldn’t GM want to recoup additional costs through licensing of its IP?

    • 0 avatar

      GM is already in business in China with a partner who has the rights to their tech and products to sell in China. Saab selling themselves and GM’s designs to Youngman for pennies obviously undermines that which is why they blocked it.

      From what I’ve read Youngman wants to purchase what remains of Saab without the 9-4X and 9-5. They want to replace all the GM tech in the current 9-3 and restart with that model line to be sold in China. Saab can continue work on the next 9-3 under Youngman.

      Obviously, this plan has a bunch of holes in it. If Saab couldn’t succeed with a mostly fresh product lineup and if nobody bought them before they certainly aren’t going to now with just the 9-3. Dealers are abandoning the brand in droves (at least in North America). There is still a huge inventory out there of unsold vehicles. Youngman’s ownership (just like Spyker’s and GM’s) does nothing to solve the fundamental problems of the brand and their pricing that is tens of thousands too high and the cost of assembling cars in Sweden.

      If anything I anticipate either one of these buyers will just take the operation without the cars and ship everything to China or Turkey where labor costs are substantially less and build their own cars for their own markets. Similar to what happened with MG.

      • 0 avatar

        Well, Saab never really did have a chance to see what the new lineup could do, between the supplier payment issues and GM pulling the plug on making the 9-4x for them.

        Also, as for “huge inventory” last I heard there were 2600 cars unsold in the US as of the day that the warranties died.

        Mind you, I am hardly one of the Saab uberfaithful, but they really did not have much of a chance given the ridiculous politics and GM fairly obviously wanting them to die. GM got quite a deal actually, instead of being on the hook for potentially hundreds of millions to shutter Saab, they managed to make a few tens of millions selling it, and letting it die all by itself as a seperate company. Smart, really.

      • 0 avatar

        The new Saab lineup is great and GM invested a lot of money in making the 9-5 and 9-4X good vehicles, it truly shows. But no matter how nice the product it doesn’t do anything to fix Saab’s fundamental problem – they are asking too much for their cars. People won’t pay prestige German prices for Saabs when they could just get a prestige German car.

        If Saab could come up with great vehicles that they could sell profitably at Acura, Buick, Chrysler, Mercury prices they migbht not be in this situation today. I understand that the cost of being based in Sweden has much to do with that. The scraps being purchased by Youngman and putting the old 9-3 and new 9-3 into production won’t change anything about Saab’s fortunes if the pricing isn’t changed.

        Now that Saab’s are 20k+ off they are starting to move. 2600 vehicles for a brand that hardly sells any vehicles is a huge inventory, now that the liquidation is on and prices are hugely depressed they will come down to the point that people buy them.

      • 0 avatar

        To hear the faithful speak, it’s a piece of cake to put a new drivetrain in the car and that Youngman could do that in a few months. The faithful think that Youngman will be the winner.
        So, if Youngman removes GM from the car and I was a dealer I’d be concerned about:

        Whose engine? Transmissions? Alternators? AC Systems?
        What special tools for said engines, Transmissions, etc…?
        What updated repair manuals for the remaining dealers?
        What training for remaining techs at the remaining dealers to handle new systems in a existing platform?
        What about spare parts( GM era, Spyker era and ??? era )?
        What if anything will it cost to remain a dealer?
        Will the Saab name be part of the deal? Remember there are 2
        Saabs and the one that makes cars doesn’t own the name.

        If this comes to pass and I was a dealer, I want to know where the company stood before I’d recommit with the new owners.

      • 0 avatar

        Absolutely and most dealers aren’t waiting around anymore to find out.

  • avatar

    We’ll see if the Turks are as smart as the Chinese, and avoid this bad deal.

  • avatar

    Interestingly, Mr Muller seems to be siding now with Brightwell rather than Youngman, even going as far as to issue press releases praising the company. I’m sure with Ms Pang seemingly to suddenly find a few billion kroner down the back of the sofa which to be missing when she was dealing with Victor, the senior staff of that company are no longer on his Christmas list.

    However one does wonder, what Brightwell MIGHT have offered Mr Muller in return for his support?…

    • 0 avatar

      I hope it wasn’t much. What could Muller’s “support” possibly be worth to anybody after he burned so many bridges and piloted the Good Ship Saab onto the rocks?

      • 0 avatar

        Good ship SAAB has been on the rocks for most of my life.

        What really happened in the last few years is that the water receded enough to reveal this and the 50m long breech in the hull…

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    “we’d take a new 9-5 over one of the Iranian Peugeot clones”

    Hands down. But I doubt they will be able to produce a 9-5 at a price competitive with the Iranian Pug.

    At the right price, I’d buy a 9-3 Sportcombi. At the price they were charging here, no way.

  • avatar

    this plan is doomed to fail, as long as production is kept in Sweden.

    SAAB needs volume. if the cost base remains in Sweden, SAAB is forced to compete with BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Lexus, Infiniti and Jaguar in the retail segment. the past decade has shown that it cannot. it cannot make up for the retail side in fleet sales either, as the CO2 emissions are too high.

    what is left? cut the cost base by moving manufacturing to Eastern Europe. revive that engine sharing deal with BMW to get your hands on low emission, fleet friendly diesel engines.

    and lower prices, targeting the Citroen DS line, Renault Latitude, and Skoda Superb/VW Passat in Europe; Acura, Buick, and Hyundai Genesis in the US.

  • avatar

    GM will do everything they can to sink SAAB beneath the waves while appearing to be blameless.

    • 0 avatar

      Saab did it to themselves, and their competition beat them also. GM’s parenting skills – or lack of – have little to do with Saab’s demise.

      • 0 avatar

        And how do you figure this? Saab as a seperate entity ceased to exist eons ago. Saab was every bit as much a division of General Motors as Chevrolet or Buick, and had just as much say in it’s own destiny as they do. The orders and the money came from Detroit.

        GM was the one that made the decision to produce the 9-5 virtualy unchanged from 1997 to 2009. It was a very competitive car in 1997, but by 2009 it was a joke vs. the rest of its price class. It was GM that cheaped out on the ’03 9-3s interior and ditched the hatch that was a Saab signature, and then stalled the updates for ages. And the Trollblazer and Saabaru were 100% GM ideas, nobody in Trollhatten had the slightest interest in either one of those fiascos.

        Now, I will say that had GM not bought Saab they would have died 20 years ago, and that first decade of GM involvement was GREAT for Saab, they had really good product again for a while. But then in typical GM fashion they lost interest in the new shiny thing and left it to molder.

        For how to do it right you need only look a bit South in Sweden to Gottborg, and Fords handling of Volvo.

      • 0 avatar

        VCC had already been in a better position to succeed, due to several factors, by the time Ford bought them.

  • avatar

    Has anyone seen two SAAB concepts (a 3- and a 5-door) based on ‘flying vagina’ Subaru? Pictures were at the end of that PDF, published in anticipation of last Friday auction.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, saw them in the metal last summer. MUCH better than the Trollblazer, and far more appropriate to the brand.

      There was a Trollblazer in the museum too – with no signs on it to explain what it was, sort of pushed off in a dark corner under the ramp. :-) Was that in the catalog, I looked though it, but not closely.

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