By on June 9, 2012

Even after its death, Saab is still good for some excitement. Today, the Wall Street Journal breathlessly reported that an “electric-vehicle consortium buys Saab assets.” When you click on the link in Google, you get your assets handed to you via a rude 404: Page not found. The same is happening with many sites that reported a sale of Saab’s assets to a company called National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), which is as Swedish as chopsticks.

What is behind those missing links? Who is the nice man who goes thumbs up next to China Communist Party Polit Bureau member Li Keqiang? And why has he allegedly just bought Saab?

Trollhättan’s newspaper TTELA reported yesterday (translation via The :Local) that “the sale of assets of bankrupt Swedish automaker Saab is complete.” The source was Trollhättan’s city manager Annika Wennerblom who told the Trollhättan newspaper that the deal is done. Hope springs eternal and makes a bad editor. Even worse, an unchecked story raced around the globe, leaving a string of 404s in its wake as editors hastily yanked the erroneous story.

Hours later, Trollhättan spokesman Peter Asp, called the news “Wennerblom’s own speculation that went awry.” He stated that “neither she, nor our local councilor Paul Akerlund, nor I have been informed that the administrators have completed their work.”

Now, NEVS spokesman Mikael Ostlund only wants to “confirm that NEVS is interested in buying Saab Automobile’s assets.” This is old hat. The allegedly Swedish company National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) had been rumored for a while as a bidder for the Saab assets that are on the block in a bankruptcy sale. What is more interesting is who is behind that freshly minted National Electric Vehicle Sweden.

It is two shadowy companies.

One company, often played into the foreground, is a  low profile Japanese investment company named “Sun Investment LLC.”

The other company is National Modern Energy Holdings. According to media reports, this company is registered in the British Virgin Islands, but is in turn owned by a Hong Kong based company named China Dragon Base Holdings.

“And behind it all stands the Swede Johan Kai Jiang,” writes TTELA, happily translated by our friends and fans at Saabsunited.

Here he is. Alleged Swede Kai Johan Jiang became famous for turning garbage into power. Literally.

Kai Johan Jiang was born in 1965 in China’s Shandong province. As Jiang Dalong, definitely not as a Kai Johan. Later, Jiang became a minor celebrity in China. His Beijing-based Dragon Power Group received an RMB 28 billion ($4.4 billion) loan from the Chinese state-owned enterprise China Construction Bank, which provided the capital for the National Bio Energy Company, a subsidiary of Dragon Power, to construct biomass plants across the country.

Later, Dragon Power was renamed to State Power Group, Ltd., and Kai Johan Jiang is the Chairman of that Chinese power company. State Power Group sounds confusingly similar to China’s energy moloch State Grid, and Jiang likes it that way. Writes China Daily:

“Chinese energy giant State Grid Corp, through its subsidiary National Bio Energy and China’s Dragon Power Group Ltd have invested in a Swedish bio-energy joint venture called NBE Sweden. “Our investment in cellulose-based ethanol production in Sweden is aimed at developing technology for biomass power generation projects in China,” said Kai Johan Jiang, chairman of Dragon Power Group and National Bio Energy Group Ltd China.”

You follow?

In this 2004 picture, Kai Johan Jiang, (right) explains the garbage to power process to Wu Bangguo, Chairman of the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress.

A year later, Kai Johan Jiang is seen with a Chinese government delegation led by Liu Qi, member of the CCCPC Polit Bureau, Secretary of the Party Committee of Beijing Municipality, touring a biomass power plant in Denmark.

In this 2010 picture, “top leaders Liu Qi, Liu Yandong and Guo Jinlong, etc. listen to Chairman Kai Johan Jiang’s report at the 13th China Beijing International High-Tech Exposition.“ We already met Liu Qi. Liu Yandong is a member of the Communist Party’s Politburo and State Councilor, Guo Jinlong is Beijing Deputy Party Secretary and mayor of Beijing.

The fact that Swede Kai Johan Jiang wasn’t always a Swede becomes obvious in a few seconds. The rest can be found through a few hours of googling and some phone calls. The true scandal is how many dewy-eyed Saab blogs keep polishing the Swedish charade. They stress that Kai Johan Jiang was “a senior adviser for Volvo,” they look the other way when the newly minted Swede appears on the side of Politbureau members. They write that the senior adviser worked for Volvo from “1993 through 2000.” They forget that the senior adviser’s career started at a youthful age of 28. They also forget that Kai Johan Jiang is China’s conduit into western energy infrastructure. They also overlook that the former Volvo adviser  Kai Johan Jiang is also “an economic adviser to the Shandong provincial government on policy matters.” That job however, is performed under his Chinese name Jiang Dalong.

Here, Kai Johan gives an interview to a Swedish TV station.

The keep-Saab-alive blogs also play up that Japanese venture capital company, possibly knowing that it is hard to get information on a Japanese company. Unless you are in Japan.

Even then, this one is a hard nut to crack. Simply because “Sun Investment LLC” does not exist, at least not as a Japanese corporation. Not surprisingly, because there is no LLC in Japan. There is, however, a company called Ippan Shadanhojin Taiyo Keizai No Kai, a.k.a. “Sun-based Economy Association.” It was founded last year in Tokyo with a Sanefumi Sammy Shoji as a partner. Shoji, who twitters as @Samdog45, is not a deep-pocketed financier. Shoji-san graduated in 2003 from the Tokyo University as a Master of Planetary Science, then he was hired out of school by Goldman Sachs. He left in 2009 in the wake of the Lehman shock that severely thinned the herd of bankers and patrons of Roppongi bars.  Shoji dabbled for two years in the “boutique clean technology/investment firm” by the name of Japan Core Partners, before helping to launch the “clean technology-focused venture capital firm” that is erroneously called Sun Investment LLC.

Art this point, a little excursion into the byzantine world of Chinese capitalism is in order. Companies in Hong Kong, the Virgin Islands and oddly enough Japan are favorite vehicles for investments in China. The bulk of “foreign” companies investing in China are companies registered in offshore tax havens, financed with recycled money from China. These companies also are a favorite stepping stone for Chinese companies that want to invest elsewhere without immediately rubbing it in that they are Chinese.

Because Caribbean-registered, and even Hong Kong based companies have the onus of fast money, smarter Chinese ventures like to use Japanese companies as alleged parents. Often, after a little scratching on the Japanese lacquer, the Chinese veneer comes through.

Ippan Shadanhojin Taiyo Keizai No Kai is the perfect vehicle for this. The office of the company is on the 6th floor of a fancy Tokyo building near the Japanese Emperor’s residence. One wrong step, and you land in the Emperor’s moat. More than 100 tenants are in this building. Taiyo Keizai No Kai  resides in the same office as Japan Core Partners. They share phone and fax. The address is also used as the secretariat of the Biomass Expo 2012. The same company occasionally organizes get-togethers with Chinese business interests.

The “Taiyo Keizai No Kai” can loosely be translated as “Sun Ecology Group”. An “Ippan Shadanhojin” is an intermediate company, halfway between profit and non-profit. (On its Facebook page, the sunny company bills itself as a non-profit, a perfect partner for Saab.) Typically, an “Ippan Shadanhojin” represents Cayman-based Special Purpose Vehicles in Japan. This is not a deep-pocketed investment company. It is a stand-in for someone else. Taiyo Keizai No Kai has as much history and experience as National Electric Vehicle Sweden, i.e. the history and experience of a toddler. Draw your own conclusions.

Back to our main man, the Swede from China. In an interview, Kai Johan Jiang remembered his days in poverty in rural Shandong province, and said that he does “not care that much for personal wealth.”

He is the perfect man to invest into Saab. As history shows, Saab is the ideal vehicle to destroy wealth.


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25 Comments on “This Swede (Second From Right) Allegedly Bought Saab...”

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    I visited the nearby SAAB dealer after stopping at the Wendy’s in front of it, the other day. The sign was still up but there were less than a half dozen SAABs on the lot. I wonder what happened to the other ones.

  • avatar
    Jack Ward

    And…. seriously, who cares about Saab any longer?

    • 0 avatar

      Agree. It’s like worrying what a C-list celebrity is up to. Although the missteps and arrogance of the people who think they can save it (to lose money another four decades) is somewhat amusing.

      • 0 avatar

        Think of this as a kind of Where-Are-They-Now article, like for a former rock star or sitcom actor who slipped out of the limelight. Until the assets are sold off and the factory and headquarters are repurposed, SAAB will continue its shadowy existence as a ghost flitting around in the ether. Considering its world record length, ham-actor death scene, a long drawn out sigh is to be expected.

  • avatar

    I’ll offer him a sandwich for SAAB.

    C’mon. It’s one of those overpriced Panera Bread sandwiches. It’s a generous offer.

  • avatar

    Many of the Faithful have already turned against NEVS. Of course, Tim Rokka, at SU, has been selling the virtues of this deal, but only from the standpoint of saving jobs, and the Saab name, neither of which will be saved by NEVS. Now, Youngman has again emerged from the muck, claiming to make a serious bid for all Saab assets, and the Faithful have begun to rally around this noted paragon of virtue. This story has too much Chinese intrigue, which dose not bode well for the honorable end that Saab deserves.

  • avatar

    Bertel, there is no one like you in automotive journalism.

  • avatar

    Yay seems like no matter what, short of Government action from Sweden the Chinese one way or another are going to get their hands on all of SAAB.

    • 0 avatar

      Well SAABs spare parts company that was put up as collateral for the Swedish government’s guaranty for the European Investment Bank’s loans to SAAB might be the part that they won’t get their hands on. Oh and the most sought after engineers has quit the company for Volvo Cars, Volvo Trucks, Engineering firms and so forth. So what’s actually left is a Car factory, some old platforms and some property in a part of Sweden that’s not especially attractive. Saab, the reputable aerospace and deference firm, might not like the brand and trademark ending up in china.

  • avatar

    …as someone who just sold an 06 Saab, to buy an 05 Saab, I care. Tbh, half the car has AC Delco written on it, so I’m not bothered about spares.

    But on a human level, to haver that many people thrown on the scrapheap is sad beyond belief. Trollhatten, and Saab, deserve better.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree. Which is why I always found it so strange that people who claimed (pretended?) to be Saab fans (e.g. the SaabsUnited crowd) *supported* Chinese ownership of Saab, which would inevitably lead to the end of Saab in Trollhättan as production and technology would eventually be moved to China, to the detriment of the Swedish workers.

      The logical reaction from people who genuinely did care about Saab and Trollhättan would have been to unequivocally *oppose* a Chinese takeover, but I don’t remember seeing any signs of that. So it’s evident that people like those involved in SaabsUnited don’t give a rat’s ass about Saab and Trollhättan, no matter what their public claims may be.

      • 0 avatar

        The “SaabsUnited crowd” just pooled their money ($30k+) to buy the last Saab ever made and put it in the Saab museum. You think they’re just pretending to be fans?

        • 0 avatar

          @saab_lurker: I don’t know if they’re pretending, to be honest. All I’m saying is that it doesn’t make sense for someone who is a genuine Saab fan to support a takeover that would mean the end of Saab in Trollhättan, which would be the inevitable consequence of a Chinese takeover of Saab, as I mentioned above.

          In my view, there has to be be a logical explanation for why ostensible Saab fans don’t seem to care about Saab’s survival in Trollhättan. Maybe the explanation is that they’re only pretending to be Saab fans, or maybe there’s another explanation. The only thing that’s certain is that it’s not a consistent position to want Saab in Trollhättan to survive and at the same time support a Chinese takeover of Saab.

    • 0 avatar

      I wish all those from SAAB the very best. I fear where this is going.

  • avatar

    Bravo, Bertel! That was more investigative journalism in one piece than in all of the SAAB deathwatch series combined.

  • avatar

    I don’t know if it’s because a lot of people aren’t from largely immigrant based countries or what but at least where I’m from a huge portion of the people I grew up with weren’t always Americans and they all consider themselves as American as anybody else. Why is it a problem if someone wasn’t always Swedish? Does being Swedish your whole life make you more qualified to purchase companies or something? It would appear that he’s been going by Johan for at least a few years so it’s not like he solely became Swedish to go buy Saab?

    Why is someone only “allegedly” Swedish if they change nationalities? This is like going around and making birther claims, since when is it ok to be suspicious of anybody who’s an immigrant?

    • 0 avatar

      Really, read it again and reflect on what the author is actually writing.
      Hint:It’s not that he’s an immigrant ’cause he isn’t, the guy doesn’t live in Sweden and he isn’t a Swedish citizen.

      • 0 avatar

        Except he does appear to at least partly live in Sweden and far as I can tell there’s no evidence that he doesn’t now have Swedish citizenship?

        His company has a rather sizable project in Sweden and nearby countries so he spends much of his time out there. From what I can tell his main R&D is now also done in Denmark after he purchased a dutch green energy company. Lots of wealthy Chinese people end up immigrating elsewhere because when you’re wealthy it’s insanely easy to immigrate by making large investments in the economy of whatever country you want to go to.

        Whether it’s the US:
        Or up until fairly recently (you can still do it it’s just harder) Canada:

        And it’s super popular amongst the Chinese wealthy:

        Most western countries all have similar programs where if you’re wealthy it’s very easy to obtain permanent residency and then citizenship, because getting someone that wealthy to come into your country is a big boost to your economy since they’re bringing their millions with them.

        The fact that this guy is pretty damned wealthy actually makes it much more likely that he’s already obtained Swedish citizenship and now lives in Sweden. It’s actually pretty damned likely since he also owns a power generating company in Sweden:

        And again, from what I can tell he’s been calling himself Johan for years now so my guess is that he’s not a fresh new immigrant or anything.

        If you can prove me wrong feel free to, I just don’t see any evidence that this guy isn’t really a Swedish citizen. Just because he has a lot of investments in China doesn’t mean that he’s still a Chinese citizen, wealthy Chinese people switch their citizenship because you’re actually fairly restricted in how you can use your money in China.

  • avatar

    Bertel, this is excellent investigative journalism! Keep it up!

  • avatar
    Paul W

    Thank you TTAC for digging deep when no one else does.

  • avatar

    “Saab – Special Purpose Vehicle” sounds like a winner ;-)

    Especially if it comes with “electrifying” performance. Seriously, having ties to people from the fastest growing car market in the world can be a good thing. Having Saab take the MG route must be a nightmare to Saab people. But I assume the Chinese learned from taking that route. Btw, seems Youngman (also Chinese) made a last-minute offer.

  • avatar

    Yesterday talked to chap in a McD parking lot, his car is a 91 SAAB.
    He opened the hood to check something, then I saw “Direct injection”
    Well that was 91, 21 yrs ago DI was already perfected.
    He had no issues except putting in a new Alterator, that will go on and old car.
    Now dont we hear about issues with DI that has sludge around the valves?
    How come is so hard to master with these DI on many newer cars?

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