Where to start? Let’s start with the money. The $96 million promised by China’s Youngman and badly needed by Saab are not here. They haven’t left China either. Not just because China is on vacation. Youngman claims they have not received what they were promised, and until that happens, no money will be sent. “If the conditions are not met, we cannot pay,” Rachel Pang, president of Youngman, said in an email to Dagens Industri. Welcome to China. Now wait what the Swedes have up their sleeves.
Yesterday, we reported that Saab was waiting for some $93 million to arrive from China. The matter has not changed. Now, people on the inside get the impression that yellow knight Youngman wants out. This morning, Swedens’s Dagens Industri cited an inside source that says that Youngman wants out, and another Chinese maker wants in. Yeah, sure.
At Saab, which is working (well, not really working) under court protection from creditors, the big question is: “Did the money come in?”
The money is the €70 million ($93 million) promised by the Chinese bus manufacturer Youngman as a bridge loan. Saab needs cash desperately. Court protection means no new loans. Cash is king. No cash has arrived from China. Saab is not the only party in Sweden that is waiting for answers from China. Sweden’s National Debt office is waiting for answers also. Let’s have a look.
According to the September sales report, Saab sold a grand total of 429 units in September in America, down 62 percent compared to September 2010. With 4,647 sold for the year, that’s about par for the course as far as the monthly run-rate goes.
Now how do the faithful at Saabsunited celebrate this achievement? Let’s have a look.
What looks like a Chinese-Japanese matter should cause considerable heartburn in Sweden and the Netherlands: The Chinese government has informed Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. that it will not approve the automaker’s application to set up a joint venture in China, says Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun. Let’s take a closer look.
A bloated management, run-away costs, declining market share, imploding volume, a sell-off of assets and investments, headquartered in Detroit – what is it? No, it’s none of the Detroit automakers. It is their former nemesis and current co-owner, the United Auto Workers.
“Two years after the wrenching restructuring of the U.S. auto industry and the bankruptcies that remade General Motors and Chrysler, the UAW is facing its own financial reckoning. America’s richest union has been living beyond its means and running down its savings, an analysis of its financial records shows. Unless King and other officials succeed with a turnaround plan still taking shape, the next financial crisis in Detroit may not be at one of the automakers but at the UAW itself.”
This is the beginning of a special report written by the best in the reporting business, by Deepa Seetharaman and her boss, Kevin Krolicki, Chief of the Detroit Bureau of Reuters, with the help of their team of combat reporters from the Detroit front-lines.
Writing these Saab stories is becoming as much fun as visiting a fading relative in a hospice: You have to do it, but you want to get it behind you, quickly. Today is the day a court in Sweden will decide whether it admits Saab’s appeal of a prior court decision that would have forced the Swedes into bankruptcy. In the meantime, Victor Muller came up with another plan.
That’s not us making the prediction. Stockholm News says that “Saab’s fate could be decided on Tuesday.” On Monday, the Court of Appeals will meet and will deliberate whether Saab will be allowed to appeal the District Court’s denial of a reconstruction.
Stockholm News does not expect a decision until Tuesday. But it predicts:
The white-collar unions Unionen and Ledarna filed bankruptcy petitions today against Saab, everybody from Associated Press to inside.saab reports. On the same day, Saab announced that it had licensed its PhoeniX architecture to China’s Youngman at firesale prices – a move that could possibly buy another month or two. But first things first:
As if Victor Muller doesn’t have enough problems. He has managed to upset Sweden’s state collection agency Kronofogden so much that they are threatening arrest. Muller claimed there is enough money to pay the employees, but if he does that, the state collection agency will get its hands on the money. The collection agency says that Muller has to hand over the cash or go to jail. This quote by Victor Muller sent Hans Ryberg, head of the enforcement agency in Uddevalla to the ceiling:
This was the headline many Saab aficionados were looking for (and we have the emails to prove it.) On Saab’s darkest day, we might as well put a smile on the faces of Saab’s most militant missionaries – even if the smile lasts only a few seconds.
Yesterday, Sweden’s Dagens Industri reported that Saab would seek court protection today. We did not report it, because honestly, we are tired of the story. On the other hand, there were signs that things are heading to the court: Saabsunited tried its hand again on amateur spin and wrote that bankruptcy, should it happen, wouldn’t be all that bad: “It does NOT mean that SAAB is in any way dead tomorrow!” Glad this is cleared up.
This morning, employees of Saab were woken from sleep (they’ve become used to sleeping in since April) and called for an all hands meeting at 12 noon. At the meeting, they heard:
If the Shanghai Daily isn’t hallucinating (their writing is pretty sober, if not sobering), and if their source is reliable (the source is Pang Qinghua, chairman of Pang Da, the yellow knight from China that was supposed to save Saab from the abyss,) then Saab’s goose is cooked.
Chairman Pang told the Shanghai Daily that “Pang Da Automobile Trade Co and Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co have not submitted an application to the Chinese government to inject much-needed funds in Saab, increasing fears that the Swedish carmaker may drive into bankruptcy due to a cash crunch.”
Why does that mean that the goose is good for eating? Because Saab says so.
“Frankfurt in September, a city full of car crazy people from all over Europe, but no Saab at the IAA. However, few will notice it. “ So far, so true. Saabsunited reports that Saab will NOT have a booth at the Frankfurt Auto Show. Which is a good thing, because the cost saved for a decent display at the IAA can easily cover a good part of the monthly payroll at Saab. Currently, there is no money for the payroll – which has turned into a bit of a tradition at the storied Swedish carmaker. If I’d have the money just for the hyperinflated hotel rooms for a whole crew, I could retire comfortably. It’s THAT expensive. However, Saab has not given up on Frankfurt. Which is a bad thing.
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