Tax Saabotage: Muller And Saab Board (=Muller) Target Of Swedish Government, Paper Says

Despite Victor Muller’s assurances that he is innocent, that he has not been accused of any crime, and that Sweden’s Economic Crime Authority most likely only wants to invite him for a friendly chat, Sweden’s Göteborgs-Posten thinks it knows who is the target of the investigation: Victor Muller, and Saab’s board. In the end, Victor Muller was alone on board. Says the paper:

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Tax Saabotage: Swedish Economic Crime Authority To Question Muller

Former Saab Chairman Victor Muller “will be called in to answer questions related to a Swedish inquiry into alleged tax offenses at the bankrupt carmaker,” Sweden’s Economic Crime Authority told Reuters.

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Tax Saabotage: Victor Muller Named As Suspect

Muller and lawyer Geers in court – Both are suspects of tax evasion

As suspected, the Swedish Saab scandal over avoided taxes grows wider. Yesterday, it reached the failed takeover artist Victor Muller. “Muller prime suspect in Saab tangle,” headlines Swedens Svenska Dagbladet, The paper obtained court documents that say Muller is wanted for questioning.

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Tax Saabotage: Three Former Saab Execs Arrested, Victor Muller's Offices Searched

During better times:Kristina Geers and Victor Muller

Key members of the board of bankrupt carmaker Saab were arrested yesterday on suspicions of tax evasion. Former Saab General Counsel Kristina Geers, former CFO Karl-Gustav Lindstrom, and former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson spent the night in jail. After a serious grilling, the three were released today. At the same time, the offices of Spyker in Zeewolde, Netherlands, were searched by police at the request of Swedish authorities, Z24.NL reports.

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Our Daily Saab: Banking On A Chinese Bank, Not Bank Of China

Rumors that the Bank of China would be taking a role in the “rescue” of Saab turn out to have been something of a miscommunication. Saab explains the situation as it currently exists.

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Our Daily Saab: Muller Losing Faith, Antonov Going Down

A TTAC tipster sent us a Teknikens Värld interview with Saab’s long-suffering would-be rescuer, Victor Muller, in which the eternal Saabtimist seems ready to admit defeat. In essence, he admits that GM is unlikely to ever approve a plan involving Chinese firms, that the Chinese firms are throwing “money into a black hole” and that all the previous plans are off the table. Of course, Muller does seem to think that some kind of rescue may yet be possible, but he admits

If I doze off Saab would disappear in an instant

If Muller is losing faith, and doesn’t even have a hairbrained scenario to hype, it seems that the end may well be near. But then, the whole rescue of Saab is beginning to be eclipsed by questions about Muller’s erstwhile partner, Vladimir Antonov, who was recently bailed out of British jail, where he was being held on charges of embezzlement and document forgery. But first, to the Muller interview…

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Quote Of The Day "Bankruptcy Is No Option For Saab" Edition

Lyssna: Saabs vd, Victor Muller, om företagets situation

Whenever a CEO says “bankruptcy is not an option,” you know the game is up. After complaining in this Swedish Radio interview (in English) that his court-appointed administrator is trying to sell Saab off wholesale to the Chinese, Victor Muller trots out Churchillian and Nietszchian calls to arms… in fact, he does everything short of bursting into a spirited rendition of “I Will Survive.” Unfortunately, Muller’s credibility is long gone, and he doesn’t help himself by trying to portray Lofalk as some traitorous backstabber. With Saab months (years? decades?) into its death-flails, and the most recent “rescuer” turning out to be a non-player, is it any wonder Lofalk wants to hand over the mess to the only viable companies involved (especially when Muller calls North Street a “strong partner”)? Muller continues to labor under two basic delusions: first, that he can sell a majority share to the Chinese while keeping Saab an essentially Swedish (or at least European) company and second, that anyone cares whether Saab becomes a Chinese company. Sorry Victor, there’s just nothing left here to fight for…

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Victor Muller Plays Maharajah While Suppliers Go Belly-Up

Whenever we report about the machinations around Saab, the faithful remind us that there are real people affected. They are right. Some of the real people work for IAC for instance, one of Saab’s largest suppliers. Half of the production of its factory in Färgelanda went to Saab.IAC Sweden could be bankrupt in a few weeks because they don’t’ have the money to pay a 95 million kronor ($ 14.8 million) tax bill, Sweden’s Göteborg Posten reports.

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Saab: Antonov Considers EIB Lawsuit, While Questions Arise Over "Management Services" Money

SvD.se reports that would-be Saab rescuer Vladimir Antonov is considering legal action against the European Investment Bank and the Swedish Government, for keeping him out of an ownership stake at the failing Swedish automaker. Says Antonov

I have therefore decided to investigate the possibility of taking legal action, including but not limited to claims for damages, which may be of interest to various parties, including myself, the EIB, some officials at the EIB, the Swedish government and some government officials personally. By denying SWAN (Swedish Automobile) and Saab Automobile access to the funding that I offer, what these companies want and still desperately want, both the Bank and the Swedish government acted against all involved parties concerned, particularly against Saab and SWAN’s employees , suppliers, traders, lenders and shareholders

Antonov is reportedly investigating whether he can sue individual ministers of the Swedish government, while the ministers in question angrily deny that they are working against the interests of the Swedish auto industry. Meanwhile, far from calling for the overthrow of the government, the Swedish press is investigating Saab’s outlays for “management services” in recent years, and has found that CEO Victor Muller may be siphoning cash off to the tax haven of Curacao.

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Trollhttan Official Calls On Saab CEO To Step Down

SvD.se reports that Paul Akerlund, Saab’s former IF Metall (one of Sweden’s largest trade unions) representative and now Trollhättan Municipal Council Chairman, has called for the resignation of Saab CEO Victor Muller, saying

I do not think Victor Muller is a good president. He is an owner and a contractor, but he has not sufficient knowledge about how to manage production and development

And Akerlund is no city government busybody, but a longtime company insider who has been influential in Saab’s post-GM life. Having shepherded Saab through the challenges of the past two years, this is another grim sign that Saab is about to succumb to the realities that have dominated TTAC’s Saab coverage for years now. A commentary in SvD, titled “ Thank Muller for Painful Bankruptcy” sums up the somber mood in Sweden:

[Saab] has been on artificial respiration for nearly two years. It is down now, and from all indications we can only conclude that the whole process was a painfully protracted bankruptcy. And we have only one person to thank for it.

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Saab Recasts Itself As Auto Industry's Answer To Wal-Mart

Saab has started paying suppliers again (although production hasn’t restarted yet), and CEO Victor Muller is once again all popped-collar confidence as he dismisses the “speed bump” that he blames on negative publicity. But behind Mueller’s yacht-club breeziness and talk of “true Saabs,” major changes are afoot in Saab’s business model. Saab’s deal with Hawtai, the product of a desperate search for support in the midst of a liquidity crisis, has changed how Muller sees the global car business, and as a result he’s shopping what may be Saab’s last meaningful asset: Western dealerships. Muller explains his thinking to Automotive News [sub]

We laughed when the Japanese came. We laughed when the Koreans came. But we will not be laughing when the Chinese come. The Chinese are like a steamroller. It took 67 years to build up our dealer network. It is the biggest asset not on our asset sheet, and these guys buy into it for free. If they make the proper cars, can you image how much simpler it will be to push product through the distribution network that is already there? It is like a railway network that is already there.

Bertel and I have a running bet about whether the first actual Chinese import to the US (not a converted glider) will be a Chinese brand or one of the western brands… but it’s not much of a bet because neither of us can ever commit to picking one brand that seems most likely to bust America’s Chinese car cherry, and our “bets” change on a weekly basis. In any case, though, think it’s safe to say that neither of us saw Saab as playing much of a role in any of the scenarios we’ve discussed.

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Saab-Spyker Is A Hot Mess

Where to start with Saab-Spyker CEO Victor Muller’s plans for world domination? Why not with the craziest part? Despite declining sales, the boutique supercar arm of Saab-Spyker claims to be developing a “Super Sport Utility Vehicle” in the mold of the D12 Peking-To-Paris showcar. Autoinformatief.com caused quite a stir when it revealed images of both a clay model and a test mule for this allegedly production-bound (yes, again) piece of madness. Moreover, news that Spyker won’t be invited to use Audi engines in forthcoming models caused at least one popular car blog to run the headline “Spyker’s New Ferrari-Powered SUV.” Because apparently Spyker can’t decide if it wants to use an AMG engine or a “supercharged Ferrari V8.” Does this give you a taste of just how goofy things have become ’round Saab-Spyker way? Well, it gets worse.

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Saab-Spyker's Success Plan: New Cars, Cheaper Cars, And More Outlandish Cars

With Russian financiers offering up to $100m to back the new Saab-Spyker project, it’s not surprising that the internet is awash with glad tidings of new cars from the new Dutch-Swedish venture. On the Saab side, CEO Victor Muller and company are teasing analysts with news that Saab is “already working on plans” for a new compact car, tentatively named 9-1. Having quoted Muller as saying the 9-1 had a “better than average chance”of being built (whatever that means), Automotive News Europe [sub] filled in the blanks:

[The 9-1] would be needed to help achieve Saab’s stated goal of closing the gap with BMW and Audi. Saab debuted a concept for an entry-premium car at the 2008 Geneva auto show. ANE sister publication AutoWeek named the 9-X BioHybrid the best concept at that year’s event.

First of all, nice pimp there guys. Also, too bad the guy who led design on the 9-X BioHybrid (and most Saab design work of late) has gone to work for Renault. Especially considering the rumors are swirling that a deal already exists for GM to supply Opel Corsa components to Saab for the vehicle, which would theoretically debut in 2013. Even though the 9-1 is not part of the as-yet not completely funded $1b development program announced by Saab, meaning more money would have to be raised to go beyond Muller’s current in-house scribblings.
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Spyker Confirms Saab Sale Closure
We are delighted – Saab’s future is now secure. From today we will be concentrating all of our efforts into reviving Saab and transforming it int…
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Spyker Claims 2012 Profit Goal For Saab

Spyker has set the goal of turning a profit with its newly-purchased Saab division by 2012, reports Automotive News [sub]. That effort will be led by a total of three Saab products: the existing 9-3 (with a new version rumored for 2011), the forthcoming 9-5 sedan and, later next year, the GM-built Saab 9-4X Crossover. Other models, including a 9-1 compact are being hinted at, but Spyker acknowledges that such a product would require about a billion dollars more than Saab-Spyker currently has access to. Meanwhile, those three vehicles will have to generate 100k-125k annual sales in order to keep the business plan rolling along. Saab-Spyker honcho Victor Muller has an almost shockingly confident take on this possibility, telling Reuters:

It’s all about the restoration of the confidence in the company. Customers have been very reluctant to buy because of the uncertainty surrounding the brand… Saab has to do nothing but regain its existing and old customers because that in itself would be in enough to create a very strong business model..

Saab sold a total of 8,680 vehicles in the US over the course of 2009. Globally, the firm sold 39,903 units last year, down from 94,751 in 2008. Perhaps the challenge is a bit more difficult than Muller lets on.

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  • Dr Mindbender I like the look of the new little hot hatch GV they showed in Orange...it will be interesting to see if they start making larger hybrid drivetrains on their own or find a partner. I looked at Teslas in 2018...EVs don't meet my needs until solid state and prolific recharge in the open desert of SW USA is a reality. Even Porsche expanded their hybrid tech to the flagship, and Kia is all about aping Porsche, perhaps we'll see a T-hybrid in the Genesis lineup???? I always wondered when using a battery to pre-spin a turbocharger would actually work. In general tho, I find the Genesis design language to be quite awful, but I also think the Cayenne is a thing of magnificent beauty...so that balances out I guess. The focus on luxury over performance is where I think they go wrong...but again, Porsche...so I guess my lenses are quite tinted.
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  • Slavuta The question was, "does it make sense for Elon...?" I don't know why people jumped into conclusions in this comment section. My answer is this - if he does it, it makes sense to him. He knows better than any of us here. May be with his donations he can become an ambassador to an important state or secretary of energy, or chief of NASA. This is how America works. Donate $1m - ambassador to Poland, $3m - japan, $5M - Germany, etc. $20,000 could buy you Kenya or something
  • CanadaCraig We should be able to give comments a 'dislike' or 'thumbs down'. We're not 6 years old. I'm sure we cope if someone doesn't 'like' our comment.
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