Tag: Chapter 11

By on October 28, 2011

On the last possible day to work out a deal before being forced into bankruptcy, the Victor Muller era has ended at Saab. The Swedish brand will now become a completely Chinese-owned company… if  all goes to plan. A press release explains

Swedish Automobile N.V. (Swan) announces that it entered into a memorandum of understanding with Pang Da and Youngman for the sale and purchase of 100% of the shares of Saab Automobile AB (Saab Automobile) and Saab Great Britain Ltd. (Saab GB) for a consideration of EUR 100 million…

…The administrator in Saab Automobile’s voluntary reorganisation, Mr. Guy Lofalk, has withdrawn his application to exit reorganisation. The MOU is valid until November 15 of this year, provided Saab Automobile stays in reorganisation.

But remember, this is Saab… and its fate rests in the hands of many, many people not named Victor Muller. Despite the air of finality that is surrounding some of the media coverage of this latest announcement, this is not a done deal. The Saab saga rolls on…

(Read More…)

By on October 23, 2011

With a Halloween deadline to get its restructuring back on track looming, Swedish Automobile has rejected an offer by Youngman and Pang Da to buy 100% of Saab’s shares. Moreover, the struggling Swedish brand has canceled the existing agreement with Youngman and Pang Da, its erstwhile would-be rescuers. A Saab presser notes:

Today, Swedish Automobile N.V. (Swan) announced that it has given notice of termination with immediate effect of the Subscription Agreement of July, 2011 entered into by Swan, Pang Da and Youngman.

Swan took this step in view of the fact that Pang Da and Youngman failed to confirm their commitment to the Subscription Agreement and the transactions on the agreed terms contemplated thereby as well as to explicit and binding agreements made on October 13, 2011 related to providing bridge funding to Saab Automobile AB (Saab Automobile) while in reorganization under Swedish law.

Pang Da and Youngman have presented Swan on October 19 and 22 with certain conditional offers for an alternative transaction for the purchase of 100 percent of the shares in Saab Automobile which are unacceptable to Swan. However, discussions between the parties are ongoing

(Read More…)

By on October 21, 2011

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…

By on October 13, 2011

Death with Dignity apparently does not exist in Victor Muller’s vocabulary, as Reuters reports that the CEO of Saab’s parent company will receive loans from prospective investor Youngman in order to ward off liquidation in Swedish bankruptcy court. Youngman has committed some $97m in bridge loan financing to the troubled Swedish automaker, of which Saab has received $15m so far and will receive more payments this week in order to pay salaries and other expenses. Saab spokeswoman Gunilla Gustavs explains

“We are putting bridge financing in place so we can fund business during the reorganisation — so we don’t incur new debt. We have running costs, such as electricity, that we need to take care of. There are a number of business-critical operations that need to be funded”

Saab’s salaries are currently guaranteed by the Swedish government as part of Saab’s bankruptcy protection, but that guarantee expires on October 21, just before October salaries are due. Missing that payment would likely have spelled the end of Saab, but with Youngman’s money arriving in dribs and drabs it seems that we may be documenting the firm’s undignified collapse for another month or so.

(Read More…)

By on August 31, 2011

Bloomberg [via the Financial Post] reports that “one of the five biggest European banks” is “close” to loaning Saab $157m  so that it may pay workers and suppliers, in order to move towards restarting production. According to DI.se, the deal is predicated on Saab securitizing the loan with shares of Saab Great Britain or other “alternative assets.” But apparently whatever the banks ask for, Saab will try to give, as Theodoor Gilissen Bankiers analyst Tom Muller explains

They need the money immediately. I hope they solve it this week, otherwise I think it’s over for Saab. It’s a very dire situation.

He’s not kidding…

(Read More…)

By on August 26, 2011

Swedish radio cites an unnamed source close to Saab as saying the troubled automaker was preparing to file for court-protected reorganization, as it struggles to pay workers and restart production. Under that scenario, Sweden would pay worker salaries while reorganization takes place. But at the company’s official mouthpiece, inside.saab.com, a press release refuses to deny or rule out that Saab has chosen this route. The release reads:

Swedish Automobile N.V. (Swan) is aware of certain reports in Swedish media related to a possible filing by Saab Automobile AB (Saab Automobile) for a voluntary reorganization under Swedish law.

Swan confirms its earlier announcements that it is in discussions with several parties to secure the short and medium term funding of Saab Automobile to restart and sustain production. In order to secure the continuity of Saab Automobile, Swan and Saab Automobile are evaluating all available options. Swan will update the market in case of new developments.

This non-denial might be read as a confirmation that Saab is considering filing for court protection, but hasn’t yet decided on that course of action. Meanwhile, Saab has delayed its latest financial report, and its online PR rep continues to blame the media for concluding that because Saab can’t sell cars, pay suppliers, restart production or even pay salaries on time it’s destined for bankruptcy court.

(Read More…)

By on August 24, 2011

Saab has already warned its workers that paychecks due tomorrow could be delayed until “committed” funds from investors arrive, but Bloomberg reports that the warning may not be enough. According to the report

Any delay in the August payments will prompt the unions immediately to start a process aimed at ensuring state coverage of wages in the event of the carmaker’s failure, officials from the IF Metall and Unionen labor groups said. The unions, after gaining employees’ backing, would first file payment requests with Saab. If salaries remain unpaid in seven days, the unions may then ask a district court to declare Saab bankrupt.

That could put Saab into bankruptcy in as little as two weeks. Saab’s long nightmare seems to be drawing to a close.
(Read More…)

By on August 22, 2011

Portland’s 82nd Avenue is one of those streets that exists in nearly every American city. Unofficially demarcating Portland proper (“the right side of the tracks”) from the extensive working-class suburbs that bleed into Gresham (“the wrong side of the tracks”), “Shady-Second” is home to a vast strip of wall-to-wall buy-here-pay-here lots, used-car hustlers, and small repair shops that line both sides of the road from Sandy Boulevard all the way down to Division. Like every other used-car strip in every other town in America, it’s where folks go when they need a car and don’t have much money to spend. Unlike most other low-cost car Meccas, however, 82nd Avenue is also home to Oregon’s last remaining Saab dealership. And it’s something of a symbol of the hell that Saab dealers are going through right now.
(Read More…)

By on August 19, 2011


I know I’ve said this several times before, but the end really is near for Saab. The WSJ [sub] reports that Sweden’s Debt Enforcement Agency began auditing Saab’s finances after several debts came due earlier this week, and found only 5.1 Kroner ($796,291) in its Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken account. That’s barely enough to cover the 5.06m Kroner in debts that came due this week alone… and Saab’s total outstanding debt is ten times that amount, around 50m Kroner. And as if the financial trouble weren’t dire enough, key stakeholders are abandoning Saab in embarrassment, like Benny Holmgren, one of Sweden’s largest car dealers. Holmgren tells SvD.se that his contract to sell Saabs has expired and that he won’t renew, explaining

“For me, it is important to be proud of the brands that we have in our halls. Saab does not deliver cars they promised, they do not pay wages to their employees, nor debts to their suppliers while the owners pick out big money. It does not feel right for a [my] car dealers.”

But among the hardcore Saab faithful, today is not a day of sorrowful resignation… but a day of totally overblown and unrealistic hope for their dying brand. Yes, really…
(Read More…)

By on August 18, 2011


With debt collectors closing in on all sides, Saab’s shaky PR took another hit today as the Swedish media repotred that members of the board of Swedish Automobile (SWAN), Saab’s parent company, received pay increases of some 633 percent over 2010. Thelocal.se reports that

New chairman of the board, Hans Hugenholtz, received a raise of 633 percent, from 147,150 kronor (about $23k) to 611,163 kronor (about $950k). Others also had their pay increased significantly.

Though the amounts are relatively small, and the dwindling ranks of unquestioning Saab supporters argue that the compensation is low compared to the Dutch average (SWAN is incorporated in The Netherlands), this is just the latest PR disaster to hit the struggling automaker. One Saab employee sums up the mood:

It feels like everyone is out to grab what they can get.

And no wonder they feel that way. Not only did worker paychecks arrive late, but Sweden’s national debt office has begun foreclosing on the first of its outstanding claims… and the initial amount (about $58k) could have been covered by the chairman’s pay increase alone. Sending the message that board compensation is more important than staying out of insolvency has to be some of the worst PR imaginable. Still, some will defend Saab no matter what…
(Read More…)

By on August 16, 2011

Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports that Saab has to pay some $620,000 today in order to keep Sweden’s Debt Enforcement Agency at bay. Should Saab fail to pay suppliers Kongsberg Automotive and Infotiv within the next 24 hours, Swedish Debt Enforcement Agency officials say

The collection process that may start tomorrow would include investigating Saab’s bank accounts and potentially also other assets.

Assets will be frozen while Saab’s worth is assessed, a move that would essentially end the existence of Saab as it currently (barely) exists. Saab spokesman Eric Geers says

We’re of course totally aware of this situation with the collection agency, but I can’t comment on what we’re going to do,

but other than pulling out from the Frankfurt auto show in order to focus funds on restarting production and selling another tranche of value-diluting shares, Saab hasn’t done much to respond to the latest crisis. And with another $795m due to suppliers in “about a week,” time is slipping away. Luckily for the True Believers, there’s still a shred of hope-against-hope to hang on to, as Saab’s PR man Steve Wade says something called “The Deal” is in the works.

(Read More…)

By on August 15, 2011

It’s been over a year since we’ve herd anything from the California EV startup Aptera, and the last we’d heard the firm was watering down its product and waiting for more funding. But apparently that’s not been panning out as Greencarreports.com hears that the firm is returning deposits due to delays in the production rollout. According to the firm

Our path to production has been longer than anticipated, which has complicated our reservation administration to the point that we have decided to return your deposit. … [Our credit-card processing system] is designed for transactions to be completed in a six-month window. Since most of Aptera’s deposits have been in reserve for more than six months, maintenance of the account has become problematic for our credit card processor and administratively cumbersome for Aptera.

Aptera says that existing depositors will be moved to a “new VIP database,” and

as our production date approaches, we will use the database to direct you to your local retailer so you can be among the first to own an Aptera vehicle.

But will anyone stick with a company that has lost its founders, made ill-advised product changes, has been overpromising since nearly the get-go and has already invited questions about its reservation escrow account? Methinks not so much. Thanks for the memories, Aptera!

By on August 11, 2011

Just three weeks after Saab narrowly avoided being pushed into bankruptcy by supplier SwePart, SvD.se reports that three other suppliers have now initiated the bankruptcy process by requesting that Sweden’s national debt bailiffs pursue their debts. One Spanish supplier is reported to be foreclosing on €2m ($2.8m in debt), while two of the rebelling German firms are said to be owed at least €5m each. And though Saab says it is meeting with the Spanish firm to try to hammer out a deal,  SvD reports that four of the 14 outstanding claims against Saab have run out of time. Lars Holmqvist, head of the European Association of Automotive Suppliers argues that, by paying some suppliers and not others, Saab is de facto bankrupt, and that a trustee should be brought in to pay suppliers in order of priority, rather than order of Saab’s necessity. Meanwhile, Saab CEO Victor Muller has been in Brazil and the US, trying to bring new investors on board, as  its Chinese funding won’t be approved for two-to-three months, if ever. Meanwhile, “taxes and fees” must be paid by Friday, August salaries are due in just two weeks, and Muller cut his latest money-raising trip short to reassure workers back in Trolhättan. But according to thelocal.se, even the most optimistic of union leaders hope Saab will have a new CEO soon. Do I hear the fat lady warming up her vocal cords?

By on July 28, 2011

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.

By on July 25, 2011


Over the weekend we told you Saab-watchers to “expect a run on the bankruptcy court in the coming days and weeks,” and according to Bloomberg the process has already begun. Christina Lindberg of the Swedish Debt Enforcement Agency tells the news service that eight suppliers have requested that their portion of the 104 debts registered with the agency be collected and that

We will start the collection process in a few days.

The good news? A previous request to place a Saab subsidiary in bankruptcy has been revoked as the supplier in question there was paid off. Now, however, with eight more debts going to collections (worth an undisclosed amount, we know that one debt alone is worth around $70m and estimates put the total at around $1b), the situation has become dire once again. The answer? Vladimir Antonov, of course! Thelocal.se reports that suppliers are pushing for the EIB to approve Antonov’s ownership stake, seeing the Russian as the only way out of the situation. And because the EIB will clearly never approve Antonov, another report that’s just breaking now says that Saab is seeking to “replace” the EIB loan in order to bring Antonov on board. The looming question: who on earth is going to lend this bleeding-out corpse of a company $350m? Does Antonov even have a billion to spare for his pet project? Needless to say, nobody has the faintest clue… they just know it has to happen. Yikes!

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