Eric Geers on Saab and the current GM crisis

I’d like to thank Eric Geers from Saab Sweden for taking some time out of what must be a very busy day – the day GM hand in their plans to the US government – to fill us in on what’s happening over there in Trollhattan.
Saabs United: Hej, Eric.
Eric Geers: Hej!
SU: Let’s get straight to it. What’s happening over there?
EG: Well…..what’s happening is that tonight (Swedish time) lots of news is expected from General Motors. Exactly what that’s going to be, we’re not sure. So we’re going to have to hold on for a little bit.
Of course there are all sorts of speculations, that it’s over, that we’re out or we’re not out. We don’t expect it to be anything as dramatic as that. The work we’re doing here in Sweden is working with this scenario….being an independent entity and setting ourselves up with a structure that will work for the long term. That’s our key focus.
SU: So regardless of what GM say today, have you still got some room to move in terms of timing, etc?
EG: Yeah. The negotiations will continue. Exactly when they’ll end in terms of deadlines, etc, I can’t say. We just know that we need to plan an operation that can stand alone and then we will try to move on with things. We have to work on how to finance the operation, and that’s the road ahead for Saab.
It’s also important to remember that people need to back Saab up here. It’s OK for some to write a whole doomsday scenario, saying that it’s over-and-out for Saab, but if it’s over-and-out for Saab then it’s the same for a lot of people, and for an important part of Sweden’s industry and identity. It’s not just Saab, there will be a lot of people effected.
SU: I was reading yesterday’s TTELA (the local paper in Trollhattan) and the reporters there said that both the government and GM are saying that the other party hasn’t completed it’s task. GM say the report is done and lodged with the government and the government say that they haven’t seen a proper report yet.
EG: These negotiations are at the highest level and there are a lot of stories here and there. When we have something final to say on that, we will. For sure. But at the moment the truth of where these discussions are situated is between the two parties, and I’m not one of those negotiators.
Hopefully they can get it done asap because this is obviously not a good situation. We have the economic crisis and we have depressed conditions in Sweden with only 175,000 car sales expected plus the instability with the parent company – this is not a situation that suggests to customers that they should buy a car. So clarity for everybody, for customers and employees and suppliers, this is of the utmost importance.
SU: You mentioned before that there’s no absolute deadline for a decision, that it will be ongoing. Do you expect that decision to come sooner or later?
EG: Sooner. And it’s essential, to give clarity to those people depending on the decision. We have our business plan and it’s going to be good for Saab, good for Sweden, so we need to put our shoulders behind it and make it happen. And we need the people to support it.