Bard Eker interview about Saab from Norway

The following interview was published in today’s Aftonposten in Norway.

There’s some interesting quotes from Bard Eker here, most notably the urgency with which they’re still acting.

And yes, he does have a way with words (the cow ref)

My thanks to Arild for sending it through……

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BATTLE AGAINST TIME

Bård Eker has secured Chinese money for his Saab acquisition. Now the guarantees from the Swedish state remain to be secured. But it is urgent.

It was a clearly happy and relieved Eker, who yesterday called Aftenposten. Koenigsegg Group is a big step closer to finalize the Saab-purchase, after it became known yesterday that the Chinese automaker Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co. (BAIC) has put up the money that was missing.

State guarantee

When the purchase agreement with General Motors (GM) was confirmed in August, two obstacles remained: Koenigsegg Group needed 2.5 billion Norwegian kroner more in equity – as well as state guarantees from the Swedish Riksgälden for a research and development loan from the European Investment Bank for 3.7 billion Norwegian kroner.

Beyond the fact that BAIC now becomes a minority owner in Koenigsegg Group, the details in the agreement are not known. To which extent GM has helped to resolve the equity issue is also unknown. But Eker is very happy with the solution.

– Have you overcome the first challenge now?

-Yes, yes, yes. This is certainly an important step. The next step is to get an appointment with Riksgälden.

– And they are sending positive signals?

-Such processes take a very long time. It does not help if we get a yes when the cow is dead, to put it one way. We are in a terrible hurry, and we see that there is less and less time. In the bureaucracy they are perhaps not used to progress as fast as we are trying to achieve. It is a challenge.

– When do you have to have a solution in place?

– It is impossible to say, everything is changing. This is a floating mechanism, when one is delayed at one point, the schedule for the next change. But we need a solution as soon as possible. We are talking hours and days and not weeks and months.

Minimal in Norway

Aftenposten is aware that Eker also has presented the Saab purchase for Norwegian investors. But he tones down the Norwegian hunt.

– The efforts we have done here is minimal. There are parties who have asked us to give a presentation, and we have done so. But we have not been very active. We have many stakeholders who have been in contact. But we are looking for a combination of industrial and financial partnerships, and for that reason there are not very many options in Norway, unfortunately, the Norwegian entrepreneur says.

The agreement with the Chinese will not only ensure money. Saab cars and development expertise will be a complement to BAIC own products – and will open the door for car sales in the world’s fastest growing market. Even Eker thinks that just that access is the most important part of the agreement with BAIC.

– Will the partnership lead to relocation of production to China?

– That’s not what we’re after. What we want is an increase in production. To be able to do business in the Chinese market, some of the production must be there.

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