This morning’s news on the Saab sale

Lots of fresh new quotes out there this morning on what is very much an emerging and changing situation with Saab.

One quote that you won’t find a source for unless you’re looking in my inbox (and what are you doing there, huh?!) is that the interested parties number more than what’s been reported so far. That’s from one of those unidentified sources familiar with the situation that the newspapers love to quote from so much.

It seems the reconstruction period and the imminent Saab 9-5 has a lot of people interested. What we want is the right one to come forward and win the deal – and quick.

Here’s a summary of the news:

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A day or so ago, some [respected] news services were reporting that there was no interest in Saab from anywhere. How things change:

Officials with General Motors Co.’s Saab unit said the brand has received serious expressions of interest from potential buyers since Tuesday’s collapse of a deal to sell the Swedish car maker to Koenigsegg Group AB. Saab Automobile AB officials are now racing to build a case for GM’s board of directors and its chief executive to keep Saab alive, a spokesman said.

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CJ from Merbanco has been quoted. The NY Times:

Merbanco remains interested but has not had any talks with GM since the Koenigsegg deal fell through, Merbanco Chief Executive Chris Johnston told Reuters. “We are interested, definitely,” Johnston told Reuters on Friday. “Are we interested in a six-month odyssey? Not really.” Johnston said he thinks Saab deserves to survive. “It’s a great brand and a terrific company. It’s got great management,” he said.

Saab’s management are going to be key, here. Don’t be discouraged by the lack of interest in a drawn out process. Read between the lines. If they do this, they’ll want to do it quickly, hit the ground running and get on with things.

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Swedish government executives are heading to Detroit ahead of next week’s GM board meeting.

A Swedish government delegation will travel to Detroit early next week to discuss Saab Automobile AB’s future with General Motors Co., an official said. State Secretary Joran Hagglund, the Swedish government’s main liaison to the auto industry, said Friday that Sweden was still prepared to act as Saab’s guarantor to loans from the European Investment Bank if required by the EIB. Hagglund himself will be part of the delegation to Detroit next week.

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Maud is typically political and barely practical.

When questioned what the government was doing now as time runs out for the beleaguered Trollhättan car marker, Olofsson said:

“Now it is in the hands of GM and it is they who should find a new buyer. It feels positive that GM has not given up hope of finding a new buyer,” she told TT.

When asked if the government had had any contact with potential buyers, Olofsson once again underlined that it is GM that is selling the firm, and not the government.

“But we are in contact with GM and try to keep informed. If they find a new buyer it will no doubt be time for a new EIB loan and loan guarantees,” she said.

Maybe it was the questions they asked.

Here’s the question I’d like asked:

If Saab has a buyer and GM want to sell but it may go past the December 31 deadline, will the Swedish government step in and provide a bridge to help get the deal done?

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Joran Hagglund is a bit more practical as he packs his bags for a Michigan vacation:

Hagglund, however, did not rule out all support for Saab — if it can find another private buyer.

He said the Swedish government would not own assets in the automotive industry. “But we can facilitate with loan guarantees and we also have this tool of a rescue loan with very hard conditions,” he said.

“We are willing to discuss that with any potential buyer for Saab.”

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Union chief Paul Akerlund has some thoughts on that ‘rescue loan with very hard conditions’. Remember, this is the same loan package that Jan-Ake Jonsson commented on yesterday.

Akerlund said a requirement for rescue loans to be paid back within six months is “completely unrealistic” and that the rules could be relaxed under European Union law in order to extend the repayment period.

Sweden has so far spent only 60 million kronor of the 28 billion-krona package, with the money provided to Powercell Sweden AB, in which Swedish truckmaker Volvo AB is the largest owner, to develop fuel-cell technology.

“What was the point of getting it approved by parliament if they weren’t going to use it?” said Social Democrat leader Mona Sahlin, whose three-party alliance would win power if an election was held today, according to polls. “Sweden is the country that has done the least in Europe.”

Good point, Mona.

Hopefully Saab’s new owner won’t need it. I’ve always taken the line that you work hard so you don’t need the government. That way, they keep their nose out of your business.

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