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Bids for Saab are in – time for a “Who’s who”

January 8, 2010 in Editorial

UPDATED – to add in Hakan Samuelsson and Jan Nygren
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Ok, so the bids are in and we have four confirmed here at SU central. There may be more, but these are the ones we know of.
So what’s with each of them and are there any suprises?
Spyker
Spyker have worked tirelessly since their interest became know early in December. This is their third bid at Saab and I know for a fact that they worked literally up until the last minutes before the deadline to make sure that every “i” was dotted and every “t” crossed.
There’s not much we don’t already know about Spyker now. We know that they plan to follow Koenigsegg’s business plan, and possibly extend it. We know that they plan to retain the Saab dealer network and possibly use some of it to increase Spyker’s market presence as well. We know that they plan to share some technologies in a way that benefit both brands.
Victor Muller’s dedication to this task has been very encouraging for Saab fans and his speech at the Automotive News Global Congress in Detroit next week should be very interesting to hear (esp if GM knock back all Saab bids and close Saab down).
Merbanco
Merbanco’s interet in Saab has also been incredibly encouraging. They were one of the initial parties interested in Saab, so they’ve been at this for the larger part of 2009. They were one of the finalist bidders in Zurich when Koenigsegg won the day.
Their tenacity is outstanding and they should be well regarded by Saab fans for keeping the interest in the brand alive.
Merbanco’s CEO, Christopher Johnston was recently on record here saying that their bid (or anyone’s) would be difficult without guaranteed support from the Swedish Government with respect to the EIB loan. Merbanco’s bid includes a commitment to carry Saab’s cost whilst the EIB loan is finalised, but those Swedish guarantees would be needed.
This is a sticking point that may make it hard for Merbanco to get over the line.
Genii – Bernie Ecclestone
A last minute bidder or a player all along? Well, it’s a little bit of both.
The Swedish co-ordinator of this bid is a man names Lars Carlström. Those who have been here for some time know that I’ve previously referred to a Swedish consortium that I named “Sason”. Carlström was the co-ordinator of that group.
Sason were to bid jointly with Merbanco, but circumstances changed with some of the Sason members leaving the group. Carlström must be a very resourceful man, however, as his attraction of Genii Capital and Bernie Ecclestone makes this group a powerful player.
It is unknown how big a part Bernie Ecclestone is playing in this group. Is it a jointventure with them as equal partners or does Bernie hold 5% of this effort so they can add his name to the list?
Carlström, through his “Sason” group, has been a potential bidder for Saab right since the beginning of this process, so logic would dictate that he should know the background and technical information. Genii and Ecclestone would be relying on his knowledge, however, as there have been no prior reports of their interest in Saab.
Do they have the money? Most certainly.
Do they have the industrial experience for a car manufacturer? We’ll see what GM thinks.
Oh, and I called the Swedish group “Sason” because if successful, the group name would have been “Catherina”. Saab historians will get the connection.
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AWMS
AWMS Acquisitions Inc.is based in Florida and is led by a man named Al Weintraub.
I know nothing of this operation or of Mr Weintraub in particular, so I can’t give any background or make any comment.
My sources in various places indicate to me that this bid is not one that will be looked at favourably.
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Samuelsson – Nygren
I have received no confirmation about this bid personally, but TTELA are reporting that former MAN (truckmaker) chief executive, Hakan Samuelsson is leading a bid along with former Swedish politician and former Chief exec of Saab AB, Jan Nygren.
I can confirm that these gentlemen, to my knowledge, were part of the second iteration of the “Catherina” group (which I’ve referred to here as “Sason” for some weeks now).
TTELA state that their business case for Saab includes an estimated production of 45,000 to 50,000 vehicles per year.
IMHO that seems extraordinarily low, but something may be lost in translation.

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