Thoughts on an extraordinary day – Saab is sold!

I’ll keep this short as I’m running on fumes right now…..
JAJandVM.jpg
That picture, above, pretty much sums up everything that we’ve been looking forward to over the last month or so – or the last 12 months, really.
A new owner for Saab Automobile, and Jan-Ake Jonsson taking up his rightful place as leader of Saab operations.
That image is a screenshot of the press conference given by JAJ and VM, which finished a short time ago. I apologise for not getting a link up on the front page, but I think most people are pretty familiar with news and links showing up in comments now 🙂
I jumped in about 5 minutes into the press conference and even though my feed was a little broken up (thankyou, Australian infrastructure) it was a real heartwarming moment.
Victor Muller made a point of thanking all of the various parties involved with this deal, including Saab’s management team and employees, GM and the Swedish government. The part that moved me, however, was when he acknowledged the support of the enthusiast community and in particular, all the convoys that have been happening around the world.
Many people have been very kind to me in comments, but it was all of YOU who got out, printed signs, stood by your vehicles in the middle of winter and got the world to take notice of the support that’s there for the Saab brand.
This site, and the other Saab sites on the web, were happy to pass around the information, but it was the willingness of people like you to get out there and show your support in a tangible way that really made the difference.
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We’ve stuck the boots into various parties over the last 12 months. Sometimes with good reason and sometimes a little over the top, but always with a good heart.
The Swedish government copped a reasonable amount of our collective frustration, but as acknowledged by Victor Muller, they rose to the occasion and have agreed to provide loan guarantees for the EIB loan.
General Motors were on the receiving end of not only our frustration, but of our emails and other messages as well. I’m still not a fan of the company, but today, all you can do is acknowledge the fact that after some real doubts about their intentions, they agreed to sell Saab. That’s what we needed them to do.
At the end of it all, the parties that needed to get together, managed to do so.
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It never made any sense to me whatsoever that Saab should be closed down. Never.
The history. The philosophy. The future models. The plant. The management and staff. Those dedicated dealers. You could never look at all these factors and agree that Saab should be closed.
I’m happy for us as Saab fans that we’ve got a real shot at enjoying Saabs long into the future.
More than that, though, I’m happy that the people who fought so hard this year to ensure Saab’s survival have had their efforts vindicated.
Jan-Ake Jonsson and his management team took Saab through what I believe is the biggest corporate reconstruction in Sweden’s history. JAJ himself has been noted already by many people as a rock for this company – and rightly so.
Saab’s head Legal Counsel, Kristina Geers and her husband Eric, Saab’s PR guru. Both have probably had to completely re-learn their jobs in the last 12 months as the size and scope of their responsibilities grew dramatically. The rest of the PR and marketing team, including my own contacts Joe Oliver and Gunilla Gustavs, have had the heavy job of trying to answer the millions of questions that were fired their way. Imagine the loads on their shoulders.
Most of all, though, I’m just so incredibly happy for the people who design and build these fantastic automobiles. We’re all here because we’re Saab enthusiasts. It’s all about the cars and whilst these people will remain largely nameless and faceless to us as individuals, they’re the engine room of this company.
Personally speaking, I’ve visited Trollhattan twice now. I know that many of you reading this have been there many more times. I hope you share my affection for this beautiful small city. It’s out of this affection that my greatest happiness arises.
The knowledge that these good people have been through so much this last year and will now be rewarded for it brings the biggest smile to my face. I can’t wait to get back there.
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Saab wouldn’t be sold if there wasn’t a buyer. Thankfully there were a number of potential buyers out there and I reckon Saab have done extraordinarily well landing Spyker and Victor Muller as new owners.
I think it’s probably OK for me to reveal now that I’ve been in touch with Victor Muller, pretty much on a daily basis, for around the last three weeks. Victor was open to this regular contact because whilst I couldn’t divulge any specific information from that, the regular updates allowed me to write from an educated perspective in order to keep enthusiasts filled in with the correct perspective.
I’d heard good things about Victor from people on the ground in Sweden, but I have to say that my respect for the man has grown exponentially in the last few weeks. His intellect, management skills and energy are absolutely phenomenal and I’ve got no doubt whatsoever that Saab are in a very capable set of hands.
His negotiation and securing of this transaction in just 6 or 7 weeks since first showing interest is a testament to him and his team.
Of course, one of the factors that kept Saab in the spotlight as a marketable brand was the fact that there were a number of energetic bidders in the mix and we all owe them a debt of gratitude as well. Without them, it would have been easier for GM to cut Saab off.
I’m pretty sure that the guys from the Koenigsegg Group will always have a welcome mat laid out for them in Trollhattan. They did so much of the hard work on this deal when they were in line to buy the company last year. I know from personal correspondence that they still harbour a great deal of affection for Saab, too, and hopefully there will be some outlets for that in the future.
We also had a guy who became our home-team bidder: CJ and his Merbanco team from Wyoming, USA. His energy and willingness to participate here at SU was greatly appreciated by all the regulars here and the insights he provided to the process in interviews and comments were invaluable.
The late arrival of people of the profile of Genii and Bernie Ecclestone also helped Saab’s cause and their interest was appreciated, too.
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So Saab is sold.
We now have a new generation of vehicles to look forward to and new relationships between the company and its customers. We, as a community, have a responsibility of sorts, to do what we reasonably can to help ensure Saab’s survival and prosperity. Saab have an obligation, too, to design and build great Saab cars.
It’s going to be one heck of a ride.
OK, so it wasn’t so short after all…..

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