Muller: Vladimir Antonov financed Saab acquisition 100% (with correction)

UPDATE: I have received email from Victor Muller directly, stating that he has been misquoted by NRC Handelsblad.

He has provided the following clarification:

…..I said that Antonov lent me – read Tenaci capital BV – the 74M euro (so not dollars) required to pay for half of the first instalment (so 50% of 50M dollar was approx 18M Euro) and to refinance the 56M in loans Spyker had obtained from Antonov’s banks, which had to be refinanced as part of the restructuring which saw Antonov withdraw from Spyker. The second half of the first instalment, 25M dollars, was funded by Epcote, a investment company of Pieter Heerema. So of the purchase price of 74M dollar, 50M was paid on closing (23feb) and 24M dollar will be paid on July 15th.

My thanks to Victor Muller for providing this information and clearing the story up.

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In an extraordinarily frank interview with NRC-Handelsblad, Victor Muller has virtually disclosed that the GM/US government hand wringing over the sale of Saab was more or less an exercise for public display rather than any genuine concern.

You might recall that when GM and Spyker were in initial discussions about the sale of Saab, any potential deal was halted quite abruptly on December 18. The apparent reason was discomfort on the American side with Spyker’s part-owner and board chief, Vladimir Antonov.

In what must have been a rather humiliating exercise, Antonov gave up his shares in Spyker and his aspirations to be an official part of the Saab deal. And whilst that was happening, his character was being assassinated by anyone with a byline.

From this interview, it seems this was all an exercise in rearranging the deck chairs so that the initial appearance would be palatable to those involved in facilitating the sale:

A condition for General Motors in selling Saab to Spyker was that Antonov should sell his shares in Spyker. Is it true that he privately helped finance the acquisition?

“That’s correct. Antonov financed me 100 percent. He lent me the 74 million dollars cash we had to pay for the take-over. The Americans knew that. That’s why it made no sense. It was a pointless discussion, I found. He was unjustly associated with criminal money and laundering.

$50 million of that amount has been paid already. $25 million was paid on signing and another $25 million paid on closing the deal back in February.

The final instalment is due on July 15.

Previous disclosures about financing indicated that Antonov’s shares had been acquired by Muller’s own private company, Tenaci Capital BV. Spyker also secured $25million in finance from Heerema Holding Co (VM previously worked for Pieter Heerema). Tenaci was financed by debt providers who wished to stay anonymous and with whom Tenaci entered into non-disclosure agreements.

All this is fine and dandy. I’m not concerned by who’s providing the money. The deal got done and that’s all that matters to me. Saab survived.

What I find strange, however, is the positioning that was required in order to make someone comfortable with the deal for what’s turned out to be a pretty short period of time.

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It’s also nice to think that we’ve got the key financier behind the Saab deal driving for the Saabs United Historic Rally Team at the Midnight Sun rally in July 🙂

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The Handelsblad article also features some other good stuff, but it’s this financial angle that fascinated me the most.