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Summing up ‘the Antonov saga’

March 11, 2011 in Saabology

It feels a lot calmer around here today than what it did at the same time yesterday.

We got what I believe is a pretty good summation of things from Oddjob, in comments, which I’ll share in a minute. But first, let’s review what happened.

Di.se and DN.se ran stories on the web news services based on conversations with Vladimir Antonov at the Geneva Motor Show. These stories concentrated on some pretty scary statements – things like “Saab could go bankrupt within five days” and “Antonov does not believe in Saab’s business”.

Given that Antonov is (right or wrong) seen in Sweden as the money behind this deal, these statements obviously carried a fair amount of weight and caused no small amount of panic in certain circles, including here at SU.

Later in the day, some fuller interviews with Antonov gave us some more perspective into the stories:

  • Whilst there would be severe problems if the EIB did call in Saab’s loan, Antonov doesn’t foresee this happening.
  • He would like to invest in Saab’s business now, but hasn’t even been able to get an appointment with the EIB to talk about it.
  • From The Local: In the agreement (between Saab, the EIB and the Swedish state), just as in any other major loan agreement, there is a ‘change of control’ clause, which means that the loan provider must approve all major ownership changes.

I think that final point is the one that Antonov is trying to address. They need to have that meeting, make that application NOW before there’s any inference of trouble for Saab. He wants in.

  • For their part, Spyker Cars NV issued a press release standing by their sales forecast for Saab.
  • “The views expressed by Antonov are solely his and do not in any way represent the views of Spyker Cars,”

——

I think Oddjob summed it all up pretty well in comments:

…the whole story is aimed to put pressure on the Swedish Government to move their a** acting against EIB for Antonovs (and Saabs) case.

It also signals that Antonov is eager to start the investment NOW.

The timing for this news may not be right for Saab right now, when there’s so much good news with Geneva etc.

From Antonovs view the timing to bring out this news is urgent. it is only possible to send this message while Saab sales are still low and the future is disputable. If Saab sales where brilliant there would be less threat about the businessm case.

It also signals the eagerness of Antonov to invest in Saab. Not only the cash-flow money but also the necessary payment to realise the 9-1/9-2. He wants it to happen now.And that’s really good news!

If Antonov takes over the EIB loanes as he’s said he intend todo, there will be a greater freedom for Saab to use the investment as they need and there will be less bureucracy tied to it. Right now every Euro from EiB are tied to environmental automotive issues and have to be declared and checked by them,causing lots of restrictions and extra workload at Saab.

——

RedJ covered an interview Antonov gave to the Russian news service Gazeta, where it feels like he is much closer to owning the company than what we would believe.

That’s an article that’s definitely worth reading. Some key points:

  • Production possibilities in Kaliningrad and China in the future
  • Saabs to be sold in Russia by a distributor named Armand
  • GM didn’t really want to sell Saab and would have found it easier to close it down
  • He believes Saab will reach profitability ‘quite soon’ and will make healthy profits around 2016

It’s a very interesting read and the context in which he speaks is not that of a potential investor. It sounds like he’s right in the thick of it.

——

I’m still left wondering why the events of yesterday had to happen.

I think I understand what Antonov wanted to do, but I just wonder if he’d say the same things again, knowing the way it was reported in the Swedish press. They were very negative indeed, and the sentiments spread in varying degrees to global news services like Reuters and Bloomberg, as well as major automotive sites like Autoblog.

Antonov is red hot for Saab. I saw it in his eyes when I met him last year.

Yesterday, in my post on this site, I asked “Why”. Today, I think we understand.

32 responses to Summing up ‘the Antonov saga’

  1. Dear SAAB fans! I’m very glad that at the end you all (i hope so) understand that only one thing i’d like to do is to be an official investor and partner of this brilliant brand.
    With great respect to all SAAB community! VA

    Vladimir, thanks for dropping in. That’s the way we’ve always felt about your role in the Saab story, and I hope it’s a role that can become official, sooner rather than later. – SW

    • Dear Vladimir,
      thank you for comments.
      I hope in the future you keep the direct connection to the Saab community.

      Good luck,

      RedJ

    • Dear Vladimir,
      I have been interviewed by media on many occasions and if they want they can more or less take quotations out of context to construct a message that they would like to see.
      I guess if they would have taken other parts of the interview the headline could have been:
      “Antonov believes strongly in Saabs future and that further investment now would be very helpful for future profitability”
      Isn’t that what you tried to say?

      Keep on Saabin’! / TL

  2. Very much appreciate the wrap up and it’s calming affect on the story. Seeing that most major news outlets across the world wait for your opinion and guidance on Saab, I’m actually hoping that you are available in the future for Tim in these moments. This story needs to be hosed down quite a bit so as little damage is done, hindsight does clear out the wreckage quite clearly though. I’m sure there’s more happening under the surface but the analysis seems dead on and from the beginning VA’s motivations seemed quite transparent. Hopefully this tsunami of false information slows as news of real tsunamis spread. Speaking of which, prayers and condolences to all those affected by the earthquake and tsunamis, be safe.

  3. Read todays Dagens Industri and you find out that this is not over jet.

  4. Dear Odd i cant read in swedish unfortunately:)
    And better way to communicate is a Facebook:)

    • VA, I hope you realize the damage that can be caused by providing statements and interviews past Saab management (VM and JÅJ). Things that happened yesterday can literally destroy a company that is in rebuilding phase not only on the product side but customer confidence side as well.
      The cars are great (and getting better all the time) but any doubt that’s cast over the viability of the company will nullify any efforts made by the whole Saab organization that’s working EXTREMELY hard at the moment. There is absolutely no room for errors or games when it comes to SAAB. There must be an united (SU) front if this thing is going to fly.

      • I agree with RS that any contact with Swedish press has proven to be totally destructive. It’s amazing to see that the only quality shown is the ability to completly pull a story out of context. Making a headline that doesn’t cover the article, but is just a suggestion, is something pulp-magazines do.

    • I think it is very good that you become more visible in media and that focus is now on you wanting to join in as an investor instead of old, false rumours. The short term effect of such dramatic statements could be bad, though.

    • Just be careful with those Swedish journalists. ;-)

      (Only here at SU the top men like VA, VM and others will drop in for a comment or two. Absolutely amazing! )

    • @ vladimir ok, what’s your facebookaccount, can’t find it under your name

  5. I think that as a whole, damage is quite minimal because at the same time awareness of the brand grows. Time to put focus towards 9-4X.

  6. @VM – thanks for pointing this out.

  7. Here is something I have been thinking about.

    Imagine that SAAB is planning to list itself at the Stockholm stock exchange…. imagine people are willing to invest in it, after good news at Geneva and increased sales in Mars.

    SAAB gets partly owned by stock owners and get capital from them.

    Who would have an interest in such a thing not happening?

    It is just a theory I had.

  8. VA – thank you for your interest in Saab and willingness to stand behind this great marque. Thanks, also, for appearing here on SU. I believe it means a lot to the folks here. I’ve always believed that your support of Saab is welcome. But be careful of reporters. Exercise utter caution when speaking to them. They did you no favors before and will do no favors for you now. Just a friendly suggestion.

  9. My only concern is this: If the current owners of Saab welcome an additional financially strong owner, then how hard can it be to make an appointment with the Swedish national debt office and EIB?
    According to the Swedish national debt office they have not be contacted regarding this issue yet.

    I welcome more money into Saab so that the bankrupcy scare can be dealt with once and for all.

  10. Welcome Vladimir Antonov! Great that you decided to participate here at SaabsUnited.

    You are maybe wondering about what the Swedish press has done out of your interview with them. Even for many of us here at SaabsUnited it is sometimes hard to understand the anti-Saab approach and unethical behaviour of the Swedish press.

    I understand that your intention simply is to invest in Saab and to help re-establish the brand which we all know has a lot of potential. Many of us here at SaabsUnited appreciate your engagement and are looking forward to your involvement in Saab. Best luck in your efforts!

  11. Thanks for your great summary Swade, and very nice to see Mr. Antonov posting a response here! :)

  12. Haha! Hello there Mr Russian big-shot, hope you’re doing alright! ;)
    I’ve actually created a Facebook page for your cause, all connected to you as a man of business.

    We believe in your intentions for both Spyker Cars and Saab Automobiles, brands that both need all the help they can possibly get, good job!

    Griffin greetings from the land in the north! :)

  13. See this is what makes SU so special and the unique relationship is has with those involved with a company at much higher levels. I couldn’t imagine Sergio Marchionne making a comment on a FIAT blog or forum. Mr Antonov thank you for your words today and I apologise for taring you with the ‘Bob Lutz’ stick yesterday.

    I fear that you have again been victim of how dishonourable the press can be at times. I really believe you were deliberately fed questions so your answers could later be construed to mean something else.

    I think it would make a very insightful read, if you had an interview with Saabsunited.

  14. Dear Mr.Antonov,
    thanks for your response on SaabsUnited! Regards, Mlan

  15. The press are dependant on selling and creating bad headlines- Saab has been a victim of this for some time now….

    Only time, effort and enthusiasm will change the press and its doomsday outlook

    Good luck Saab – you have a real shot to be something very different in the automotive world !

  16. That’s all pretty ridiculous. How many companies would “go bancrupt within five days” when their banks asked their loans back? 80%? Our entire economy is based on loans from banks. Actually, a bit scary, as quite a number of entrepreneurs had to learn in the recent financial crisis.

  17. VA. Thanks for responding to SU. I, as many hear, hope you soon will officially join Saab.

  18. Nice of you to drop by Mr. Antonov! This is one of the things that makes this site and and the Saab community great! The cars are built to communicate at all levels with its owner/driver and the feeling is growing stronger and stronger that the company also is communicating rather openly via social media on all levels with its customers and investors…this must be the future: passionate entrepreneurship with great sensible products right in the centre and customers and investors gather around sharing thoughts and feelings!

  19. Given that VA is so eager to invest in SAAB. I would be really interested in seeing a opll on the site for who actually has some of their hard earned cash invested in Spyker currently, and who intends to soon and who wouldn’t touch it.

    I for one am hoping that my investment turns into the price of a new 0-3 in the next year and half (fingers crossed)

    How many others are invested in Spyker here?

  20. Hello Vladimir! Thanks for saving Saab! Stepping down from Spyker was an incredible gesture, I can´t explain how happy I am that Saab is beeing run by car and race-enthusiasts! Be careful with DI, SVD and DN, thay are scavengers, the car-magazines and the west-coast based media are more likely to treat you fair.

    Again, thank you!

  21. Mr. Antonow, you are very welcome, if you invest into Saab. There are many projects to follow up. But: To do so, it is not necessary to play elephant in the porcellan shop. Behind the scene is more elegant and less harmful for your investments.

  22. Mr Antonov would like to put money into Saab. So why is the EIB all uptight about allowing him to do so? If Saab were a German company he would have been ‘in’ ages ago. Its kind of annoying that it seems Germany and France dictate to the rest of Europe like they do.

    Having said that we have to be careful what is said to the media as they can ‘turn it around’ and use things that are said against Saab. Remember all the ‘love’ shown at Geneva? Id hate to think the lovefest is over already.

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