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.
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.