Robert Collin Calls Out Reinfeldt

Friend to SaabsUnited Robert Colin of Aftonbladet has written a very to the point and worthwhile summary of how the politicians at the top of the Swedish government reacted to the news of Saab’s troubles yesterday. Usually I leave the Swedish media or government rants to Tim as I’m American, but I can plainly see all the way from over here just how poorly they’ve handled this situation. I love Sweden– the history, the design heritage, the culture, and most of all the people. But right now, I’m not so in love with the ministers that run the place. For all those of you who live in Sweden, please bookmark this article so the next time that election cycles come around, you can remember how Prime Minister Reinfeldt feels about Saab and vote accordingly to elect politicians who value the Swedish auto industry.

Full English translation after the break.

The statement is a kick in the waist of the employees.

With a few exceptions, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt stayed away from the debate on the Saab. But yesterday, he commented on the recent crisis in the Daily Echo. He said: “I feel sorry for those working in a company the day before discovering that there was money for salaries.”

He also said: “Saab is a company that builds cars that can not make money.”

Still no word from the Government that Saab is a company to be proud of. And that for many years they have built the world’s safest cars, with excellent handling. And that [their success] even meant a lot for Volvo’s success. And that Sweden employs over 10,000 people within the supply industry. Or that the competition between Volvo and Saab, and Volvo Trucks and Scania, for that matter, helps to Sweden’s technical colleges train car manufacturers in the world.

Not a word about it. Just a kick right into the waist of the Saab line, and the Saab employees. With cockheaded statements even though he had never been to the factory and do not have a clue what Saab might earn on each car sold.

Maud Olofsson, who has always been the government’s spokesman in Saab affair, said yesterday the sale of Saab’s factory buildings: There are no buyers.

But that is not true. For his part, financier Vladimir Antonov has done everything possible to buy the mill, but stopped by the European Investment Bank, EIB, and the Swedish Government in tacit collusion. Antonov gave up last week to give free rein to a Swedish consortium with AP-fund-owned property Hemfosa in the majority. And contrary to Maud Olofsson’s statement they are in negotiations with Hemfosa Group.

Saab wants to sell some of their properties for SEK 300 million to meet the immediate crisis. It would require 30 million to pay (for the blue-collar employees, civil servants are paid at a different time) and so must the subcontractors are paid.

Ever since General Motors announced it would close down Saab the government has slandered and discredited both Saab and those who wanted to save the company. While it has been explained to prospective buyers of the company that Sweden is on the way out of industrial society and into the service community. Sweden, according to Finance Minister Anders Borg, at least will not have any car industry.

If the government gets what it wants to befall Saab already this week, then several of the international sub-contractors will disappear at a fact pace from Sweden, giving Volvo problems and, eventually, truck manufacturers.

About Volvo moves from London to China is perhaps no surprise, but when Scania start building trucks in Germany, it becomes apparent how different governments of Europe act to maintain its industry.

In Germany and France, governments have gone in with many billions in order to save his car left in the country. Same thing in Belgium, so there remains just Volvo left, as they were so confident.

But what happens in Sweden, one can not even guess.

Audun
Member
5 years 3 months ago

The Swedish GOVT does not understand the value of Saab for Sweden, in the past, now and in the future. The fighting spirit in Saab is strong and will be even stronger, I think.

ryanonsrc
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Being a newcomer to the Saab community: I am beginning to see that the Swedish gov’t seems to be somewhat schizophrenic (I am only just now getting the gist of all these wierd “windmill” references :-)). That being said, I really think a better outcome would stem from Saab being rescued by channels within the private sector, as opposed to the blunt instrument: that is the government.

twirix
Guest
5 years 3 months ago
No the Swedish government isn’t schizophrenic at all, they treat all companies the same in this matter. And that’s a good thing, private companies should not be run or financed by the government. Thousands companies are closing down every year in Sweden without requests that the government should save the companies. Fortunately thousands of new companies are also started every year. Capitalism is like Darwin’s evolution theory, the strong survives and the weak dies. Interaction from the government to save weak companies only get us more weak companies, and that is bad for us all. Hard words I know. When… Read more »
rune
Member
5 years 3 months ago
You could equally well say that weak countries will die and strong countries will survive. As for Darwin, he never said the “strong survives”. He simply stated that species must adapt. If you look at your country isolated from all others, then yes, your hypothesis makes perfect sense. But Sweden is no island. Saab is competing against foreign brands — brands that are being nurtured and protected. In addition, Sweden has a high taxation level, and this too affects Saab. Sweden is certainly not big enough to try such experiments independent of everyone else (that matters, such as USA and… Read more »
twirix
Guest
5 years 3 months ago
“If you look at your country isolated from all others, then yes, your hypothesis makes perfect sense. But Sweden is no island. Saab is competing against foreign brands — brands that are being nurtured and protected.” Yes Saab competes with foreign companies that get help from their governments but that is no argument for that the Swedish government should use Swedish tax payers money to help Saab, rather the opposite. It’s very hard to be profitable during these circumstances, and history has shown that it will be a waste of money. “It is not just the lack of a helping… Read more »
rune
Member
5 years 3 months ago

twirix, the accusation is there because of the time it has taken to approve Antonov. If you want your government to not run Saab (or support it in any way), should you not also demand that they stay out of the ownership question?

twirix
Guest
5 years 3 months ago

Then it’s clear you have no grounds at all.

1. the government say yes to Antonov if EIB and GM say yes.

2. Saab should not expect to be allowed to sell the security for the loan they have from EIB. Can you sell your house without paying back your house loan?

3. Saab has changed the details many times and this makes it harder for EIB to give an answer. Every time it happens they have to look into the matter once more.

4. Antonov have said he is no longer interested in the deal.

rune
Member
5 years 3 months ago
twirix, 1. They took their sweet time to get to that near-acceptance of Antonov. One year was it? They still haven’t actually said ‘yes’, but rather ‘weeeell… if the others say yes, we will say yes’. Compare this with the millions of euros injected into German and US car makers by their respective governments. 2. There’s more than just the property used as collateral. If you pay back half your mortgage, can you expect to sell off your cabin in the mountains and only let your house in the city remain as collateral? I think the answer is ‘yes’. 3.… Read more »
Khrisdk
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Hmmm
Shouldn’t this discussion be run over at Di.se where they are usually run?

Twirix;:

The Swedish Government decided to leave their usual opinion about letting the private sector be regulated by the market the moment they accepted to stand as guarantee for the EIB loans.
They have already broken their policy of free market evilution

Apart form that Swedish Government is one of the most regulating governments in the world towards their industries, workforce and market.
Remove taxation on work in Sweden, lower industry taxes, remove welfare taxes and social taxes, and Saab will be very competitive in the world.

twirix
Guest
5 years 3 months ago
1. He was not approved when Spyker bought Saab but now he has been approved to buy the buildings. Nothing remarkable about that. And the gov has said yes loud, clearly and in public. They don’t have to be enthusiastic about it, I am not even that. 2. If you want to change the security in any way you have to get an approval from the bank. If you have very good security and if you are a reliable person with a stable income it shouldn’t be much of a problem but that’s not the case with Saab. 3. I… Read more »
rune
Member
5 years 3 months ago
2. You are aware that the collateral belongs to the guarantor of the loan? The guarantor has a role in this as well. 3. Reference please. 4. Antonov has always communicated that he wants to own a stake in Saab the company. It was always obvious that the property deal was designed to provide immediate relief to Saab given the rather odd involvement by the government concerning the ownership question. 1. Well… See #4! It has always been and will always be the question of owning a part of Saab the company that is interesting and the one everyone want… Read more »
hans h
Member
5 years 3 months ago

This comment is wrong: “4. Antonov have said he is no longer interested in the deal.”

That deal was about the buildings, not the company. Hemfosa is interested in the buildings.

twirix
Guest
5 years 3 months ago

Antonov was interested in the buildings earlier but not any longer.

Khrisdk
Member
5 years 3 months ago

He is still interested in the buildings, but fecided to step down because of the delays of approval the leaseback deal, leaving it to the free market where Hemfosa is interested and do not need the same degree of approval from various government institutions.

hans h
Member
5 years 3 months ago

twirix, your strategy seems to be one of repeating old argument till there is no room for answering. So I answer here.

Could you please reread threads from a year ago. Don’t attack Victor Muller for saving Saab a year ago. You can’t change that.

davidgmills
Member
5 years 3 months ago
We don’t have pure capitalism, which is a good thing, because pure capitalism would have no rules. Well regulated capitalism is the best economic model, but we don’t have that either. What we have all over the world is crony capitalism. Governments are highly instrumental in making their corporations succeed or fail. Some governments do much more than other governments to make their corporations succeed and apparently Sweden is not one of the countries. It is really difficult for a company to succeed in a global economy unless it has lots of help from its government. That means help from… Read more »
RobinM
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Good words Robert. Swedish Goverment please take it in too.
I’m just one person and because of Saab I travel to Sweden quite often and rent cars, buy food, stay in hotels, etc etc. My money helps to run the country but it is mainly because of Saab that I visit Sweden.

Andrew-V
Member
5 years 3 months ago

So may be it would be better to move all industry facilities from Sweden into Continent, Saab for instance to Holland or Germany where car makers are in favourites. Let Sweden to stay with service and administrative resources for further development like UK. But it’s foolish to lose it what have been reached by so hard work and for long time.

Red J
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Maud Olofsson, who has always been the government’s spokesman in Saab affair, said yesterday the sale of Saab’s factory buildings: There are no buyers.

She can tell nonsense about windmills, or only talk about her mortar collection, but she should not lie in such a way. Those are no rumours that Hemfosa is willing to buy some real estate from Saab!!!

At least here in Germany when politicians lie, they try not to get caught !!!

Ruune
Member
5 years 3 months ago

She is right, there is no buyer yet, not till the deal is signed. Hemfosa is at the time a company showing serious interest in the realestate, nothing else.

Red J
Member
5 years 3 months ago

C’mon, don’t try to change history.

Almost two weeks ago the CEO of Hemfosa said, we only have have to talk about the price. Somebody saying that is a buyer.

Ruune
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Well, on this particular site facts have always been an issue, remember? “Stay to the facts” is a common line around. I just thought you should do that in this case as well, and as a matter of fact, like you say and the CEO of hemfosa said, its just the price left to discuss. Yesterdays development doesn’t make the price higher if you know what i mean. Hemfosa could probably make a bargain to wait for the bancrupcy instead of putting 300 mill on the table today.

So, please stay to the facts ok.

rune
Member
5 years 3 months ago

“There are no buyers” is what she was quoted as saying.

At one point there were two. VA pulled out when Hemfosa showed a real interest. I strongly suspect VA will be back on track in case Hemfosa changes their bid significantly to the worse.

2 > 0.

Marque
Member
5 years 3 months ago

“Hemfosa could probably”
vs.
“stay to the facts ok.”

Sorry but your writing is flippant.

Khrisdk
Member
5 years 3 months ago

In all fairness to Maud, even though I am allergic to Politicians as a species, she probably meant that they had not received any applications at the NDO.

WM
Member
5 years 3 months ago

At least you still have the capacity to be shocked when a politician lies! Here in the US, all politicians are serial liars. Very sad.

That said, they made a good call about our auto industries. Swedegov seems willfully ignorant or just outright apathetic to the direct and downstream impacts the collapse of SAAB will have on the workers and dependent industries. Seems a bit odd.

sandborg
Guest
5 years 3 months ago

This woman is pure poison.
Wonder why she is so hateful, especially towards SAAB?

Khrisdk
Member
5 years 3 months ago

I am pretty sure that it has nothing to do with hate.
She is just a typical politician following the lines laid down by the government and policy.
She dosn’t care is Saab lives or dies as long as they do it by the government rules and according to policy

Börjesson
Member
5 years 3 months ago

At yesterday’s press conference, which can be viewed in its entirety on this link, Maud Olofsson said:

“Now Saab needs to find financiers and find a solution to the real estate deal. When there is a buyer and a contract, the government must give its approval. This we are prepared to do.”

Robert Collin, in customary media style, made a free interpretation of this. It’s hardly a good reason for flaming ms Olofsson. (There are other good reasons, though. :))

Red J
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Sorry, but even with that text, she was balancing on a very thin line. 😉

NC
Member
5 years 3 months ago

As a Russian seeing how far the local government goes to help Lada (which still manufactures mid-20th century Fiat-derived cars and some “newer” models from the 1980s) – I wish Saab could get a tenth of that! – I am just unable to understand the stance of the Swedish ministers. Either I am too primitive to comprehend these “post-industrial” high matters, or something very much wrong is being done. Isn’t it a great advantage for a country to have a competitive manufacturing industry any longer?

Procyon
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Well said. Looks like Swedish goverment acts against interests of its own country!

Audun
Member
5 years 3 months ago

+1

michael
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Yep, about 1 billion USD last year, if I remember correctly. And defensive import duties, which are essentially an equivalent to credit.

Andrew-V
Member
5 years 3 months ago

But we blame Putin for those money in favour of uncompetitive car maker. And product did not be better due to it. As long as Reno-Nissan took part. To help domestic manufacturer is right but no method what in Russia as those money is going into top managers pockets…In all to help by money it means to exceed the bounds of market rules, what is not right. On market that has a right to live who is survivable and competitive.

michael
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Actually, no country really has a “free self-regulating market”. And even if it had, we are discussing worldwide market here. And if German and US Automakers get their government help, and also US Government has its word in all Saab affairs, then we cannot say there is a fair competition, and your statement “On market that has a right to live who is survivable and competitive” is of course wrong in many ways.

Andrew-V
Member
5 years 3 months ago

To use administrative resource to help local manufacturer, it’s right. But don’t outside of rules. I for instance don’t know your local sweden rules and therefore I don’t undertake to blame Gov. for it. I am against conception of unindustrial society if historical country is industrial.

michael
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Well, “local” manufacturers are almost non-existent, so when you help one, you increase its competitiveness on global scene. So it’s almost you must help your manufacturer if the majority of other countries do. Also, government credits are no way against the rules 😉

Angel-off
Member
5 years 3 months ago

As a Russian you should know that “post-industrial” society is actually the “next step” after Socialism: Communism. But where every other country failed, Sweden can succeed. They have one rear national feature – social-oriented thinking. But example with Lada is not quite right here – Vladimir Putin has a completely different instrumentarium to work with and reason to push it.

michael
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Oh really? So doing nothing material is the next step in which Sweden can succeeed? That’s just ridiculous.

Andrew-V
Member
5 years 3 months ago

But post-industrial sweden socialism must be built on market rules anyway. In Russia there is problem with this and exists fixed idea to manage economy manually.

michael
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Market is always regulated more or less. It’s only in Russia it’s regulated by corruption and sometimes directly by president/prime minister (I don’t know, what regulation is more powerful, though ;)), and in Sweden by tons or rules and restrictions.

Andrew-V
Member
5 years 3 months ago

In Russia the president & prime minister regulation is more powerful if need. But corruption manages mainly.

Andrew-V
Member
5 years 3 months ago

And if Saab finds oneself in Russia then Government would put money how much it needs and more. But in a few years Saab would turn into VAZ/Lada.

900 classic cab
Guest
5 years 3 months ago

Does anyone have connections to the movie industry in Trollhättan ? Maybe someone is willing to do a documentary about this.

Khrisdk
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Well; Zentropa is there.
Maybe we could persuade Lars Von Trier to rewrite Melancholia a little bit:-)

900 classic cab
Guest
5 years 3 months ago

🙂

alibertism
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Saab cannot make money? No company can make money without short term funding. How can one expect Saab to “make money” right away, after being mishandled and mistreaded by GM for so many years?

It’s so sad to see Sweden destroy it’s own industry! How can politicians be so shortsighted?
This is the kind of politics that bleed productivity and wealth out of a country. This is the kind of politics that lead a country into bankruptcy! Believe me, I live in Greece and seen it happen!

SaabSouth
Member
5 years 3 months ago

I find the attitude of the swedish Government baffling. Saab is a gem and could be a worldwide success if it was funded correctly. I think it is obvious that VM never had enough money to really leverage the brand but the government could. Funny irony that if it all goes pete tong the Swedish Government are the ones guaranteeing the EIB loan therefore in theory would own Saab……

Motoradd's Cat
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Now that would be interesting.

Maud could then speak of using Swedish Taxpayers money to…

a) Keep Saab going by providing short term working capital
b) Pay off the workforce and close the plant
c) Re-train the workforce to make windmills
d) None of the above

Coke is it
Member
5 years 3 months ago

So, know I understand why they don’t react at all. They want to take over Saab when Saab file for bankruptcy. This is probably why Maud is leaving the gov, she has already made plans to be the new CEO of Saab!

SAAB_Andee
Member
5 years 3 months ago
@SAAB south – the problem is the low cashflow caused by the slow rising sales in 2010 and the very low american market. And because of the complex situation with EIB and Gov nobody could really put money in. SInce 2 months we are waiting for an answer to let investors in. So the sale and leaseback with a swedish company is the only quick solution The same is the useless supplier situation -saab can only pay the suppliers when they produce cars – so let them produce cars and pay them on delivery until the chinese deal or an… Read more »
Ruben NL
Member
5 years 3 months ago

I think the Swedish government hav read this list: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43486360/ns/business-us_business/t/brands-wont-be-around/

Not the op-10 you want to be in, I guess.

jelger
Member
5 years 3 months ago

The day that a government sails on msnbc lists for running a country, they might as well file for bankruptcy as well.

saabman
Member
5 years 3 months ago
In the US there criticism over the government’s bail out of the auto industry (and of course that situation in part gave rise to Saab’s current troubles, since GM was quick to let go of it in its restructuring). But, the US automakers are now improving, so the bailout was probably positive. It would be nice if the Swedish government felt the same way about its marque industries. Is there any sense that the Social Democrats would have more favorable policies vis a vis Saab? It’s speculation, I know, and probably irrelevant since an election was just held, but interesting… Read more »
Nate 9-3
Member
5 years 3 months ago

The Global “Establishment” does not want SAAB in the picture. They want a few mega conglomerates (FIAT, for example). The same establishment see China and Russia as major threats. Maud and F.R. are players in this establishment.

You do the math. Their disdain for SAAB is agenda-driven. If I was Swedish I vote them out of office.

Khrisdk
Member
5 years 3 months ago
The global establishment does not exist. There is some sort of consensus in the present ideas and that’s about it. We can always discuss wether the ideas are right or wrong, but most of them are born out of industrialism. Most western Governments assume that we can not compete with the BRIC and new EU countries in the long term on industry, and tries to shift the aim of its population into longer educations and higher levels to become a service/tech/innovation country. At the same time they make tha assumption that only very large manufacturing industries can survive. An idea… Read more »
GerritN
Member
5 years 3 months ago
You just wrote the comment that I was planning to write for a couple of weeks already after hearing the Swedish government steering the country in the direction of a service based economy (stick finger in throat and throw up). Two things I’d like to add. Getting rid of your industry makes it easier for the Greenies to show that your country is, well, green. Having no industry means that you don’t get dirty, have no health issues, etc. Just move all of that nasty stuff to some poor people in a country which has no labor laws. I’m always… Read more »
Lardy
Member
5 years 3 months ago
Ahhh, you mean follow the UK’s lead. A policy of leaving industry to sink or swim on it’s “free market” merits in a marketplace where other countries subsidise or otherwise aid their own industries, thereby skewing competition. Service industries with little regulation (because they can regulate themselves) and sit back and watch the service jobs go to India/Malaysia/China etc. Not sure what we have left in the UK or where the cycle takes you after you move agriculture, then manufacturing and then services to “cheaper” parts of the world. Maybe we just sit and wait a few years until those… Read more »
Börjesson
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Irrelevant? Possibly. Interesting? Definitely! 🙂

Very well put, Khrisdk!

NextStopChina
Member
5 years 3 months ago

On [ http://www.aftonbladet.se ] there is a poll, if the readers think Saab can be saved.
Search for [ Tror du att Saab kan räddas? ].
It doesn’t look good for Saab!

Right now:
Ja (14.7 %) “Yes”
Nej (85.3 %) “No”

Red J
Member
5 years 3 months ago

TTela.se had a similar poll and the result was:
70% Saab wont survive
30 % Saab will survive

It is interesting to see how less faith people have. 🙁

SAAB_Andee
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Don´t car about these polls – We have the same poll with Greek going bancrupt every week in the news.

But it´s a shame that only bad news go on air – saab was on the liveticker in the news yesterday in austria.

Niklas G
Member
5 years 3 months ago

+1
People voting in such polls often know roughly nothing about the thing they are voting about, and so far everybody declaring Saab dead has always been terribly wrong.

But the current liquidity problem must be solved, the staff must get their salary and the production restarted. That’s whatt matters and some of the best people in the business are working day an night on it. Sending good vibes to them.

SaabSouth
Member
5 years 3 months ago
Isn’t that an indication of how the press present a biased view? I have a 1 year old Saab convertible. I love it , but when I turn up at the golf club or social events I am always greeted with ‘Didn’t Saab go bust?’ reason being the press were all over GM dumping Saab but no one was interested when it was saved…. because no one gives a sh*t there are loads of good cars out there so if Saab go pop you buy an Audi, VW or BMW (vomit). But for the Swedes (and only the Swedes) Saab… Read more »
Nissi
Member
5 years 3 months ago
Much of the discussion here now seems to be based on feelings, not on facts, so once again, let´s look at the facts for Swedish industry: The size of Swedish car industry 2010, mainly Volvo and Scania trucks, buses and Volvo and SAAB cars is only 4 billion SEK, when measured as net export (export minus import) 2010. (of this SAAB due to losses might even give a negative contribution 2010 and 2011). These figures are not growing, because the imported parts in car industry are growing and is so small becauase all SMALL vehicles today mostly is assembling imported… Read more »
Khrisdk
Member
5 years 3 months ago
Saab is actually one of those happier marriages where there is actually a possibility of combining tech and production.. That’s what the Danish Furniture Industry is doing with Swedish Wood. Since we have NOTHING in the natural reserves department, we need a high rate of processing of raw materials into products with a very much increased value. Or our agricultural production. Which is suffering, bleeding and dying at the moment. And then we make a nice cut of all the logistics of China trade thanks to Mærsk-Sealand. Though the day the old guy dies, the sentimental feelings about Denmark dies… Read more »
Niklas G
Member
5 years 3 months ago
The reason why I believe in Saab is that I consider it to be very competetive against the rest of the world. I mean that the products are and if, for example EIB had let Antonov in reasonably fast, the current circus wold never have appeared. Saab would have had the factory runnng and the current 10 000 car order stock would most probably already have been built and sold and Antonov would perhaps already be working on getting Saab in on the Russian market. Considering how long EIB and GM and the Swedish government and others have spent on… Read more »
SaabSouth
Member
5 years 3 months ago
Not sure that using 2010 is a really true reflection. Coming out of GM shut down and without any imfrastructure. But surely it is the potential for future export that the government should see, if Saab get to 120,000 units (not unreasonable) and employs 4000 people that has got to be better than having them all going to coffee clubs in Trollhatten playing chess. And how many countries would kill for a world wide car brand…… why do you think the Chinese are so interested in Saab! Governments do not have any future vision becasue they only look to the… Read more »
KaiC
Member
5 years 3 months ago

Good social security system maybe the bad thing that leads saab to the case they are on in such a worse economy environment .The GOV. always think about the reaction of the taxpayers before they decide anything.But i wonder if they know how to keep the high welfare?Keep the economies running well is the right way.So does the industry.You lose your money when you lose your competition,and then you lose the texpayers and lose the good welfare .Finally you lose the basement of the good social security system.

jouni72
Member
5 years 3 months ago
Going back to Robert Collin´s article. I have thought about saving Saab brand from a different perspective. As an architect I really talk for saving old buildings which are left, because they are our link to ancient time, they tell something about our roots. Old building has a story. When You tear down a old building, You will never get it back, thus You would rebuild it exactly in the same way. I think the value of old is getting bigger in the future in this very rapidly changing world. It is also a same thing with Saab. It is… Read more »
wpDiscuz