Digging into Maud’s claims (for future reference)

First of all, the following is intended to again draw attention to the Swedish government’s lack of commitment to the Swedish automobile industry. I am not necessarily advocating spending the taxpayers’ money, although that would certainly be in everyone’s best interest. I am however reminding people that the government are still dragging their feet when asked to approve Antonov as a major shareholder of Saab. It seems as if the government are pushing EIB to not approve Antonov so the public won’t realize the government are actively trying to bury the automobile industry.

In any case: I find it both interesting as well as annoying the way politicians twist and turn around the issues at hand.

An excellent example is Maud Olofsson’s infamous letter to Mr Antonov.

Two quotes stand out:

As the first country in Europe we launched a special automotive package. In total SEK 28 billion was set aside.

and this:

In most cases these solutions do not include the involvement of the Swedish government, but when they have done so we have been keen to act.

Notice the way she phrases “have been keen to act”. She does not say “we have resolutely acted” or anything that might mean that they have actually done something. She is not telling us a direct lie, but rather neatly sidesteps the question completely.

It is a very irresponsible and dishonest way of conducting government business.

We did not comment on this at the time, because it is very obvious what is being done. I half expected the Swedish press to dig into this, but I guess they have long ago stopped trying to get a straight answer from those in charge.

Let us step back in time to see what has been done (or not). I am sure most here remember Swade’s appeal to the Swedish PM back in November 2009:

Saab, whose future may be decided by owner General Motors Co. next week, has asked the Swedish government to make as much as 5 billion kronor ($717 million) available in emergency loans, and to inform GM of this before a board meeting on Dec. 1.

— As reported by Bloomberg in 2009

That is admittedly a hefty chunk of those 28 billions that Maud brags about. Anyone care to guess what the reply was? That is right: Nej.

28 billions SEK is a good chunk of money. So far, 3 billions have been spent to form the venture capital group Fouriertransform. They in turn have invested 356 million SEK in 11 companies (including a spinoff from Saab Powertrain Europe – Vicura AB).

As far as I can tell, only a little more than one percent of those 28 billions have actually been put to any use. If Fouriertransform picks up the pace, we will be looking at a 10% usage. This is still a far cry away from the number Maud presented.

Swade already explained the reasons why, back in December 2009:

Because any money borrowed has to be paid back within six months. This is the car industry, where you may not see returns on an investment made today for another three years.

— Swade, explaining the basics to the Swedish government

A six month loan is not a sincere offering of help. It is a good slap in the face though.

To sum up: The Swedish government does not want to contribute any money or loans, but they do take an active role in actually running ruining the company. This is in stark contrast to their own policy of not being in the business of making cars.

Audun
Member

“but they do take an active role in actually running the company.”… “running”?

rune
Member

“controlling” would perhaps be more accurate.

Audun
Member

Yes, control that Saab doesn’t survive.

Audun
Member

If Renault , Volvo and Wolksvagen can grow, Saab can too. That is, if they are allowed to survive and come out with the next 9-3.

till72
Member

Right now, it’s more an active role in ruining.

900 classic cab
Guest

Maybe if we put them on the spotlight for these negative reasons they would change their attitude towards SAAB. But how can this be achieved ?

Audun
Member

+1, and I’m sure most of us argree with you.

Ruben NL
Member

Nah, that would be too obvious 🙂

kochje
Member

This should be brought to the attention of the unions.
Politicians only are sensitive to them rather than the employers.

Goesen
Member

R.Collin of Aftonbladet touches the subject in his blog aswell. In swedish…

Robert Collin’s Aftonbladet Blog

DUTCH900C
Member

The only thing i will write here is:

It’s a shame that Maud or any other person of the Sewdish goverment get’s any attention from me or anybody else and that is because how the complete Swedish goverment has act so far in the case of “our brand”, SAAB!
Ohw yes, i’m very angry against those people!

JasonPowell
Member

DUTCH900C,
If no attention, no one will know of the incompetence towards the Saab situation. I think it’s a shame that we need to be the ones pointing out the incompetence that is so obvious to many, yet the Swedish public doesn’t seem to care because they seem to believe what they have been fed. I’m not saying anything negative about the Swedish people, I think this is more like a being force fed BS from the Government and media thing.

DUTCH900C
Member

OK, 1 extra comment here:

What i ment with people is the people of the Swedish goverment, as Maud Oloffson and not the Swedish citizen.

OddJob
Member

Here’s an article from May about what the Government wants in Aftonbladet

and from TTELA in April about the Swedish Sinister of Finances’ visits to EIB

RS
Member

the Swedish government has put a lot of effort and engagement into the automotive industry. We have done so because this industry is important for Sweden. During the years it has been a source of jobs and growth. We are many who find pride in Swedish cars.

So the factory restart will go very smoothly then…

Remdu67
Member

I am totally agree : those facts show to an evidence what the economical strategy of Sweden (since ?) seems to be: the less industry that “eats” capital and gives low profits the better it is.

Strangely, Germany, the economical european leader, is NOT following these short term views.

Anyway, the facts are that sw.gouv nearly did nothing to help Saab but, worse, seems to do its best to make things a bit more complicated that they already are… The “paranoiac” question of an “hidden agenda” is still somewhere in my mind… Hope to be totally wrong very soon.

Anyway, thx Rune.

Audun
Member

Perhaps there isn’t a hidden agenda. Perhaps the Swedish government just don’t have a clue of how things work in the real life?

oxblod89
Member

The latter maybe the case actually . . . As a citizen of Sweden I actually ask myself that question quite often.

RS
Member

Here’s an example.
The Swe Govt has to my understanding demanded Saab only to produce low CO2 cars, yet they buy -with tax payer money- cars like:
Toppmodellen som statsministern ofta åker i är en bepansrad BMW 760 IL med en 6 liters V12-motor som ger en effekt på 445 hästkrafter.

So. They would buy a flagship (Hi-Po) 9-5? (plenty of legroom I might add)

oxblod89
Member

In other news I read in a newspaper here in Sweden that the PM Fredrik Reinfeldt due to his home “Sagerska palatset” had to be renovated that he then hired a flat to live in during this work. The rent for the flat? Around 60 000 SEK a month! I guess the taxpayers money which they so often protect was of less importance this time.

As a reference, I pay around 7 000 SEK a month for a normal 3 room and kitchen.

Jonas Axelsson
Member

So a US company bails out on Saab.

A Dutch, Russian and some Chinese come in to run it.

I assume that the profits will go to the investors outside of Sweden.

Now, why should the Swedish government get all concerned with outside parties if the profits are being bled out?

This is not the Saab of “your fathers”, this is the bastard child of GM isn’t it? I would love to see a new Swedish car emerge, but that would be in a dream?

Why should they put money or just what should the government do?

w3c validator
Guest

As the Swedish NDO have said that they have no problem with Antonov as an owner of Saab, then the Swedish government could approve him at once – just as a mark towards the EIB and GM, instead of saying that they have to wait for the EIB and GM to first approve Antonov before they can say ok.

zippy
Member

That’s what I thought had happened and I was starting to kid myself I must be dreaming – or going insane. Maybe the Swedish government is waiting for ‘a backhander’ before they approve. 😉 One thing is certain, if the ‘you know what’ hits the fan the Swedish government is going to have a fair bit of explaining to do.

Saab Up!

rune
Member

Now, why should the Swedish government get all concerned with outside parties if the profits are being bled out?

Both Saab the company and its employees pay taxes in Sweden.

Why should the government spend 18 months figuring out if Antonov should be let onboard or not..? Where is the gain in that? And for whom?

Audun
Member

And Volvo is 100% Chinese owned. In Volvo in Sweden there work a lot of people who pay tax in Sweden.

sala or bust
Guest
Why should they put money or just what should the government do? The government should * not put in any money * should not comment on making other stuff (wind mills…) * should not talk of making non selling car modells But what they should do, is applause, encourage and talk good of our industry to any investor trying to invest in what they think is a great business! THAT is what the citizen should expect and demand of the government, minister of finance and minister of enterprise… Since of topic stuff is a big “no-no” I will not tell… Read more »
Audun
Member

+1
( I won´t tell that I wash…..)

robbe
Guest
I am not necessarily advocating spending the taxpayers’ money, although that would certainly be in everyone’s best interest. I respectfully disagree with this statement. I’m confident that some of Saab’s competitors who pay taxes in Sweden don’t wish to see their hard-earned profits go to support Victor Muller’s efforts. I don’t think they’re gleefully rubbing their hands, hoping that Saab will fail, but I do think they’d rather reinvest their profits in their own company and employees than support a struggling competitor. And there are certainly individual Swedes who would rather not see their tax burden increased by having to… Read more »
rune
Member
Well, if Saab dies, then you’ll have the pleasure of spending your tax money paying for a bunch of people now unable to find jobs. That is hardly tax money well spent, now is it? I work in Oslo and live a little bit north of THN. I can’t help but notice how many Swedish people cross the borders into Norway to find jobs there. I doubt this is an avenue open to thousands more. As for Saab, they have a strong product portfolio. It is much stronger than it ever has been. If you look at Saab’s numbers, you… Read more »
Romac
Member

Time to commission “Release Me version 2” from Oh Laura?

katar1na
Member

Rune – you´re perfectly right – SAAB employees and not only them but subcontractors and Trollhättan community as a whole are TAX-payers and hard working people!

titangray – I suppose you´re not old enough to remember the great “one and only Volvo” that paid no taxes and even had roads built and god-knows-what for tax-payers money in amounts that SAAB never will come close during their golden era in the 70´s is nothing you have in mind?

Maud – that lady is so screwed. She is soon a forgotten name.
Her own party friends are abondoning her – just wait and see…

NorthOfAtlanta
Member

Just going to repeat my comment from a week or 2 ago, Maud and crew need to follow Ted Turners motto.

“Lead, follow or get out of the way.”

ViggenJetsMan
Member

North of Atlanta,

as a retired active duty CoastGuard Man, I must respectfully add to whom must go the credit for that classic line. “Lead, Follow, or get the Hell out of the Way!” has been attributed to the Marines, as well as to General Patton.

Both are admirable role models which Ted Turner (or anyone else, for that matter…) do well to emulate.

NorthOfAtlanta
Member

As a 7+ year USMC vet I Knew about your quote, just figured Teds was a little nicer. He didn’t do real bad for a billboard company owner.

Romac
Member
It is a very irresponsible and dishonest way of conducting government business. Does the new Comments Policy extend to remarks like this? I only ask because Maud, believe it or not, is a human being, not doubt with feelings like you & I. She probably feels like giving up when she reads stuff like that. Not saying she (and any politician in general) doesn’t have faults, and that we wouldn’t like her to have done more to help, but… …I seem to recall even VA suggested backing off on the rhetoric some weeks ago! Generally, more gets done by being… Read more »
Ronnie_Rad
Member

Don’t worry,
Maud isn’t a human being, she’s not even capable of being so.

w3c validator
Guest

Of course Maud is a person, but this is not critisism towards her persona.. but to the office she represent. Some times I get a whole lot of trash thrown at me because of my job, but that is not towards me as a person but towards me in the role I have with my work. Two different things there.

skwdenyer
Member
Now, remember, as TimR told us all, this is not a place where “the community controls the contents”. You may think that Rune’s post is not up to the mark, but you may not say so in an open forum. Talking about dissent is evidence of dissent 🙂 More seriously, Rune’s post is pure OpEd, something that perhaps ought to be better signed on the site in order to distinguish it from “real news”. As an opinion, it is valid for Rune to hold it. It is just as valid to question why VM couldn’t find another investor in the… Read more »
skwdenyer
Member

Apologies. I shouldn’t have posted at 2am and been quite so cynical.

Rune’s opinions are interesting. I do maintain that there should probably be a way of making obvious to readers that some posts are ‘Editorial’ or ‘Individual Opinion’ as opposed to ‘News’ however. If every post is (potentially) an opinion piece (as this is), it doesn’t support SU’s contention to be a source of news for people, which would be a shame.

rune
Member
As an opinion, it is valid for Rune to hold it. It is just as valid to question why VM couldn’t find another investor in the whole world willing to invest in Saab. The biggest problem with your reply is not that you want to debate the topic at hand. The problem is that you are derailing the discussion into discussing the topic of a completely different posting (namely the comments policy). As for your opinion concerning VM, it is obvious that not only has VM found a different investor, he has managed to find two (three if you count… Read more »
till72
Member

I think TTAero’s comment sums it up quite well. We are not asking for taxpayers money. We are just asking the government to get out of the way as Saab has found private investors who want to invest their own money on Saab. Some are even faithful enough to pay cars they ordered in advance. That says a lot to me. And this is the message that needs to get out to the public.

Mynoob
Member

What if the problem is not the Government or EIB but the business plan itself that is not working? Have people ever considered that?

Khrisdk
Member

Wouldn’t you expect someone to come out and announce that?

Mynoob
Member

Well, no. I’m pretty sure that Swegov put their hopes to Chinagov for this deal to be pulled through.

If they go out and anounce that EIB is cancelling the loan they will be directly blamed for killing Saab.

Not a very good move.

Khrisdk
Member

Well, that just accentuates that this is more politics than economics making the decisions.

M.A.
Member

Frustration is right now the least what I feel towards the Swedish Government’s handling of SAAB. The manufacturer is being treated as a sick horse that should be put out of its misery. Besides, part of the media is helping, exploiting any “bad news” on front pages doing some kind of brain washing to the public. But this horse is not sick, he wants to have a long life and expand. So please, don’t put a bullet in his head.

Mynoob
Member

I think it is as simple as presenting a viable business plan that everyone is comfortable with. If VA could invest what is considered needed there would probably not be a problem.

This whole conspiracy theory about the government is really getting rediculous. It is fueled Mr. Carlström and his gang and I just can’t understand why VA would like to have this troublemaker as his spokesperson at all.

Khrisdk
Member
I can 🙂 I agree, it would be a whole lot easier if someone bought out both GM and EIB and presented a finished plan for investments totally free of any strings. But as things stand now, the only reason that is fact is that Antonov was pressured out of the original deal because of some suspicions regarding his persona that have now been dismissed by a couple of investigations That means that it would be a political question, and the best way to fight politicians is attacking their credability, which Carlström does. If there are other founded economical worries… Read more »
Mynoob
Member

I think that the main reason why VA is not an owner in Saab now is that he has not put up a credible business plan.

Khrisdk
Member
You may be right. We will never know as long as noone puts out the information. But by the time he was taken out of the deal there was a “fully funded businessplan” If he had been let in earlier, maybe the current crisis would not have happened I am pretty sure that VA does not have the money to sustain Saab alone in the current situation, hence the Chinese deals, but I also think that a producing Saab would need less money at the moment.. For now everything is only speculation, One fact that remains is that the collateral… Read more »
ANA
Member

I am not necessarily advocating spending the taxpayers’ money, although that would certainly be in everyone’s best interest.

A very big statement, and possibly true, but this comment was not substantiated whatsoever in the post.

rune
Member

In a few hours I’ll leave for my vacation. If you have a question, why don’t you just ask it?

skwdenyer
Member

OK, I’ll ask it! Can you substantiate your contention that spending taxpayers’ money to assist Saab “would certainly be in everyone’s best interest”?

rune
Member

Yes and No.

I do not own a crystal ball, plus hindsight is 20/20 (and not that useful).

Germany, France and USA are just some of the countries that do help their automobile industry from time to time. Their helpful meddling does not seem to have hurt.

Do you think the government made the right decision to not help back in 2009? Why? What good came of that?

Mynoob
Member

In 2009 they helped to pull the deal through, they even put 4 billion SEK of the tax payers money at risk though the EIB loan which I think was a mistake.

Khrisdk
Member

You’re repeting a mistake
They did not put any Taxpayer money at risk.
The have taken collateral to cover the risk

OddJob
Member
Sorry this is a bit flashback and its long , but I have to release it…. To my opinion, with information that has come to surface quite recently, the Swedish government made up their standpoint about Saab two and a half years ago and haven’t changed an inch since then. When Maud Olofsson and Jöran Hägglund met the GM bosses in early January 2009 their message was ‘The government will not give any economical support or take over Saab, even if only temporarily’. To my belief I think the GM bosses tried to play hardball like they did with other… Read more »
Tripod
Member
One has to remember that the government works with consensus, i.e. it’s not a one-man show, minister this or that can do whatever they please, they decide all things together within the government; and also, that the power within the government is, for quite obvious reasons, heavily tilted towards the PM and the Minister for Finance, both from the same party, the largest in the coalition. That said, each of the members of the government, any government, is of course responsible for what they say; a very simple rule, I think, should be that if you think that you can’t… Read more »
Jonas Axelsson
Member
Ah! Is it Antonov money or money that Antonov’s bank controls? Hell of a question but bankers have been getting rich on OPM (other peoples money), for ages. Let’s answer that question. Is it from his personal holdings or money he has committed from his collective groups that the Antanov’s (father and son), have control over. The whole US banking and real property collapse started with the “OPM” systems. The mantra is never, never, never, use your own money. Then hide behind an LLC, Ltd, or Inc. banner. Please examine the concept of “piercing the corporate veil” here. What do… Read more »
Jonas Axelsson
Member

It pains me to see something happening and we common people are at the mercy of the world bankers.

For that matter, “our” dear Hillary Clinton aspires to be the head of The World Bank, perhaps she and Maud are birds of a feather?

What is the Euro perception of Hillary and the WB?

michaelb
Member
The point is very simple: The government should decide and communicate asap if they approve VA as a shareholder or not. The existing and future Chinese owners of SWAN have to know about it in order to be able to take their strategic decisions. I am not familiar with Swedish politics and – as an outsider – do not want to comment about that. As far as I understand no money from the government is required, it is just a new shareholder approval. However, there are definitely political aspects involved, which are maybe underestimated among readers here. The Swedish government… Read more »
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