As you know, Saab’s owners and prospective buyers are feverishly working out details on a way to complete a deal to get the company back on sure footing. There are so many moving parts at the moment that the only reasonable thing we can ask for is that everyone brace themselves for an extremely bumpy week.
Two weeks ago I requested that everyone take a deep breath and relax for a few days as there wasn’t going to be any important news emerging for a few days. I took flack for it, but I’m still glad that I asked for it since it gave everyone a break to reflect and clear their heads. Today I’m asking for another deep breath, not because there won’t be any big news- quite the contrary. This week there will be volumes written about Saab, but not all of it will have a firm grasp on the real situation behind the scenes. There were times when our DNS server struggled with the incredible load placed upon it, and there may be moments where the site is slow to load. Not only are loyal readers checking the site, but international media, dealers, and even Saab employees themselves using SU as a check to be sure that there is a consistent message across the company. Be patient if the site loads slowly, even though the server has been upgraded, we’re dealing with monumental traffic.
Through all of this, we have been cautious to report about behind the scenes details out of concern that any small leak could blow up into a full blown flood. There’s a reason you don’t see us guessing too much on here, or only posting certain articles. Our goal is to eliminate the noise and use the news coverage to give SU readers insight into what’s actually happening behind the scenes. As I read through most of the coverage of Saab over the weekend, I was pretty amazed at how completely uninformed most journalists and bloggers are about the company’s situation. The same can be said for our comments section, and while some theories are completely off the wall, others have been spot on accurate.
I volunteered to become a writer here earlier this year because I was wanted to be able to get closer to the company so I could promote a closer dialogue between the company and the drivers who love Saab. I felt at the time that the sale had seriously damaged Saab’s reputation and wanted to contribute to promoting the company to the greater public. Never did I imagine that we would be so tuned into every twist and turn in the management’s fight to save the company from liquidation. And yet, I feel more than ever that we have a responsibility not just to report the news but to cut through the clutter and report the real story. Swade did his best to calm the Saab masses during the GM sale to Spyker, and he clued us in through Djup Strup’s insight. We have tried to do the same in this situation, but we also owe it to all the players to give them space to craft the best deal for Saab.
What everyone needs to remember, critics especially, is that Victor Muller makes every single move for a reason- to protect Saab, himself, and SWAN shareholders. After all, that’s his fiduciary duty. Rather than nitpick every statement he makes or dissect every word of his statements, to truly understand his strategy one must zoom out to a macro level and analyze major events simultaneously. Add to that the fact that Victor is always prepared with a backup plan that he keeps tight to his chest. There’s a reason why he’s considered such a remarkable deal maker, he is able to think like Wayne Gretzky- positioning the company where he thinks the best deal will be. He purposely downplays expectations while working tirelessly behind the scenes to secure a solid result. There were times especially these past few weeks that obstacles have been placed in SWAN’s way, namely by Guy Lofalk, yet they have done their best to work with the conditions on the ground. Sadly, if only the Swedish government could end their preoccupation with trying to replace Saab’s management, and give them the protection they need long enough to move forward with a reasonable plan, they might finally see that SWAN has their country’s best interests at heart.
One consistent theme at the core of all the writers here is that we want Saab to succeed, to clear these hurdles, and finally have capable owners that can bear the fruit of all the plans Spyker put in place over the last year. What’s incredible is how at the beginning of the year, we were making predictions for Saab to sell over 70K vehicles this year, we sometimes forget that. Their business plan was never the problem, their liquidity and overhead has been the stumbling point. Before anyone suggests that they need billions of dollars to be able to move forward (at the advice of auto “experts” who are clueless about Saab’s actual asset sheet), remember that had they maintained the pace of the first few months of this year, they’d be very close to meeting their guidance and potentially being profitable by the end of next year. No doubt SWAN made mistakes, but they have learned precious lessons that will surely inform their cost reduction strategies going forward. Add to that they understand that whatever deal they strike needs to be strong enough to ensure proper liquidity, and that whoever they make a deal with is prepared to provide it in the long term.
We at SaabsUnited firmly believe in the potential for Saab going forward. We want to see the partnerships with BMW, Vicura, eAAM, ZF, Boston Power, GM and others continue and prove that the company can thrive independently through partnerships. The whole idea that Saab needs Chinese production to survive is contrived, and while it does offer opportunities for growth, it’s not an essential component that should determine the future of the company. Despite what Guy Lofalk or anyone else may say, Saab’s problem was never its business strategy, but its undercapitalization and liquidity. Rather than disrupting the process or throwing more road blocks in front of Saab, we implore the court, the government, and the stakeholders to clear the road for Saab to form the best deal for their own mutual interest. There will be a lot less fallout from a successful reconstruction than a failed one.
So as you read the coverage around the net, pay careful attention as much to what is said here as what isn’t. If there’s a story we’re not reporting, it’s not because we haven’t read it, but that we think it strays from the real story. We’ll be presenting you the most direct and reasoned coverage we can based on what we know and have known for some time. We simply ask that no matter what happens, everyone steers clear of panic. There are contingencies. Hold on tight, this is about to get very, very interesting.