Looking for The Deal

News are rare when it comes to the negotiations at Saab and we all are trying to understand what a solution could look like. In this post I put together my own view of what could happen based on what I’ve read and heard during the past two weeks. Not to say that this is the only way, just to point out what is most likely to me.

As we could read yesterday, Pang Qinghua, the chairman of Pang Da was heading for Sweden to further discuss the deal. MENAFN.com quote him as follows:

“Now GM’s attitude has eased up, and I will head for Sweden to have further discussions about related problems.”

Sure, he is as near to the talks as one can be, but I doubt that GM’s attitude has eased up. At least I can read that from all indications the SU crew has gotten from different sources. I would dare to say that a 100% Chinese ownership of Saab including all licensing as it is now will never happen as long as GM has a say.

Since the “no” from GM came we have quite silent times when it comes to real news. All we get to see are statements from the various parties involved in the process. Looking closely at all those statements to me there is a slight difference in what they say. Saab, which mostly means Gunilla Gustavs, has said that there are talks about an ownership structure that could please GM. Youngman’s Rachel Pang did not comment on the question if Youngman would agree to become a minority shareholder. Honestly I’ve never seen any comment from any of them on that issue. So are they still trying to convince Saab of a 100% sale? I hope not, that should be a waste of time.

Victor told the press a few weeks ago that even the old plan with 54% Chinese ownership was off the table, which in my view means that the share GM would be willing to allow for Pang Da and Youngman would be quite a bit lower. Many here say that Victor will an important part in the negotiations with GM as he knows how to handle them. This may be true, he said he warned all parties that the 100% deal would end up that way.

In my opinion the first approach to GM consisted of a deal that made it easy for them to give a plain “no”. The original plan with 54% Chinese ownership had given more room for talks on that plan. Instead Pang Da, Youngman and Lofalk got a bloody nose and had to look for something different. Not clever, to say the least.

Yesterday we had some discussion here that it could be possible to continue Saab without the GM licenses by putting all bets on the Phoenix and a new lineup – I’ll leave that one out here because I think that this will be too expensive for Pang Da and Youngman and will cause too much damage regarding dealer network and customer confidence.

So, following my personal analysis the most likely scenario would be that Swedish Automobile remains to be the parent for Saab and the Chinese buy a stake in SWAN. My guess is that to get the okay from GM this will not be higher than 20-25%. This is a major setback for Pang Da and Youngman and they will most likely not invest as much money as they had planned in 100% ownership.

But where should the rest of the money that is needed come from? The current owners of SWAN have nothing more to give so there is a need for another party to join the table. Most likely some pure investor, as another car company on the table would be rather difficult in negotiations. They get a stake in SWAN, too, in a height that reflects the amount they are willing to invest.

A fear in such a setup may be that too many owners cause too many discussions about leadership. Of course I would prefer a deal that is similar to the Tata/Land Rover and Jaguar constellation, but we’re not in a position to be picky now. A big benefit would be that most likely none of the investors would have to go to their financial limits to get things done. That would bring in more stability if all involved agree to take the same path so that all of them can benefit from their investment in Saab. As we’ve seen from Geely’s latest financial crunch, even the biggest Chinese players aren’t free from all financial strain.

My hope is that Guy Lofalk, who seemed to be pretty focused on China, has his eyes open for opportunities that arise and is willing to adapt the plan to the needs. Same for Pang Da and Youngman – even if they have to accept a major setback in their plans I hope they stay on board to explore the opportunities they still have with Saab. When it comes to the NDRC I can imagine that they will agree to a deal like that as they have some interest in saving the investments already made. The biggest hurdle is GM, but there is a way to solve that if all act together and keep their focus on the common aim.

michaelb
Member
4 years 10 months ago
What you are suggesting does not sound good at all. Who would invest huge amounts of money needed with such a complex structure and without having the full saying? I don’t see why GM should not accept higher participation by the Chinese companies. GM has just to make sure, that its IP will be truly protected in real life. And then you think it is this guy Lofalk’s task to find such a majority partner, and just an investor. Up to now he has done quite some damage in his initial exploratory mission. And the NDRC will accept all that?… Read more »
derek
Member
4 years 10 months ago
guess is that to get the okay from GM this will not be higher than 20-25%. This is a major setback for Pang Da and Youngman and they will most likely not invest as much money as they had planned in 100% ownership. Perhaps 25% with the right of first refusal to buy the remaining 75% in 2021 at a predetermined low price. That way the technology will be 15 years old or more. If the predetermined price is low, it is like paying for nearly all of the company now with the promise that it will get the rest… Read more »
quickbird
Member
4 years 10 months ago

Yeap, perhaps this is a way to go. 2021 is a little far from now. I think 5 years from now would be enough. In this 5 years, Saab try to phase out GM IP and develops its own technology. With SAAB brilliant R&D staffs, I think Saab can do that.

Zizou
Member
4 years 10 months ago

+1
That would be the only logical solution for me too…

Troels, Denmark
Member
4 years 10 months ago

++ I agree – sounds logic. 4 or 5 years will be sufficeint for Saab to get rid of the GM-tech (and design-reminiscences!)

aop
Member
4 years 10 months ago
GM made it clear they will never accept the deal with 100% Chinese ownership, everything else is to be negotiated I guess. VM said the original deal of June is off the table so it may be that 54% is too much but perhaps 49% will do. In wich case the investment will not lower drastically. The Chinese have invested some money already in SAAB and they should try not to loose their investments, therefore they should agree to the new deal. My only concern is Guy Lofalk…I hope he realized his mistakes and he will change his methods and… Read more »
Tripod
Member
4 years 10 months ago
In the notes that became public after the EGM of shareholders in Swan, the other week, it was mentioned a little about the MOU (latest that is); it was said that the purchase price, 100 MEUR, was to be paid as: 50 MEUR upon completion of the sale, and four instalments of 12.5 MEUR, “payable on the first, second, third and fourth anniversary of completion of the sale”. Now, the MOU is now moot, we know that, but still this information has not been commented. This was for a 100% purchase, and of course they had planned to invest in… Read more »
Snowshoe
Member
4 years 10 months ago

A bit off topic but the people running their facebook wall have noticed the “input” and have cleaned house. Only GM post survived.
I made a test and it was still possible to post but the entry is removed after a few minutes. But the photo is still there under photos. So I printed to pdf and the result is 30+ pages with boxes representing the photos.
This adds up to about 800 Saab photos

quickbird
Member
4 years 10 months ago

Perhaps the GM IT technician finally get permission from higher management to clear the house. All the SAAB posts are already there for two days, they just clear them half hour ago…

Snowshoe
Member
4 years 10 months ago

I don’t know if it is a view filter or if it is a full removal.
But I think that the GM car owners cannot post either, I did not see any other posts than from GM. It is possible to reply to a GM post though (but no photo I think)

quickbird
Member
4 years 10 months ago

I think it is a view filter. If you click on the pic you posted, it is still there. Just cannot find it in GM facebook.

Snowshoe
Member
4 years 10 months ago

The posts can be seen under the “GM Now” button on the left.
This shows a somewhat limited view of the log.

So continue posting if you would like to show your nice car. It is a GM car after all 🙂 At least that is what they claim dont they…..

AJ Murphy
Member
4 years 10 months ago

At the top of the wall posts, there’s an option for “GM Only” wall posts which shows only GM’s posts. Next to that “Everyone (most recent)”. They’re still there. Likely they just changed the default view.

Snowshoe
Member
4 years 10 months ago

Now they seem to have changed back again. Old posts are viewable again.
I guess that some of the responsible guys realized that it is better to let this run its course rather than to block it.

Saabheart
Member
4 years 10 months ago
GM never wanted Saab to live and now they’re pissed that Saab is still alive, and pissed at us because we won’t go away. I don’t think they are going to let a deal go through. There is nothing in it for them. Any waves made in automotive news will dissipate in a month and nobody will remember GM’s dick moves. It’s all about money and letting a deal go through with Saab doesn’t mean anything necessarily bad for GM but nothing good either so they’ll just block it like they did the first time, except this time Saab is… Read more »
Grumpy
Member
4 years 10 months ago

GM’s goal with selling rather than closing the brand by themselves, at least to me, was to minimize liability for parts supply as well as avoid any claims by dealers for not keeping the brand, particularly in the US.

In spyker they found the perfect scape goat in Spyker. Too small to really build something of what was left and thereby setting themselves up for closure. GM can now walk away and they don’t have to count the lost opportunity ‘costs’ for not supplying cars or parts. All very neat and good for the GM share holders. IMHO. 🙁

Turbine
Member
4 years 10 months ago

If the chinese are reducing investment from 100% to a sub 50% – which other party is coming in with the money?? Will the chinese accept a less than controlling stake ???? Seems too late in the day- unless swedish govt prepared to step in ??

Trued
Member
4 years 10 months ago

Asians never loose their face. I bet this could be an issue here. Having proclaimed a 100% buy and having to possibly step back to 20-25%, that would be to loose face.

Tripod
Member
4 years 10 months ago

If that is a concern then they’d better try to avoid entering such situations in the first place.

Toby K
Member
4 years 10 months ago
The idea that the sale is agreed to a Chinese company (whatever the stake and subsequent IP risk) on a slow burn basis-eg “Don’t use the technology in China until Saab is GM IP clear” is an odd one-but it might just work. Saab and PangDa could for whatever the term is (until say 2014) cncentrate on ramping up sales across existing markets, the could develop Saab (non GM IP and build plants in China for the ng9-3 and other new cars)…it wuld extend their time to profit but surely they need recvery time and breakaway time from GM. all… Read more »
Snowshoe
Member
4 years 10 months ago
I you excuse I take the liberty to re-post a comment that I posted in the Phoenix thread but got no response on. How far off do you think my mad up numbers are? —– Money talks! And letting Saab continue to produce cars with the GM platforms should be real money even for GM. Let’s make up an example. The license for each car is at no cost for GM so that goes straight into their pockets. GM will also continue to sell components to Saab at a profit. So how much money can GM get for this? Just… Read more »
moose
Member
4 years 10 months ago
@till72 In my opinion the first approach to GM consisted of a deal that made it easy for them to give a plain “no”. The original plan with 54% Chinese ownership had given more room for talks on that plan. Instead Pang Da, Youngman and Lofalk got a bloody nose and had to look for something different. Not clever, to say the least. When GM said no the the 100% deal the SaabsUnited crew stance was “This is because Lofalk changed the 54% deal to 100% deal, even if VM said that 100% deal would not work“. When it was… Read more »
saabyurk
Member
4 years 10 months ago

+1, and my gut feeling is that Lofalk is really trying hard for a successful outcome.

Jeff
Member
4 years 10 months ago

Moose, pretty simple here. 54% had been known for a long, long time. It was a starting point for negotiations with GM is all Till is saying now. For all those months, GM never raised an objection. Only days after the 100% deal was announced, GM announced their intention to block it. In my phone call to GM’s spokesman, he specifically said a full ownership change is what GM objected to. Clearly, as in any negotiation, the writing is on the wall here. That your blind to it isn’t Till’s problem to clarify for you.

Jepp
Member
4 years 10 months ago

GM has also said that they don’t comment anything than just a 100%-deal. So you can’t draw any conclusions from their comment and apply it to any other possible deal.

We do not know what they would have thought about a 54% deal. We only have VM:s word that 54% would have been easier but i was still a subject of approval from GM.

scand
Member
4 years 10 months ago

@jeff.

Just because the 54% deal ‘was out there for a long time’ doesn’t necessarily mean GM would have agreed to it, AFAIK they are not on record as saying yes..or no to that deal. Maybe they were waiting to see if it actually got close to happening or not.

If VM knew a 100% deal was a non starter going into the negotiating room, it beats me why he even signed an MOU on such a deal. Seems like a monumental waste of time.

Khrisdk
Member
4 years 10 months ago

More like a monumental gain of time.

Henrik C
Guest
4 years 10 months ago
@scand Clearly u can see his stance—a VM fan. It is GM, PDYM, Lofalk and Chinese to blame whenever there is a drama. Fight back to any disagreement, based on one side of the story, always. Typical Jeff. PS: I like Till’s posts though:) Hey JH, just for the record, I’m referencing GM’s own spokesman here 😉 I had a nice lengthy conversation with him about the subject, and actually found their arguments completely sound. I haven’t been anti-GM at all, in fact I agree with them. When we’re actually allowed to share all the crazy stories of what happened… Read more »
JasonPowell
Member
4 years 10 months ago

“Fight back to any disagreement, based on one side of the story, always. Typical Jeff.”

I must be missing something here, Jeff referenced a call that he personally made to GM.

“In my phone call to GM’s spokesman, he specifically said a full ownership change is what GM objected to.”

I’m not following how this is one side of the story. GM is not difficult to get a hold of, call them for yourself. The spokesman at GM stated what they objected to, not SWAN or anyone else, so not really one side of the story.

Henrik C
Guest
4 years 10 months ago

I was talking about the 54% thing. Did GM say “it’s off the table”?

Can VM’s word be the full story?

And if the MOU was signed for buy time, should I say VM has played all the creditors and counterparites around?

Khrisdk
Member
4 years 10 months ago

No you shouldn’t really:

The MoU was signed “Pending approval from all relevant parties”. Everyone knew that.

Regarding the 54% deal is off the table VM’s statement is the only one.
If you doubt it, I would recommend asking that question to GM.

Henrik C
Guest
4 years 10 months ago

But VM knew what GM would do following the trasfer of ownership. He knew it since Jan 2010.

And I doubt it because someone repeatedly said the 54% would work or not, without GM’s word.

Tripod
Member
4 years 10 months ago
scand, Just because the 54% deal ‘was out there for a long time’ doesn’t necessarily mean GM would have agreed to it […] Maybe they were waiting to see if it actually got close to happening or not. Well, it (the 54% of Swan deal) certainly got closer than the 100% of Saab MOU that they quite quickly said no to. The 54% deal started with a non-binding MOU, in June, and was converted to binding agreements in July (pending approvals; NDRC, EIB, GM etc.). That was way closer than a fresh MOU about 100% of Saab, wasn’t it? I… Read more »
moose
Member
4 years 10 months ago
So let me get this straight – you are telling that GM, a company which is renowned (and cursed) for making decisions on purely on business reasons, got (for some inexplicable reason) pissed because Youngman/Pangda wanted to take over the company 100%. Did I get this right? I’m just asking because last time I checked GM was only interested in money, market control and their IPR. You yourself wrote “ [GM has never had] any ill will towards Saab, it’s been all about securing their own intellectual property“. And since you brought up the your interview with the GM’s spokesperson… Read more »
Jeff
Member
4 years 10 months ago

In the end moose, I’m not terribly worried about whether or not you buy what we say or not. We source our info directly from the parties involved, including third parties negotiating alongside the deal. When they independently corroborate each other, we know there’s truth, or else we don’t report it. What you choose to believe is your business, not mine.

moose
Member
4 years 10 months ago

And the “I know more than you do!”-card has been played! Again… You are not really used to handling confidential information, are you?

BTW: Taking in to account that you “know more than we do” you have had an amazing miss rate with your “I’m telling you”-predictions…

Tripod
Member
4 years 10 months ago

moose,
You’re quite cocky yourself…

aop
Member
4 years 10 months ago
54% deal in SWAN (and not SAAB) could have worked with GM. If Guy Lofalk wouldn’t have gone to China to speak with Geely and blow everything up. Put yourself in YPD shoes for a moment when this broke in the news ! They must have pushed for the 100% deal at that time then. Do you remember the weird statement of Anders Berg just before the reconstruction appeal ? It was something like – “If they will enter the reconstruction, we will step in to pay the salaries … and in the end you will see who will own… Read more »
Yerrun
Member
4 years 10 months ago

I know we’ve been complaining a lot about GM so this might sound like an evil plan.
BUT:
Has anyone ever considered GM as an owner of Saab again? The US goverment took away all the debts so they’re quite “healty” again. If they would take a 54% stake in SWAN now and decrease this every year with 10 to 20% and let PD-YM increase accordingly to 54%. By that time, the GM platform is outdated anyway and instead Phoenix will take over at SAAB.

quickbird
Member
4 years 10 months ago

I don’t think GM want to jump into the water once again.

paddan
Member
4 years 10 months ago
I don’t think GM will do it but the thought crossed my mind too. Let me say this: the GM developed Saabs lost their personality, but the cars were much better executed than the pre-GM Saabs. I say this from the standpoint of having owned Saabs for 31 years of every platform (96, 99, 900, 9000 NG 900, 9-5 and 9-3); some of the 99s I owned were but a few years old when I bought them and I can say that the GM cars were much more reliable. And there likely would not have been any Saab in the… Read more »
scand
Member
4 years 10 months ago

I have mentioned the same sentiment. Instead of “GM, Let Saab go” it maybe should be “GM take us back !”

Khrisdk
Member
4 years 10 months ago

Yes..Better the devil you know.
I don’t really think they are interested though..
But they might be interested in taking over Saab Powertrain

Khrisdk
Member
4 years 10 months ago

Oh forgot the smileys:
Place at will:
😉 😀 🙁

74StingSaab
Member
4 years 10 months ago

Id have to agree that Saab could be much better off with GM than without. Maybe the activity over the last few years opened their eyes to what Saab COULD be…

saaburban
Member
4 years 10 months ago

All that Saab has of value is:
– the Phoenix platform
– a 60y old European brand w global recognition.
– a few 100 dedicated dealers
– R&D organization
– production capacity
– 3 current models: 9-3,9-4,9-5

And……

– a major debt to it’s suppliers.
– Complicated GM relationship
– Tarnished consumer confidence
– In need of huge investments

The million dollar questions are how long does it take to get back the investment, and how much profit will this investment give, and finally how big is the risk?!

hogge
Member
4 years 10 months ago

I’m asking my question again, hoping it’ll get a qualified answer:
Is it possible for Saab to import the BAW cars which are based off Saabs? If I’m not misstaken, one of the cars is based off the current 9-3. That would mean that worst case scenario would be that Saab would drop the 9-5 and 9-4X. And perhaps start selling the old 9-5 again, perhaps rebadged as a “9-4”. If it sells badly, no harm done as Saab haven’t developed anything new or adjusted the assembly line in any way.

Toby K
Member
4 years 10 months ago
It is possible..and because BAIC have BOUGHT not justg been licensed to use those tools then Saab could potentially uild under license using those patterns with BAIC permission-GM free. However there are similar inhibitors to this idea 1) yet another complex licesning structure from another automotive giant 2) time-it would be another 2 years to reffit and face lift the cars re tool THN etc 3) Money -there isn’t any 4) how likely is BAIC to do such a deal when it knows a GM free Saab will compete directly with it in China? It was something I had already… Read more »
hogge
Member
4 years 10 months ago

Then why not just buy the BAW cars and sell them here with the most basic form of badge engineering…

ivo 71
Member
4 years 10 months ago

Because, in all probability, they couldn’t be sold in Saab’s remaining traditional markets in numbers sufficient to make a difference. Would you buy a Chinese-built old-model Saab with Chinese-made components in and (Chinese-made?) Saab badges on it? I don’t think I would.

Ivo

hogge
Member
4 years 10 months ago

Well, the thing is that they’re building the CURRENT 9-3, so the only change would be that you can’t put a “Made in Trollhättan by trolls” sticker on it, and it’d have a somewhat different styling.
And of course it would make a difference. Even if Saab would sell them at the smallest possible margin, they’d still have a small income, reducing their losses until the new models would come out. Also, it’d help restore Saabs reputation early.

zippy
Member
4 years 10 months ago

How is the 2002-2007 9-3 platform any different to the current model? I thought it was a nose job and a butt lift that differentiated the two? If they arent any different then the Chinese via BAIC have the tech already so whats the big deal?

Bravada from GMI
Member
4 years 10 months ago
Apart from the BAIC deal (which was selling for pennies to the dollar IMHO, but whatever), I do believe that the issue is that GM doesn’t want a Chinese-built Saab 9-5 or a related car to show up in China next to the SAIC-built LaCrosse, Regal and XTS. With a deal they have with Saab now, this is quite sure. With a deal in which the Chinese take 100%, it might happen that the 9-5 will trickle down to China, as the Chinese might find a more or less legitimate loophole in the contract. Since the Chinese assembly was to… Read more »
Grumpy
Member
4 years 10 months ago
I have a hard time believing that competition from Saab would be an issue for SAIC or GM in China. If it was why haven’t they provided for that in the contract with SWAN? Saab could have put all eggs in one basket last year and gone all in on a China strategy to sell, say, 50,000 cars per year and GM could have done nothing about it. Technology can be copied in a snap especially in China. Reverse engineering can be costly but it is usually cheaper than developing your own. Just copying is even cheaper. Nah GM’s motivation… Read more »
michaelb
Member
4 years 10 months ago

Given Chinese built Saab 9-5 sales only to arrive 2014 ff, it is ridiculous to believe, the current 9-5 will be any form of important competitor for GM-built cars in the current lifecycle. The important competitors will be German, Japanese, eventually Koreans plus Volvo/Geely. To protect lP legitimately is one thing, to be paranoid another thing.

UWb
Member
4 years 10 months ago
This might come a little late in the discussions, but anyhow. 1. No sound from NDRC has been heard. Knowing that Youngman (seems to) have good contact with the Government, the quote from Mr. Pang Qinghua might reveal the status. He would not go out with such a quote and come to Sweden, if he not had the support from NDRC. This is at least my belief. 2. It has in this thread and others been made calculations and most if not all of them clearly shows that there is an economical benefit from GM if SAAB can make it… Read more »
ivo 71
Member
4 years 10 months ago

Another potential bone of contention for GM may be the car market in India. GM don’t do a lot of selling there yet but must be aware of the potential and, therefore, working on establishing a serious footprint there. If the Chinese can develop competitive Saab models that would be interesting for India in terms of quality, exclusivity and value for money and produce and sell those in significant numbers then that may well constitute a situation GM would want to prevent at almost all cost and explain their current attitude towards Saab.

Ivo

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