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GM: Please Approve Saab’s Deal

December 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

As if you didn’t figure out by now, this would be the appropriate time to politely lobby GM to please approve this deal (or at least counter with an acceptable revision). Not that anyone needed reminding, their Facebook wall has been flooded for weeks.

You know where to go.

66 responses to GM: Please Approve Saab’s Deal

  1. Done. I wrote “GM – Please respect Saab and approve a deal which makes them survive. They really deserve that!”. I also uploaded a photo of a really nice Pearl White 9-4X Aero I took at the Saab Spring Show (Saab Vårsalong) in April this year. I want to be able to buy such a car one day! :)

    I wonder what GM’s reaction is to all these posts at their Facebook page. Almost everything you see on their wall has to do with Saab. ;)

  2. Done…again.

  3. Done! (Using the Mrs’ Facebook account)

  4. Done………….

  5. Nicely said Jeff.

  6. Jeff, is the new 3rd party more significantly more substantial that Spyker?

  7. Jeff: you may not be able to say who, or how much, but you can give us a sense of what you know, I’m sure; when that is proved right by events, your credibility will be cemented. You give us so little to go on that we can’t judge whether, after the event, you knew anything at all or not. In consequence, it is clear that many here simply don’t accept your word / opinion on things – after all, it is easy to say ‘I know, but I’m not going to tell you’ and then, after the event, say ‘yes, that’s what I knew’.To use that uncertain platform to base a call to arms seems a little optimistic.

    In this case, what are you asking us to support? There have been countless appeals – ‘approve Vladimir’, for instance – but at least we knew and could judge for ourselves whether our support was justified. I’m afraid I’m not going to blindly put my name to supporting something which might be counter to good sense.

    To mis-quote you, as if you didn’t figure out by now, this would be the appropriate time to explain a little more about what you claim you know so that the grown-ups can decide whether to support it or not.

    • There’s a push and pull here, basically what I’m allowed to say without pissing people off. I’d much rather keep my contacts after a successful deal in tact rather than violate their trust just for a few people here’s satisfaction. All I can reveal that’s helpful to anyone is that it’s not a final document but a framework that is set up to feel out an acceptable ownership structure, it’s by no means the final agreement. In other words, the lawyers will still have a lot of ironing out to do and approvals to sign if it’s green lighted. Also, as I hinted in comments yesterday, Pang Da and Youngman are not singular at all at this point. Pang Da bowed out earlier last weekend, leaving Youngman as the last entity left willing to fund the company. The amount Youngman has dumped into the company at this point is not in the single millions, but in the tens. The fact that there’s even a deal submitted with their ownership level under 20% in itself is cause for celebration. We’ve been pretty clear on an ownership structure with a third party being essential for the deal for weeks now even when we were being shouted at in comments for being skeptical in 100% Chinese ownership. The deal is the work of Victor’s team and Rachel Pang completely, and even though Guy Lofalk has been on his own course the last week, hopefully he was able to put some pressure on more than just Arturo Elias in GM’s Public Policy department.

      This truly is the last offer before bankruptcy though, in which case the Saab we know goes away. If anyone says no at this point, there’s hardly any chance for Saab to go on. As far as showing your support for Saab, do what you feel comfortable doing.

      • Jeff, thank you – sometimes hinting and being explicit are 2 different things. I understand the need not to burn sources, but, as you say, there’s a balance.

        Re PangDa, I understand the concern at losing them but, equally, isn’t it true that Saab still have a valid distributorship agreement with PangDa for China regardless of the outcome of this transaction? If so, PangDa can still sell Saabs in China. Or do I have that wrong?

        Assuming that any third party involved in this deal has sufficient interest and financing to help to make the whole deal work for more than a few months, I see the sense in supporting this now. Thank you.

        • I asked the same question, whether or not Pang Da is involved after this deal is immaterial to a deal that at least allows Saab to even exist in a month. As such I didn’t get an answer whether or not they’d be involved in selling the cars in China. Most likely I’d assume it would go through the Youngman channels, and I couldn’t even tell you what the Chinese production picture even looks like in this deal, though a JV is part of it. It’s possible that it doesn’t even exist for a few years until the GM tech is out of the picture and a completely GM-free Phoenix is finished.

    • +1

      I’m not gonna go public and promoting something that I don’t know anything about!

      For instance; I think that it is a really poor idea to leave Pang Da out of this. Youngman want to build cars of their own – buying Saab is a shortcut to better technology and that is what GM is afraid of. And being bought by somebody who want to build cars of their own will not help Saab sell cars. Being bought by a company who lives of actually selling the cars is brilliant and exactly what Saab needs (except money).

      And bringing in some American venture capital firm will not help Saab in the long run. They are usually very good at “putting makeup at the pig” so that they can make some quick cash.

      But this is just my speculations – but this might also be the truth and therefor I will not support anything until i know what it is.

      • Ok, I can clarify this.

        Saab need stability financially but also from an owner perspective. Being overtaken 100% by Youngman and Pang Da would have provided that – we would have had somebody who wanted to sell lots of Saab cars and we would have had somebody who where interested in Saab providing reusable and scalable technology solutions. Excellent! I would have been satisfied and would have replaced our 9-3 SC from 2010 with a new 9-5 SC in approximately 6 months.

        But, keeping SWAN and bringing in Youngman and a American venture capitalism firm might create a mess with several strong forces with possibly different goals for Saab. I would have a hard time seeing how that could succeed. And from the publics point of view I think that VM have to go because (I’m not saying that he have done anything wrong) there have been some much bad publicity around him so I don’t think that the customers in Saabs largets market, Sweden, have any confidence in him. And the question is if the suppliers have faith in such a constellation. That I would around 350-400 kSEK of our private money a new Saab is not likely.

        So, that is why I need more details to be able to support something like this. Sorry…

      • Remember the approve Antonov campaign here in SU. In hindsight, a mistake. As Patrik B is writing correctly, there is no way to lead a campaign for a deal or an ownership structure, where we do not know just the basics or essentials.
        Same point with regards to VM, he simply must be out of visibility within a new ownership structure. As opposed to PatrickB I would argue, he is a miserable entrepreneur, as you can see from the long term chart of Spyker / Swan shares. They have lost almost 100% over 10 years, no way to keep him – the acting CEO – in a decisionmaker role. And then this years catastrophic track record at Swan. Confidence into the new structure would be zero from key stakeholders, if he would stay in an important role. It would be simply a non-starter.
        Finally, big worries as well, why PangDa retired. They met their promises.
        To me, there must be much more meat, and the argument about confidence and trust is right, but then forget any support campaign.

        • Clarify. Had VA been approved in April, Saab would have been producing cars for almost this whole year (minus April). The aftermath of a potential future conviction of VA would be infinitely much easier to deal with than going a year without production!

          • I know that VA haven’t been found guilt of the charges but he is facing some serious acquisitions, so;

            Apparently VA didn’t have the $$$ needed to save Saab as he (might have) looted one of his banks to get some cash to inject into Saab via VM. So you are saying that we should have let VA into Saab in the beginning of the so that he could inject even more money taken from his banks? Is that how we want to build the company?

            Not me…

          • Rune, I disagree. If VA had been allowed in, and if his source of cash was the 2 Baltic banks, Saab would still have been cash flow negative till the point that those banks folded , and its possible they would have folded that much earlier, if he took the kind of money out, that was needed to fund Saab.

            Therefore, once those banks went, so would have Saab. (judging by how quick convers sports initiatives went into administration)

            From saabs brand standpoint, better to be clean and broke than directly tainted from the alleged things he is accused of…..and still broke.

            A mountain to climb, either way.

            • There are a couple of If’s that are very dependent on the legal proceedings that has not yet begun.
              Actually your entire first paragraph.

              But you are correct, that IF the banks went and IF Saab was solely financed by them, yes, Saab would be gone

              That leaves the mountain to climb when leaving out the IF’s

              Which is probably correct

            • Back in April, Saab needed a little nudge to get production going again. With continued growth they would not have needed further financing. And presumably, it would had been easier to borrow money for short-term financing once they had demonstrated that they were heading towards profitability.

              Everything beats a year of non-production.

        • I think you’re blinded by hate against VM and fail to acknowladge one simple thing : SAAB already had a loaded owner – car manufacturer for the past 20 years who could have made all what you’re writing here. They didn’t though. What would make you think that if GM didn’t, someone else will do it?
          Let’s look at few other examples Skoda , Seat, Nissan etc They’ve all been treated the same way SAAB was treated by GM – Low end brands.
          VM has the vision to make SAAB a great independent car company.,

        • I get what you’re all saying, but this is really, really simple: No deal = Saab bankruptcy. Do you understand what happens in a bankruptcy? Pang Da quit for several reasons, least of which because GM wouldn’t accept their offer and they weren’t willing to revise it, more so because they’re having their own liquidity issues.

      • Interesting.

        At this moment I don’t have a problem promoting anything that saves Saab, even if it was only for a couple of months. In October, not knowing every little detail of the future of Saab didn’t affect my choice of vehicle, and it wouldn’t do it now either.

        But I guess it’s OK to think different. :)

        • It is all about trust. The 1½ year old 9-3 we are driving will have a steady supply of spare parts in the future. The 9-5 have been produced in limited series and any spare parts might have limited supply and could probably be very expensive.

          And if I make the judgment that I don’t trust the new owners – then I can’t take the families money to buy a new car for €40 000/$50 000 that might run out of spare parts. Then we will stick with the 9-3.

  8. Wow… we’ve really occupied their Facebook — I keep clicking “show older posts” and all I see is SAAB SAAB SAAB. Grassroots is a thing of beauty.

    • I really don’t see what is so wonderful about telling the world that you support something when you don’t know what it is! We’re apparently asking for GM to ‘approve’ something, but what? It is a bit silly, and doesn’t, in all honesty, seem to do credit to the Saab enthusiasts.

      • We have a pretty good idea of what it is. You can find out here: http://goo.gl/7ENQf

        Why would you take the side AGAINST saving a company with a 60+ year heritage and thousands of employees, and millions of passionate customers?

        • Some people just like to argue just for the sake of arguing :-)

          And yes, all of us that have been keeping close eyes on the situation have a *very* good idea the type of agreement that is being proposed. So yes, keep up the positive GM Facebook posts!

          • Not just trying to argue, no, and Jeff has kindly replied to my earlier comment on the same topic. My concern, for the record, is that if if the Saab fans seem like idiots for supporting something they don’t even know about, their usefulness and credibility is diminished.

  9. What I don’t understand is there has been very little media coverage about Saab enthusiasts “occupying” the GM Facebook page. Does this mean nothing to the rest of the world? I’m amazed that any social community can go on this long for a cause. I’m even more amazed by the lack of media attention this is getting.

  10. Showed my good will on the GM Facebook page. If there’s a long line of only Saab related requests, of course it does something. Logically, GM says no to a 100% ownership of one party, while their demands are about 20%. Now there’s a new combination possible: the Saab management knows that if they propose a ridiculous deal (or: very unlikely to succeed) they have made an instant grave. So my guess is that they create the most unlikely situation in their powers for GM to say no. Fingers crossed then.. would the American investing party from NY (as I recall, I could be wrong) have anything to do with this, now Antonov is out of the picture?

  11. May not to hurt to request support on Buick’s and Cadillac’s page as well…

  12. Wow! Some of you sure have taken a 180 degree turn around on supporting who saves SAAB! If you have the money then make an offer!
    it’s not up to us to decide what is right for SAAB and there is a whole lot more riding on this deal than a few hundred opinions! 1000′s of jobs are on the line, possibly a few more businesses will also fail if SAAB does.

    Jeff and anyone else doesn’t need to divulge information he or they hold in confidence, for you to decide if 60 plus years of a company or the 1000′s of jobs are worth your support?

    Call me crazy, but if it wasn’t for VM, SAAB would have died over a year ago along with the above 1000′s of jobs! He also wouldn’t make a deal he wouldn’t believe would ultimately SAVE SAAB. I’m for whatever saves SAAB and above all, those jobs of people just like you and I who have families and bills to pay!

    God Speed to VM and the deal to SAVE SAAB!
    My 2 Cents Worth.

  13. Can we start calling GM corporate offices as well on Monday?
    GM Corporate Phone Number: 1-313-556-5000 (from Google, cannot find one on their website)

  14. My view on that is quite clear. II will not post anything on GM Facebook site for only one reason, and this is that I don’t have a fb-account because I don’t trust fb, otherwise I would politely ask GM to approve this deal.

    I don’t know that much about this deal, and I can’t tell if this is the best deal for Saab, so I have to trust Jeff, knowing that this deal and bankruptcy are the only to possibilities for Saab.

    So if you think that Saab has to die with dignity, whatever that means, stay in the background and wait, maybe you achieve just that, otherwise if you want that Saab gets another opportunity to move along and show the world that there is live beyond Toyota and VW, please do support this deal.

    This time is black or white and there is no space for shades of grey. Do what you think is best for Saab, but don’t tell us afterwards:I didn’t know this could happen. if the result is not what you are hopping for.

  15. I’ve now posted upon the wall. In case anyone is even remotely interested, this is mine:

    To those at GM, first, thank you for keeping the Saab flame alive for so many years, for investing in such splendid facilities in Sweden, for employing so many talented Swedish engineers, for permitting a post-GM Saab to have a chance with Spyker.

    As you’ve learned, as so many of us have learned, involvement with Saab is seldom simple or straightforward, but it is the community around it which makes it so much more than a simple brand.

    I don’t know enough about ‘the deal’ to be able to say that it meets all of the objectives of all of the participants. What I do know is that it is possible to construct deals in general which protect the interests of all parties, and which achieve goals wider than simple economics: social benefit, CSR, maintenance of employment, preservation of history, enhancement of reputation, and so on.

    Saab is a beacon as much as anything else. With the right deal, I believe you, GM, can profit from your stake and historical investment, embracing the emerging trends of looser associations and supply deals which seem in some areas to be eclipsing, or at least rivalling, more traditional models of mass manufacture on a grand scale.

    If BMW can supply engines and not feel threatened by the competition, I feel confident that you, GM, can find a way to reconcile the desire of so many to keep the Saab flame burning a while longer with the need to protect your own interests.

    For all of those reasons, and more, I ask you, simply, to allow Saab this opportunity – this last opportunity, it seems – to survive and inspire new generations of loyal devotees, people who can look back upon GM kindly for their contributions rather than critically for their administration of the coup de grace.

    To quote Yeats: “Tread softly because you tread on my dreams”. Please tread softly and choose the path you tread kindly. Let Saab live to fly another day.

  16. Who is Jack Smith and why is he responding to many facebook comments in a seemingly negative tone?

    BTW, I don’t know anything about how to use facebook. What is the next best way to do this?

    • Facebook is simple, You can create an account in a few minutes. You don’t have to publish much more about yourself there than you do here, You should put in a photo or any other avatar to make it more credible though. If nothing else I can tell you that it is a nice sight to see all these saab photos on the GM page.

  17. This may be very naive of me to say (and overly optimistic), but if all it took to buy Saab was someone who has the cash and who is not chinese, why aren’t more people interested?

    The price was 130 million or something, right? Is that all, no other money to front, no past bills? There are a LOT of companies sitting on a LOT of cash out there, especially in America where they keep it oversees to sidestep paying taxes.

    It’s a great investment, an even better PR story, you have solid orders from the Chinese, wonderful future products in the pipeline and some of the best workers in the world.

    Now you might be saying what American company would want to get into car manufacturing, which sure, is a good question. But what if it was an environmental company that had an interest in cars? Building fuel-efficient cars could be one division.

    Or for that matter, why couldn’t an (extremely) rich individual who loves cars buy Saab? (Think Paul Allen) Just a thought.

    • I’d like the to think it is possible to be a Saab enthusiast, and still have a real discussion about business. Saab (autos) has lost money for decades. GM lost over a billion. While many will point out that GM didn’t “get” Saab (which is really true), prior to that under partial and total Swedish ownership that perhaps did “get” Saab, it lost money then too.

      Under small company Spyker, Saab ran out of money in a year.

      It is difficult to call Saab an investment in the classic sense. But there is something magical about Saab, and that product passion may find an investor like you describe. Based on the sketchy details provided here, it unfortunately sounds like the new investor is the VC company that has been often mentioned in recent months on SU.

      I hope that’s not the case, because if it is, as we say down south, “that dog won’t hunt.” Neither GM or EIB is going to get into bed with another entity that can’t fund Saab. It’s pointless. We’d be back here in months, maybe a year, with new bankruptcy drama. More drama, more calls to spam GM’s facebook page.

      I hope the company that can’t be mentioned is real and substantial. But if they were, well, they wouldn’t be unnamed. And here we are.

      • Hipchecker, Keith’s answer gets to the main points, although I really don’t believe GM lost as much as they say (various accounting tricks, like apparently putting the failed Cadillac BLS on Saab’s books, for example).

        As I’ve pointed out many times, the reason why some wealthy non-Chinese company or individual doesn’t pony-up the money to buy a clearly discounted Saab isn’t the purchase price (a rounding error amount for many, even many celebrities), but the amount of money needed to invest to build back up the dealer network and design the future, well, everything (9-3, 9-4, 9-5). That number, plus the operating losses along the way, will number in the many *billions*. THAT’S what keeps people away. The only entities that will be interested in Saab will be those looking to get in on an existing international automotive operation on the cheap, and THAT will only be developing nations’ industries (read: China, India, and Brazil).

        The ONLY way that makes sense for those industries is if they buy Saab and transform it into a system that works for them. There seems to be a fantasy here that some entity will buy Saab and “leave them alone” to do work Trollhattan magic. Not gonna happen… Business as usual is losing a LOT of money.

        There are lots of not-perfect or non-functinoal elements of Saab that seem like they’re ready for some house-cleaning:

        - Workers: I, as a Saab fan, feel like Saab is waaay to low-wattage an organization. Where’s the hunger? Where’s the crazy ideas and fighting spirit? Save for Swade and fan clubs, I don’t and have never felt that from Saab at all… You read cries of “complacency” when you hear discussion of Saab operations in NA, UK, and Spain. US dealers I’ve talked with spit nothing but bile about Saab NA. No, we have to discard the warm and fuzzy Saab worker story to demand some action and accountability…

        - Marketing: Clearly broken in all phases, will need to be cleared out…

        - Finance: Saab will need to build cars elsewhere. All successful automakers build regional plants around the world to protect themselves from strong European currencies and various fluctuations. Even VW built a plant in the US. It’s necessary… Get used to non-Swedish Saabs not as an exception (9-4) but the future.

        And lots, lots more… But that’s the basic idea repeated again, and again, and again…

      • Geez, I was just trying to get a discussion going. No need to insult. :(

  18. Interesting; soon we will know if GM is our ‘friend or foe’ …,
    and if some people will ever buy a GM product again in the future..

    Btw; would Bombardier still be interested in Saab..?
    http://www.bombardier.com/
    Probably not, but would be great in a ‘perfect world’…

  19. If this works, it sounds huge to me

  20. The first international bank that comes to mind, because of their previous involvement in Saab, is… Deutsche Bank!

  21. There were some rumours about DB in the early phase of the deal back in June-July if i remember correctly.

  22. I’ve got to say that in this case, I’m a little cynical about any activism on the part of the Saab community. It’s not going to affect the deal in any way. Both polite and nasty posts on the Facebook site or in letters to GM will be ignored. This is not something that can shame GM in the public’s mind; Saab is already dead. And to think that GM will ditch a deal because someone insults them is poppycock. GM will, or will not make a deal, purely on the basis of their own interests however they perceive them. They’re certain to look at the value of their shares in Saab, the value of engineering that Saab can contribute to GM in the future, the value of selling the 9-4 to Saab, the value of selling engines and parts to Saab, the protection of their IP, the competition in China of Saab with GM, the legal framework already in place, etc., etc. etc. It will happen or it won’t, but it if it happens, it will because “the deal” is in the best interest of all parties involved.

    • You’re right Hugh, as usual. The first time around it was the same case, even with all the convoys. Sure, they made the Saab community feel like they had a role in influencing discussions, but we all know it came down to a business decision. GM’s brand perception was so incredibly low at the end of 2009 that killing off Saab wouldn’t have made that much of a difference to their PR- the key was it made financial sense to unload it the way they did. That didn’t stop every Saab community and even Saab themselves from using the PR to remind the world that there are people who still love the brand. In the end, that’s all this is for, not to influence the decision one way or another. We’re not pretending that it will either, just giving people a way to concretely show their support in a polite way.

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