Bloomberg: Turkey’s Brightwell Holdings Plans to Bid for Saab Automobile

January 19, 2012 in News

By Ola Kinnander at Brightwell Holdings BV, a Turkish private-equity firm, said it plans to bid for bankrupt Swedish carmaker Saab Automobile and revive its manufacturing.

“We will make a bid very shortly, there’s no question,” Zamier Ahmed, a board member of the Istanbul-based group, said today in a phone interview.

Brightwell, which invests in energy, transport and technology, wants to buy all of the Trollhaettan-based carmaker and plans to keep production in Sweden, Ahmed said from London. His firm is in discussions with the administrators overseeing Saab’s bankruptcy as well as with Saab Chief Executive Officer Victor Muller, Ahmed said.

Saab, owned by Zeewolde, Netherlands-based manufacturer Swedish Automobile NV (SWAN), filed for bankruptcy on Dec. 19 after running out of cash. Production at the plant in Trollhaettan stood still for most of last year starting in March. The company can emerge from bankruptcy if a viable bidder comes along, Muller said last month.

Brightwell will need at least two weeks before submitting any offer as it’s still evaluating Saab’s assets, including inventories, to decide how much to pay, Ahmed said.
Any transaction will require approval from Saab’s former owner, General Motors Co. (GM), as well as the Swedish government and the European Investment Bank, Ahmed said.

40 responses to Bloomberg: Turkey’s Brightwell Holdings Plans to Bid for Saab Automobile

  1. This sounds very positive, the only thing that may come into play would be that they say that any transaction will require approval from GM and from what I understand with Youngman’s bid GM approval won’t matter. Let’s hope if they are serious that they have already dealt with GM and I don’t know what it means when they say they need approval from the Swedish government and the EIB unless their deal would be structured in a way that keeps the EIB loan in place……. Either way, it sounds like things are heating up and that is good for me.

  2. Wow… Now it’s Ahmed versus Rachel in a love battle… I wish them both good luck!
    Brightwell seems to aim for both a 9-3 and 9-5 production though if they are in close contact with GM

  3. Is VM still CEO and do Saab still belongs to Spyker/ SWAN? I thought this period was over.

    • No, but VM has offered his time and knowledge of Saab’s current assets to provide information both to the receivers in charge of the bankruptcy and to interested bidders. He said just last Saturday that he hopes a viable bidder can be found for the sake of the jobs that could be saved in Trollhattan if Saab can be saved. If I were considering making a bid, I would want to talk to as many people with knowledge of all the history and details as I could, including the former CEO.

  4. Brightwell has issued an statement in order to compete against Yougman. Should we heard something from India and Canada/Austria as well?

    Ladies and gentlemen, fasten your seat belts…..

  5. I don’t at all believe that they have funds for this. It looks more like trying to get a spot in the media using Saab

    • Even if they get Saab I see nothing good coming from this, investment groups want to turn a profit and care little about the product, they eventually get tired of investing in what they see as a money pit and the brand withers on the vine. People think GMs bean counters were bad, wait until an investment group takes over. Saab needs a car company that can afford to dump a large amount of cash into the brand for a decade before expecting to see a profit. If you don’t believe me, take a look at what happened when Ciberus bought Chrysler, the models aged and the investment was almost zero until Fiat group picked it up for a song.

  6. Colexavier: you say what i think!

  7. They seem sure of getting a deal done with GM onboard, I don´t really see why GM would accept them and not Youngman? Or perhaps SAIC was the only hurdle, and any buyer who is not chinese is ok? Two thoughts, for Saab, it seems better if they could continue with all the models = Brightwell, but Youngman and Rachel have really proven their dedication, I´m really starting to like her.
    But if this means that we might get either a Saab with only the 9-3 for now or a Saab with the complete lineup then both these scenarios are better than the current situation, and I´m a happy camper.

    • I think that gremlin machines faces right nw some issues involving electricity and security – maybe they again like to play the game. This means they allow Brightwell to bid for Saab, let them develop the e900 and ensure that all developements are under gm-license… just a thought – athogh I hope for a totally gm-free 9-3 – maybe again with trionic and B205 enigne?

  8. Now, it seems a bit too much of rumors in one single day. Let’s wait and see.
    IMHO I do not really believe in YM or BW would hold the manufacturing in Sweden.
    In both countries (China, turkey) the workforce’s salaries are much lower. Add the empty factory and the employees who left and you can easily see their plan: move and make own company. And do not forget GM’s shadow all above this.
    But I am still hoping for a nice ending. Never, ever give up:)

    • But they also know that they would deflate the value of the brand in doing so. I believe these fears are blown out of proportion, beside the fact that it would be stupid brand and herritage-wise, I don´t think it´s that easy to move a factory and start up something like this. Key to succes is to get as much of the staff as possible.They are Saab.

    • > IMHO I do not really believe in YM or BW would hold the manufacturing in Sweden.
      > In both countries (China, turkey) the workforce’s salaries are much lower. Add the empty factory and the employees who left and you can easily see their plan: move and make own company. And do not forget GM’s shadow all above this.

      I wouldn’t buy one. Such a SAAB would be SAAB in name only. A big part of the appeal of SAAB is that they are a European car maker with a lot of luxury features, but without sacrificing practicality. Turning SAAB into just another Japanese/Chinese/Korean carmaker would cheapen the brand to the point where they would be less desirable than Hyundai’s current models.

    • All companies with a global ambition aim to have production close to the market. Look for example at Kia, they opened plants in Europe. If they have production only in China/Turkey they will not sell many SAABs outside those markets.

  9. Well, isn’t GM more likely to approve a Turkish company over Chinese? And if so, isn’t it more likely to allow production of the 9-5 and 9-4? Seems loads better to me.

    • IMO BW is a much better idea than YM and seems to be a perfect fit for SAAB with their focus on green energy. Though with YM’s previous investments I imagine they may go down fighting. Either way, the factory in Trollhattan is one of the newest and most efficient in the world so I do not see the intelligence in moving production elsewhere simply for lower salaried workforce. (At least not right away.) Besides, as others have said, the people are alot of what makes SAAB the brand that it is.

  10. You can criticize VM for his business decisions, that is fair, but how often do you hear of a former CEO who is offering his time and effort to try and help the bankruptcy end up with a purchaser who can keep the company intact for the sake of many jobs in the Trollhattan area? Anyone looking to buy Saab is going to do their research as much as possible. VM has no obligation to help the receivers or any potential buyers yet he is doing it willingly.

    VM is no saint (few in business are), but I just do not understand some of the venom directed at him.

    • FWIW: I removed ANA’s comment which maanders replied to.

      There is a time and place for everything. “ANA” should seek professional help.

    • (Apparently the comment to which this was my reply was removed by the SU crew. So, that is why it may seem out of place. SU crew, please feel free to delete this also if you want as it is no longer relevant to the discussion.)

    • You honestly don’t think that Mr. Muller has a horse in this race? Mr. Muller is trying to position himself in the right place should Saab live on again under new ownership. That isn’t to say anything good or bad about him because of that, but it seems rather obvious and common sense. You would hire him, even temporarily or just as a consultant, just as you would turn to other Saab veterans if you took over the company wouldn’t you? Prior to an acquisition and new ownership happening, wouldn’t you make yourself available and helpful in anyway possible to those potential new owners? I would.

    • good point !

    • Completely agree, without a VM Saab would have been dead with no change of revival 2 years ago. GM would have buried the brand and held onto the rights to name assuring no revival.

  11. Another North Street Capital funding playing as the competitor.

    Never thought thought Swedes like to play tricks in business too.

    Nice try.

    • And serious I am pretty sick of playing tricks when certain party is serious at it.

      When that NSC pops up I was really shaping my head, why the dirty trick, no need for that, as if YM believes in this.

      Next time bring Russia LADA into this Saab game too, more interesting for rumours.

  12. YM – Large Domestic Market, Short term model problem,
    BW- Small Domestic Market, GM-models short term possibility.
    3rd- ?

    GM could easily send a press release supporting Brightwell to kill Youngmans bid for Saab.

    • Exactly.

      Just ask BW showing GM’s supporting message, deal done, no need to waste our time any more reading the crap rumours, and the Swede delegation no need to visit YM in China more, saving all’s energy.

      • Agreed, YM could be blown right out of the water. Hopefully BW is serious and has the cash. I can see them having an easier time as they will be able to continue w/ most if not all of the current model line up. The public will forget all this nonsense in a few weeks once the new ads start rolling.

        YM has no shot of doing this without GM’s backing, they wont sell one car in the US.

  13. Now i’ve seen a 2010 9-5 tid at £15000 with 17000 in carbon grey….mmmmm, shall i make this my 23rd SAAB or what ?

  14. Sorry but, BrightWell has just lost any credibility for me.

    I just don’t like people that react. I’m not judging if BW would be a better or worse solution for Saab than YM, but an we too!!! attitude is not the most credible one.

    As I’ve said, maybe BW is better for Saab than YM, maybe not, but if they need more time to make their evaluations, they should do them and afterwards make their bid.

    Another explanation is that they just want to win time, like saying to the receivers, they can’t react on YM’s bid as we are also making one, just a couple of weeks later.

    All in all, not the best moment in time to say: Me too!!!!

  15. Brightwell as an Europe private-equity firm may make a bid for Saab, but the Purchase of Saab is not backed by the Turkish Goverment at all… Big buyouts like this major industries, need Government support first, to get incentives of all kind from the govermnent. The Turkish goverment, wants to build something %100 Turkish.

    There are lot of big boys in the automotive sector in Turkey, who would buy Saab, but since the government wont back it, nobody showed interest. This week, one of the big boys Fiat/Koc Group in Turkey, said they would start on a project to build % 100 home made 4 wheels.The goverment wants it this way, and i am sure it will offer lot of cash advantages, subsidies to the group. If the Turkish goverment, supported the Saab Buyout, it would have been snatched long time ago… Saab is no small brand….

  16. What worries me most about Brightwell, apart from the obvious question about sufficient funding for and after the acquisition (as we all know, at least a billion euro’s will be needed to restart the production, get the new models onto the markets and keep the company going until it’s back in the black again), is that they say they will keep production in THN but don’t specify of what. Earlier they said they would keep ‘at least a part of the production’ in Sweden but I have never seen them state in so many words that they will actually continue building Saab cars in Sweden. Moreover, unlike Youngman, they don’t have any real experience within the automotive industry as far as I know. An electric three-wheeler is not an automobile in my view and boat engines, however green, are no car powerplants.

    So I guess that, all things considered, Youngman may well be a better deal for Saab, the more so as they seem to have secured ample funding. By the way, who are those Swedish interested parties the receivers alluded to a few weeks ago? And are they doing anything tangible?


  17. If Youngman can do it, I say lets “GET RID OF GENERAL MOTORS” and be done with them! New technology will come out by people that aren’t owned by GM and we can do it with out them. Lets face it, everything GM has now is because of Saab. That Buick LaCross doesn’t hold a candle to the new 9-5. If Youngman has the guts, I say lets go China parts, assembled and designed in Trollhatten!

  18. What is critical for any bid to succeed, is to get a blessing from GM. So has anyone already touched base with GM and getting positive sentiment from it? This bit of information is lacking.

  19. Did you know Zamier Achmed, board member of Brightwell Holdings, was a special guest during Outside Saab the Netherlands, 15th of January? Together with Victor Muller 😉

    Picture link:

    We are many, we are Saab

  20. As a SAAB fan for over 40 years, I’m just glad to see people still interested in continuing the brand, if it remains true SAAB! Just a month ago it seemed all was lost. I am not about to criticize people I know little about. They are smart enough to recognize a great car company!

  21. Works for me.

  22. Well as been linked in another post. This seams to be the end of BW and others…