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Reuters: Youngman prepares new bid

January 19, 2012 in Editorial, News

Reuters came up with an article on Wednesday giving some info about a new bid for Saab that is prepared by Youngman. I felt like adding my few cents to their report, based on things I heared and my conclusions from that.

The Chinese group remains interested and is prepared to make an offer, which one of the sources said would be worth several billion Swedish crowns.

A second source with knowledge of the process confirmed that a bid was likely next week.

Neither would say how Youngman would get round GM’s objections. The lawyer representing Youngman has said that the firm would seek to develop technology not controlled by GM.


It is no big surprise that Youngman are still trying to get a deal on Saab. They invested quite a bit of money in Saab and they still want to get it done. For them it is also a question of staying independent while the Chinese auto industry faces consolidation. Youngman always wanted to keep as much Saab staff as possible to get an intact business so it is logical that they want to get the deal done asap.

The quote from the lawyer is more or less hinting that Youngman wants, or maybe needs to start the business with a fresh model palette that is independent from GM. The chance to get the licensing from GM will be close to zero as I can’t imagine that GM changed their mind in the last few weeks. But still, as I already mentioned in my post yesterday, if the bring on enough money this is nothing that can’t be done.

Both sources said there were risks to a bid because receivers were preparing to sell parts of Saab’s business to engineering firm Semcon SMC.ST. That would leave little for a buyer interested in continuing to build cars, the sources said.

“The big danger is that Saab and Semcon have agreed a deal with the receiver over large parts of Saab Automobile that would make it impossible for anyone to buy Saab as a whole,” the second source said.

As we learned on Tuesday Hemfosa refused to agree to the Semcon deal because they want to utilize the factory as a whole. But from what we heared from our sources the Semcon bid included parts that are nice to own if you want to develop cars but on the other hand it’s nothing that you could not rent when you need is. And as Semcon is a engineering company they would surely be willing to help out.

But earlier in the process NDO, just like Hemfosa now, emphasized that they prefer Saab to be sold as a whole. As there are parties who are interested in buying the complete package the receivers will put their effort in striking such a deal rather than selling of big parts now. The museum may be an exception as it is not relevant for production but can bring on some money to continue the process.

Another obstacle is that the receivers have yet to provide information about exactly what assets are for sale, the second source said.

“You don’t know if the brand rights are for sale … if the technology is for sale. There is no information available,” the source said.

This is something the receivers have spent a lot of time on – one would hope that the press conference may give some info about that. We still have no info if they follow the invitation by Youngman to come to China and examine the plans. If they do I’d tend to think that they completed that issue.

Without GM’s technology licenses and production contract, analysts have said, Saab would be unable to continue in its present form.

Saab’s PhoeniX platform, expected to be the base of future models, relies very little on GM technology. But any buyer would have to invest heavily to complete the development of PhoeniX.

First of all, the investment in the Phoenix platform needs to be done no matter if GM agrees to sell licenses to the current Saab models. As I stated before, I don’t see GM granting rights to the 9-5 and 9-4x but maybe an agreement on the current 9-3 could be found, and even if that excluded China it would allow the factory to produce some cars. In any case this could be better a complete standstill. There was even some talk that Youngman could assemble some new Lotus model for Europe in Trollh√§ttan.

This is until the first Phoenix based cars can hit the market, maybe in two years from now. A complete restart will cost quite a bit of money but getting free of those licensing chains can only be a good thing.

Any buyer would also have to get permission from defense and security company Saab AB and truck maker Scania to use the Saab name, as they still own the rights to the brand.

I think that a solid buyer has a good chance to get the rights to the name. At least the receivers have added one more lawyer just to deal with that issue so this is something they definetely work on.

I just hope he receivers are now finally ready to get into talks with potential suitors. It’s about time.

14 responses to Reuters: Youngman prepares new bid

  1. In http://www.di.se there is more fresh information (from unnamed source..) about YM:s bid. 5 billion SEK + another 5 billion to development of new models, would include production of present 9-3 without GM parts. Restart of the factory after 15 weeks from deal signed.

  2. A solid buyer will get the right to the name according to a very trustworthy source that is near the inner circles of SAAB AB in Linköping.

  3. Does anyone know how Saab Automobile affects the Saab global brand awareness? I am sure many people know the company first by the cars. Is it of any use for Saab AB (the defense company)?

  4. Saab needs the 9-5 and 9-4X to have a hope in hell chance of surviving and restart.

    • I don’t think so.
      Those cars are great cars, but the 9-3 is the one selling in bigger numbers. If you have the money, you can run on one model (with many body variants) for a longer time till a new 9-5/9-4x/9-2 are available. but it will be a quite risky entrepreneurship as the nextGen 9-3 will have to be a big Success.

      • Indeed … isn’t that what Saab did with the classic 900?

      • You forget about the dealers. The dealer network is collapsing, and noone will come back to SAAB in order to sell one model, the 9-3, perceived as outdated, for 1-2 years to come. Then, a new 9-3, maybe a very good car, but still just one model. The dealer network has suffered so much, they did not sell for 3 consecutive years, 2012 will be nothing again, just in H2. No way SAAB will survive as a manufacturer from THN. As a car designer for China, yes.

        • As has always been the case with Saab for the past decade, there are some challenges to be overcome.

          The dealer network was active in 2010 and there are still cars to be sold in the US at this time. Hopefully some of them will be able to survive on service work and perhaps second hand Saabs until production gets rolling again.

          FWIW: There is still a financial crisis riding the world. The frugal 9-3 should be better situated than the 9-5 anyhow. Staying low for the next few years might not be the worst strategy there is.

    • That would be ideal. I wonder if they can agree on it with GM if they do NOT sell those in China, only US and Europe?

  5. I have read something about Youngman intention to produce Lotus/Proton cars in the factory, if 9-3 could not be restarted, until new 900. Is that true?

  6. IF Youngman had just quietly honored the original agreement – money to
    get the company back in operation in exchange for 19.9% back when,
    June or July? – IMO it would have slipped by under the GM radar and we
    wouldn’t be living with the current drama. There’s a Texas
    expression: “All hat, no cattle.” That’s my prediction of the
    current “offer”.

    Cynical in Florida

    • Agreed. Can’t survive on one vehicle. GM will most likely bring this to court till the cows come home, wasting even more time.

      Sounds to me like YM wants to put up the good effort, knowing full well it will collapse then walk away w/ Phoenix and face in hand…

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