A Conversation With Brightwell
As I sat at my desk yesterday, I received an interesting phone call. On the other end of the line was none other than Zamier Ahmed from Brightwell. In the last month we have been playing a bit of email tag and he had said he would like the chance to chat and all of a sudden the phone rang and there he was. He started by saying that it was with great regret that Brightwell had completely pulled out of the bidding for Saab. In the past 15 days, he and his team had been working around the clock to get their bid together and quite often I was receiving emails from him at what would be 3am his time. I have to tell you that at 38 years old myself, 3am is not an hour that I have seen in some years now.
I have seen many comments about Brightwell in different threads and media outlets about how they were not big enough or experienced enough to take on Saab. Zamier is quick to point out to me that he is a business man and that when his company picks an investment, they are very careful and selective and their history shows that they have a record of quick turn around’s with the companies that they have been involved with. Brightwell didn’t just one day think, hey let’s buy Saab and they exhausted a great deal of time and expense trying to get the best possible outcome for Saab that they could.
Their bidding did hinge on GM’s willingness to work with them to create immediate revenue from production and sales. Brightwell understood the importance of having production of the 9-3, 9-5 and 9-4X to supply vehicles to dealers and the public as they completed the new 9-3 on the Phoenix platform, which he figured would take a minimum of 18 months. This is a great point to consider because they knew they needed time to complete the new 9-3 and didn’t want to lose more dealers and customers as they worked to finish the all new Saab.
This company understands the importance of Saab’s heritage and the importance of the people that make Saab, Saab. Zamier stressed to me that Brightwell wanted to make sure the people of Saab were taken care of on all levels. In January, Zamier attended the We Are Many event with the Dutch and said he saw around 2000 cars and people that day and as a car enthusiast he has never in his life seen anything like that and was very moved by it. Saab fans are like no others is what he told me and told me once again the story of a man who approached him and said “If you can, please save Saab because Saab saved me”. We can never think that the events we attend or the personal stories are not noticed, because in this case, this man had a number of stories of things that made Saab different to them.
In the last little while people have been asking him “why Saab”? Without skipping a beat, his answer is simple, the people, the quality and the achievements of Saab. He then tells me the story of a video he saw on Saabs United (so yes they watch our sites and see what we all talk about), in the video they showed a BMW dropped upside down and the steering wheel and everything collapsed into the car and the Saab they did the same to, the doors could still open after the drop.
When asked about the trustees of the bankruptcy, Zamier had nothing but good things to say about them. “Every question we had was answered by the trustees”. The trustees throughout the process have been well informed and had answers for all of the questions Brightwell had throughout the process and he goes further to say the trustees were exceptional.
Brightwell has been selective in who they talk to in the media and have a good understanding of what to trust in reports of what is said and isn’t. I bring this up because the recent comments from James Cain in TT. When I asked about Cains comments, all he could say is that based on where the report came from, he trusts TT and believes that is what Cain said. Brightwell will not engage in a tit for tat with the comments that GM made through Cain. From the onset of Brightwell’s interest in Saab, they have always had the intention of acquiring the entire assets of Saab and revive the operations. They were in dialog with GM at the highest levels and their bid hinged on cooperation with GM on licensing that would have made GM money on licensing agreements and on every car built. GM’s action completely baffles Zamier and myself, he explained it to me as if the captain of the ship looks out and sees someone in the water and turns the lights off and keeps going rather then throw a life line. The other part that is confusing is the fact that as a businessman like Zamier is, it makes no sense that it would be in the best interest of shareholders to not make money off of Saab. As a shareholder, you want to see returns and if there is an opportunity to make money, they should be for it. I take it a step further myself and considering the position GM was in with needing to be bailed out, I don’t think they should have the right to not make money where it’s available. Unlike the Chinese 100% ownership structure, GM should not have the same kind of concerns about IP.
At the end of the day, Brightwell is out of the bidding for Saab. They will continue to look at other investments that will evolve the quality of life. Brightwell is a company to watch in the future and are tied to so many different fields. One of their important investments is in the electric vehicles for Turkey where gas is at $4 a litre and a lot of people can’t afford to drive. They want to build an electric vehicle that is affordable for everyone and they will continue down that path. I have to say that Zamier has been a pleasure to talk with through this and has been open and honest. I want to thank Brightwell for all their efforts and wish them a successful future in the automotive world and I for one don’t doubt that they have what it takes and we haven’t heard the last of them.