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Chinese/Japanese bid for Saab – updated

March 23, 2012 in News

Sverigesradio.se report that a consortium from Japan and China has placed a bid for Saab:

The consortium is backed by strong investors and be ready to pay a premium price for Saab. They should have met with the administrators and have had positive meetings, says a source of P4 West.

- They are big favorites, because they have such great financial resources, the source said.

It was previously known that the Chinese Youngman has made an offer. Another competitor is the Indian Mahindra, which reportedly has made a bid, but how far they have come in the process is highly uncertain, according to a source.

Update from ttela.se:

The consortium is said to have reached Saab’s bankruptcy trustees, and shall also – probably – have made a bid. From the same source comes that the PR-company Springtime are the Swedish representatives of the consortium. And when TTELA reaches Springtime CEO Maria Arnholm confirms that the agency is representing Saab stakeholders.

- I can confirm that we represent clients who have an interest in Saab. More than that, I can not say, she says

According TTELA’s source, however, these stakeholders are very interesting.

- This is clearly the hottest track, they are very good, says TTELA’s source.

This seems to fit well with the story we posted earlier about BAIC. So even if things are quiet on the surface there is a lot happening underneath. And rightly so as the end of March is near.

81 responses to Chinese/Japanese bid for Saab – updated

  1. This looks inetesting!
    Let’s wait and see what is going to happen.

  2. While I very much like the thought about alternative power-sources in cars, I do hope that they will not ONLY make electrical cars , but also the Phoenix Hybrid… …
    If the Japanese investor are one of the big car-manufactures, it will leave me with very mixed emotions…

  3. This is the BAIC-Matsushita (Panasonic) bid. Given the openly indifferent reaction to the Youngman bid and the silence on the Mahindra front, I take it they are the preferred, if not only, bidder currently considered for the entirety of Saab Automobile AB (sans the assets the receivers will be able to sell separately, e.g. the equipment for Volvo’s Chinese factory, and Saab Parts, which will probably be auctioned separately to some private equity investor).

    It’s springtime, my 2011 9-3 looks as good as it can, unsold dated Cadillac stock filled up the former Saab showroom at my dealer’s and I feel as if we were about to finally bury a close relative.

    • My fear is that politicians (and certain lawyer types..?) have a near-religious faith in EVs.

      No EV will solve my everyday needs (though I admit my wife could use one) and no EV will certainly cope with my vacation needs.

      I hope the receivers are not closet-treehuggers that will blindly follow the Prius-fashion of the previous decade over a sound business proposition that would let Saab rise again.

      • Absolutely I agree with you Rune about the political agenda at play here. As I see it (admittedly from a North American perspective) the Swedish government’s agenda all along has been to shut down Saab as a conventional car manufacturer. Why? Because they see auto manufacturing as a 20th century industry, not a 21st century one – the “old economy” not the “new economy”. They also don’t think it’s viable for Sweden to have 2 conventinal car manufacturers. The only future they would support for Saab is to see it focus on unconventional (i.e. electric) cars. I would not be at all surprised if they have indicated this to the receivers and that helps to explain why mainstream manufacturers such as YM and Mahindra appear to be getting the cold shoulder..

      • Sweden & Europe’s focus on electric cars & alternative energy is a losing proposition. This is the equivalent of a command economy. The market MUST dictate what sells, not government. If Saab goes the all electric route, it will eventually fail. Hopefully, the new owner will allow the market dictate what Saabs will be produced and not try to force “politically correct” automobiles on consumers.

        • On the very contrary, the ACTUAL, not model market, is full of insufficient information. People, both acting on their own behalf (private purchases) and deciding on behalf of corporations and other entities, do not tend to make detailed cost/benefit analysis of the purchase decision’s impact on the future natural resource reserves, energy balance and such. We might like an “eco” label on something we buy, but most of us nary have an idea of the ACTUAL impact of our purchase on the environment and our common future.

          Not to mention that you can only purchase what’s available in the market at the price you can afford. It’s not that you can buy anything you want. I might want a hydrogen-powered VW Up, alas there’s no such thing available and ordering a bespoke example would probably set me back far more money than I even have.

          So, governments do need to step in and perform their role in regulating the markets, because it’s a simplistic and untrue view that only the buyers and the sellers influence the markets. Many more other stakeholders do, and the government always will.

      • Is there a sound business proposition on the table at all?

      • “No EV will solve my everyday needs (though I admit my wife could use one) and no EV will certainly cope with my vacation needs.”

        That’s like saying alternative energy source will never solve all my electricity needs so we should stop investing in alternative energy. It may not be the answer now, but the ICE will be replaced at some point, its inevitable.

  4. Yeah, right. Story du jour.
    Tomorrow brings another story.

  5. I am thinking of BAIC:s connection to GM and the old 9-3 and 9-5 they have in the factories.
    Is this perhaps a chance to get OK from GM??

    • Why would someone be hoping for GM’s blessing for producing 10 year old models ? We’ve already seen that we can forget about the new 9-5 and the 9-4x, so it’s the phoenix or nothing.

    • as GM was denying several times to provide IP licenses to any bidder, we can forget the reproduction of the 9-5II and 9-4X,
      to relanch the actual 9-3II would even not be easy as still some GM-IP are involved, that means we have to wait at least 12 to 16 months before a new Saab Model will be available again

  6. Ugh electric cars. I understand restarting Saab and losing money the first couple of years under traditional conditions, but what insane amount of money are they going to have to throw at this to even see a profit from it in the next decade. It’s kinda depressing that the thought of an electric Saab is apparently at the top right now.

    But who knows, maybe they’ll be the first electric car company in the history of electric cars ventures to be successful……..

  7. normally I change every 5 years my cars, in this case I will keep my 9-3II convertible MY 2006 another 2 years now hoping that the Phoenix will then be available

  8. I would not worry about the “unnamed sources” that are telling that the bidder is the preferred one. They must start this spinning game, they are last in the process, probably will not have the best offer, since they can not be interested in the whole company. They are trying to influence the receivers, authorities and Swedish people that they are “the green savers”. Everything seems to be right: They have money, they will keep SAAB name, they will produce electric cars which is the future. And that is what is wrong! They seem to be too good!
    The receivers have successfully resisted to comment on many rumors that all interested parts have launched, they will probably resist to this one.
    So I am not worried.

  9. great financial resources does not equate to success, if a new saab is to emerge then innovation, design flair and swedish know how will win the day and my money for a new saab…..

  10. What good is this if GM is still stonewalling the process?

  11. Is there any possibility that a partnership such as BAIC/Youngman might happen for this reason: Youngman’s idea is to get the Saab brand to sell gasoline/diesel powered cars. BAIC’s desire is to form the 100% electric car company, probably not branded Saab. In this big money partnership, Youngman gets to make the old Saab designs that BAIC has control of—-and sell them as new models while the PhoeniX platform is completed. Eventually, the Swedish factory is for BAIC electric cars and Youngman Saabs are manufactured in China or somewhere else? By combining resources, both come out with what they want?

  12. Thoughts by the table

    SAAB Museum re-opened tomorrow … 8 days left of March ….
    Hope all goes well … hope that jobs will come back ….
    remember laughing .. swearing … lunch breaks talks …
    .. dreaming of a BRAND NEW 9-5 SC …. * Sigh * ….
    comfort me with the idea that it will probably be fine in the end ……
    Fingers crossed .. SAAB IS A WAY OF LIFE …. SAAB IS MY LIFE

  13. Isn’t panasonic also connected with Toyota ? Many it’s a treesome. Huhuhuh

  14. Threesom that is.

  15. This information is spin from the bidders themselves. “They are big favorites because they have such great financial resources” — ignoring the fact that Mahindra has equal or larger financial resources.

    This spin effort makes me think that BAIC/Matsushita is on the outside looking in. They would not have to do press spin if they really were the favorites.

    • I agree Greg, the top bidders are silent and don’t talk to the media (Mahindra, BMW/MAGNA) The ones that talk to much aren’t contenders and they know it! (BAIC/Youngman and the Turks Brightwell who are no longer in the race)

    • “Equal or larger financial resources”? You’re kidding, right?

      Mahindra – 2011 Revenue: 7.4 billion USD
      Panasonic – 2011 Revenue: 105 billion USD

      • Revenues of the book year 2011 (ending ultimo March 2011) of the Mahindra Group (since you mention the group revenues of the Panasonic group) were not 7.4 but 14.5 billion USD. Still no more than 1/7 of Panasonics revenues but clearly ‘a bit’ more than 1/14. Anyway, both have enough to resuscitate Saab but Mahindra probably want to do it by building automobiles whereas Panasonic apparently want to build unsaleable self-propelled battery-powered refrigerators. I guess I know which one of those two I prefer. And I also guess that, out of the three known bidders, Youngman may well have the biggest heart for Saab and the backing of a lot of Chinese banks. So don’t scratch Youngman yet, those guys may still have a surprise in petto for us.

        Ivo

      • Fair enough point on the total revenue, I stand corrected. When I was thinking of Mahindra’s size, I was thinking about the very large number of employees they have – but given the relatively low wages paid in India, that does not translate into the same labor overhead that I’m sure Panasonic has.

        The point remains, though, Mahindra is certainly big enough to get the job done.

  16. Interesting news, well funded Chinese Japanese bid sounds good to me, but again I’m not picky right now.

    A few things comes to my mind:

    Had recent reunion with an old friend, now living off doing business in Sweden. He likes Saab to, while now driving a LR4 and X3. According to him he was worried that the administrators where going to drag this on for a very long time, basically sucking the estate dry, only for their own winnings. Swegov seldom gets involved unless there is criminal intent and a lengthy bankruptcy is virtually never investigated for any extreme delay in finding a conclusion. These things are sometimes taking years to clear and to finalize, even if statements for quick settlements are done, with unsatified or bankrupt creditors as a result.

    Also, we discussed the possibility of a unfriendly purchase of Saab, only to take the capacity off the market. While hoping that the proceedings progress without any undue doings, promises are kept in regard to a possible start of production (of anything, something) in trollhattan. The region surely needs it. I just hope the administrators are getting it all in enforceable print…

    Electrical cars – I cannot believe all the negative comments here. Have anyone ever driven one??? The first one i ever drove was an electrified LADA in Switzerland some 15 years ago. I have driven the True Electric Saab convertible, it was great and felt almost production ready (pending issues like cabin climate control). I have been to Tesla motors factory and while the roadsters are now old, they give acceptable range AND are great drives. The model S is a great looker and practical at that with 5+2 seat configuration and different power options a good step forward. Expensive, yes, but so where the ICE cars for decades intitially. As gas passes 5$ and electrical vehicles are getting cheaper, the incentive will be greater. Burning Dino juice for private road propulsion is already on its last stretch, IMHO.
    I want be able to get a new Saab electric or hybrid Phoenix ASAP!

    So, hopefully this process, the Saab bankruptcy will be over soon with new financially strong owners that will pickup production at Trollhattan. But I’m not holding my breath…

    So, in order to end on a happier note, just done a spring makeover of my gas guzzling 2006 9-3 Aero, great machine, great drive, good looks, fantastic memories!!!

  17. I’m not sure the Chinese and Japanese know how to make and design iconic cars. Basically they copycat the West. Not much creativity. Look at what BMW did with Mini. Last year Mini had it’s best year in the US, selling 57,000 units and up 33%. This with 7 different models. Basically

  18. I’ll ignore that this is another hype-spin story for the moment.

    There seems to be a lot of opposition against fully electric cars here. Although I love the roar of a gasoline engine in front or behind me, I think that the key issue with a car is how well it drives. In many ways an electric motor is much more suited to propel a car than a gasoline engine. Even is you stick an electric motor on each wheel then the mechanical system is way more simpler than with a gasoline engine. Since a computer will be in full control of the electric motors you will be able to do things with your car that you can only dream of with our good ol’ gasoline cars.

    Right now the biggest downside of electric cars is their limited range, but keep in mind that an enormous amount of money and effort is poured into extending the oomp of the battery packs. If Saab would go the fully electric way then they could profit tremendously of all the incentives and environmental pots of money of the Swedish government and the EU. Wouldn’t it be nice to be fully backed by those for a change?

    Saab always has been about innovation and driving pleasure. A new life as a fully electric car company would be very much in line with this heritage. I’m pretty certain that we’re about 10 years off from fully electric cars with sufficient range. A new owner of Saab will realize this quickly and probably stick a small combustion engine in to create a hybrid that can bridge the revenue gap between now and the shiny new future.

    Sorry to be a heritic……I’m stripping already….get out the tar and feathers……..

    • I could agree with you GerritN if the electric car was actually ready for primetime…but it isn’t, and who knows when or if it ever will be…even with all of the government subsidies applied to it. The market should and will determine if the electric car is viable, not a government program or subsidy.

      Only when electric cars become competitive with internal combustion engined autos on an equal footing will there be a self sustaining market for them. Until them, there will be a very limited market — and if that market is subsidized, its actually not not a market at all.

      • Would you say that there is a self-sustaining market for LPG vehicles? There are huge amounts of those sold, plus a growing amount of cars are converted to LPG in the aftermarket. That said, once you look at it, there is a lot of government intervention involved – those are the governments that dictate, via taxes, the relative prices of LPG, gasoline and diesel fuel. They have, more or less consciously, decided to “subsidize” LPG in many countries.

        • Bravada, you’ve just answered your own question. If LPG vehicles are subsidized, there is no real market.

        • The decision is based on the fact that methane, and to a lesser extent LPG, release less carbon dioxide per energy generated. This is due to a higher ratio of C-H bond to C-C bonds in the lower hydrocarbons.

          So, there is an environmental reasoning behind that (the effect is rather small, though).

    • These are true words!
      So count me in, +1

    • The problem is perhaps not electric cars themselves, I’d love an electric motor in my car as well. The problem I guess is that nowhere do BAIC or Matsushita say they are in any way interested in the Saab brand. Even if jobs are saved and, admittedly, the receivers have thusly done far more than they are supposed to do (they need to give as much money back to creditors and other stakeholders, not help people find employment or prop up local economies), this doesn’t mean we ever see a Saab badge on a car again.

      This is my main issue with the project as a Saab fan, and as an interested observer of the automotive business for some time, my other concern is that most electric vehicle concerns over the years have failed, are struggling (and on their way to collapse apparently), or are being heavily subsidized and have a neglectable impact (see Ford Focus EV sales).

    • GerritN:
      I agree with you completely…all of your comments are spot on! I can only add a couple of thoughts.
      Peak Oil…and a vissionary company to exploit this situation.

      Most all postings here at SU are viewing electric vehicles in the ‘now’ horizon…which is fair, but our childrens kids, will be NEEDING them.

      Why not have part of, whatever organization, dedicated to SAAB research and engineering….to eventually master and lead in this field!?

      • I am open to the idea that our childrens’ kids will need EVs.

        But I see trouble ahead for any company that wants to sell products today that is intended for a marketplace 30-40 years into the future.

        The Koenigsegg business model set up in 2009 was based on Saab producing 100k+ vehicles (later adjusted down to 80k or so). I doubt there are that many EV customers around that would not be better served by taking the bus.

        Electric motors: very cool
        Car filled with batteries: not cool
        Hours spent to recharge vehicle: not cool at all.

        The solution to those problems exists today. Until that solution/alternative disappears, you will have a hard time convincing the nay-sayers. (and you’ll have a really hard time developing new tech to bring a new solution to the table)

        • Rune,
          I can envision electric vehicles with different technolgical and innovative designs that might not include “car filled with batteries”. Seeking this effort can’t start soon enough. It might not produce what we want for the SAAB of yesterday, but it may be just the right firm for pioneering an ‘electric trubo’…much like it did for the gas turbo. Things change.

          • Had Saab been the healthy company that it had deserved to be at this point, they should absolutely have a true EV offering on sale. It would be a great alternative in addition to the hybrid 9-3 they envisioned. But the main product, for the foreseeable future must be traditional BioPower models. Everything else is gravy.

            I am not dead set against EVs, but I object to the notion of EV exclusiveness. That is a difficult route to navigate and a sharp departure from 60 years of Saab history. Imagine introducing a new product that cannot match the range capabilities of the good old Saab 96 from the 60s. That is not impressive in my book. As a side-offering: Yes. Main product: NO!

            Hopefully Saab AB will realize this too and not lend their name to such a venture.

    • I don’t have anything against electric vehicles or hybrids—-my daily driver is a company owned Prius. My problem with the IDEA of electrics is that taxes have to subsidize them—-such being the case with the Chevy Volt in the U.S. The car isn’t competitive enough on its own merits, so collectively, taxpayers have to pitch in to give Volt owners breaks—-and give Chevrolet/GM big breaks. If the electrics could succeed on their own merit, I’d be all for them. Let the market determine it.

      • If government never got involved in the market that would be one thing. But all politicians think that government should be involved in the market no matter what they say. Government is involved in the market when it lets big companies monopolize small ones and it is involved in the market when it attempts to protect against monopolies.

        If the government thinks it needs to head science in a general direction, even that influences the market. There is no free (as in free from government influence) market. It doesn’t exist. It never has. So you might as well decide what you want government to support and get behind those people who want produced what you want produced.

  19. I just hope all this mess will find a positive end, otherwise interim I´ll need some psychological treatment to keep a stiff upper lip. ;-) EV – no thanks, it is only to pay off the big fuel consumption of the other cars. Fuel cell – o.k.

  20. ok, the Chinese, i understand, that they are interesting in buying Saab. (buying ‘modern’ technology)

    but the Japanese…?

    • What´s strange about that? – Oh, yes off course that they should now pay for Saab-innovations and design instead of waiting a little and then steal it, like usually… ;-)

  21. Im not so sure what the big deal is about GM tech anymore. Its light years behind the stuff that BMW has in its new cars. I am still of the belief that Saab will sold bit by bit and that BMW is probably interested in the Phoenix platform to counter what VW has in is MQB platform.

  22. Isn’t there anybody out there who speaks the magic words” let’s wait and see”? Thank god ! Good for my bloodpressure. Toyota could be in need for turbo tec, their petrolengines are a joke at this time. They are linked to panasonic / matsusitha.

  23. P said on March 23, 2012

    All this electric talk from these companies tell me the cross are circling and its only a matter of tome before they pick Swab to pieces for their own end game. Its looking less and less likely that Swab will be saved to the liking if anyone on this board.

    Quite frankly if it is saved and goes 100% electric, I hope the name does NOT go with it because a Non Turbo Swab is NOT a Swab and id rather see it die with its roots then continue on in embarrassing fashion.

  24. P said on March 23, 2012

    So much for the kindle fire typing lol!

  25. My 10cts:
    EV technology is great no doubt about that, but conventional battery technology and power storage is simply verry far from complete. There is no power grid in the world that would be able te charge if everybody would be driving EV,s People would come home from work and plug in thier EV,s all around the same time and that would cause a huge power surge that would stress the grid so much that it would collapse. We are still not able to store udge amounts of power so this surplus in power needs to come from fast natural gas powerplants, nuclear plans or oil powered plants and those are all less efficient than a modern petrol car. all a bit like taking water to the sea.

    What we need is diversity not unity,

  26. If a company the size of GM cant make an EV work what chance would Saab have? Total non starter.

    • The ways in which GM sabotages its own success are too numerous to count. Why is the Volt priced so high? If the Volt technology had to have a premium price to start with, why did they launch it with their everyday, not premium brand, Chevrolet? Why did GM hype the Volt so much, knowing that cutting edge technology inevitably has teething pains in the version 1.0 release?

      The problems with the Chevy Volt have everything to do with GM’s corporate failures, and very little to do with electric cars, or the specific Volt technology itself. (The car itself is really an engineering marvel).

    • There are many things Saab could do with electric/hybrid cars that GM could not — but Saab could not spend the tens of billions of USD you would need for the necessary research, development, and marketing. Nor does Saab have the brand credibility to get people to buy unproven technology from them.

      Trying to turn Saab into a European Tesla is not a good idea. Certainly not a profitable one.

    • The GM DINOSAUR could not be a good promoter of EV. They lost their credibility few years ago with the EV1. They tried to sell the limitation of the EV1 technology. Of course we know about the limitation, but maybe 40% (just a guess) of the cars on the road could be electric.

      If you believe in something, you can get it, maybe with some obstacle, but you get it. If GM ha kept on the road the EV1s few years ago, they could have something to offer today. I believe Telsa has something better to offer, not at the same price, but a lot better. Telsa does not have a high production volume neither and the money. They believe in it and they put pressure on some other manufacturer.

      Another good example, Renault/Nissan. I know it’s a very small car, but the CEO believed in t and they get one.

      About battery charge time, there are 2 technologies (220v and 400v). I think with the 400volts, it could take 2 hours for a 80% charge. The cars could support both technologies.

      Charging stations : Hydro-Quebec (electrical Quebec company) are helping their customers to setup charging stations at home and will install public 400v stations.

  27. This is just my opinion but im really nervous about whos going aquire saab.they had that iconic qwerky-ness to them and always stood out ,them gm purchased all of them and they cars havent looked original since then …..

    I hope whoever buys them(saab) will bring back the hatchback originality that they once had ,the 900 evolved into a sedan :(

    And a chinese owner worries me….for example volvo always had more boxy look that got more and more rounded as the time went on ..now they are chinese owned ,and their new models resemble honda civics!! (hope thats not whats instore for saab?)

    I have my fingers crossed that the highest bidder thats financially equiped doesnt necessarily win saab….but one who has the best interest to keep /bring back saab to revive them ..to give enthusiasts what will make us fall in love all over again with the quirky swedish brand.

    (maybe a retro/modern 900 spg design)

  28. How can BAIC be making a bit? I thought that the NDRC in China only allowed one Chinese firm to bid on a company at a time so that two Chinese companies are not bidding up the price.

  29. As much as I want to, I just can’t comment on this anymore. So much speculation – its exhausting. I am just going to kick back a bit and wait for the “actual” news of Saab’s new owner soon :)

    • You know, the more commenting and speculation we have the more interesting this thing gets. There are so many guys here on SU which are so smart and can dig up so much information about things that we might very well have the answer right here in the comments of different posts without knowing it…

      It’ll be very interesting to see what the winning bid is, we might be surprised or it might be “well we knew that all a long..” =)

  30. I have just watched BBC1…”Sport Relief 2012”……and to think all I have to worry about is where am to get a switch for a rear window or the right coloured brake calliper when there’s kids out their who haven’t got water to drink. I feel very humbled !!
    Personally i think this next week coming will be one of SAAB’s most important in it’s history leading to the end of the month. Be it sold in it’s entirety to India or China,all I’m sure off is that their are about 8000 members on SU which probably means about 8000 different ideas how this will all end. I’ve had a good 33 years with SAAB and had no other, even driven a ”company” 9-5 police car in 2002, all marked up and on trial….sadly never made the grade against VOLVO 850R but thoroughly enjoyed the experience all the same. I’m nearing 50 now and no intention of leaving my old faithful friend SAAB and I hope you lot out there stick it out also……………

  31. URGENT INFO
    SAAB DOCUMENTARY IN SWEDISH TV CHANNEL 9 IN THE TOP GEAR PROGRAM
    SAT. MARCH 24 AT 14.50
    SUN MARCH 25 AT 23.55

    Orig. program was aired on March 20 and will be repeated on above timings.

    It’s a historical documentary in order to honor the memory of Saab.
    The persons behind this documentary are the UK motor enthusiasts
    Jeremy Clarkson and James May.

    Maybe it would be great if the Saab Museum in Trollhättan could get hold of a copy with swedish translation of this documentary if you do not already have it, and obtain
    permission from the TV Channel or the owners/people behind this documentary to show it to visitors few times per day on set timings during museum opening hours, or just having it rolling on a screen whenever you have got visitors inside the museum.

  32. Just wanna know. If this deal goes through, and Saab starts producing only electric cars with the current gen 9-3. Its still has a Saab badge and same interior, would anyone still buy a Saab?

  33. BAIC can get the 9-3 line up and running as they already have the rights to most of the IP and a supply of engines with integration work already done (it will be the old B205) but if they can sell it cheap maybe it will still sell well enough. The 9-5 …maybe only with non-SAAB diesel engines.. while they integrate the old B235 or even the BMW 2l turbo? Perhaps there is a Japanese auto company that will sell them engines?

  34. Nordican I’m with you! I’ve been looking for a way to retrofit the button dash into my 09 9-3.

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