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by Swade

Djup Strupe and the shiftings sands

January 4, 2010 in Editorial

I know that after posts here on the weekend, many of you think that I think there’s little hope for Saab, that GM don’t want to sell.
Let me reiterate my main statement from the weekend. This was written in bold and is my main belief arising from conversations and reading last weekend:

A conservative summation of events this year has to lead me to believe that GM needs every possible push to negotiate a sale of Saab right now – they must be compelled to do so.

This is not to say that closing Saab is a fait accompli. Not by any means. Bottom line, it means that GM are being shifty about things and they will have to be held to account. It’s going to take a Godfather offer (without the guns, of course) to get this over the line. An offer they can’t refuse.
In that link, above, I gave you a timeline that explained my hesitations about GM’s genuineness in continuing to negotiate.
Here’s another timeline for you, with some thoughts in italics:

Read the rest of this entry →

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Djup Strupe – sighting

December 17, 2009 in Saabology

This is not the sighting itself, but two of these three men were seen in Stockholm today by Djup Strupe.
Visitors to Saab design
Hint: the two tallest ones……

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Djup Strupe gets mischevious with camera

December 10, 2009 in News

Three men of distinction………. two of which are known, the other exceedingly tall, walking into Saab design.
The Dutch are often quite tall, aren’t they?

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Update on potential bidders for Saab Automobile

December 7, 2009 in News

The picture is starting to get as clear as mud when it comes to potential owners for Saab, but there are a few things happening and several Djup Strupes have been in touch and a loosed a few cats from the bag.
The groundbreaking word over the weekend is that Renco Group have reportedly withdrawn themselves from the race and the reason shared for their withdrawal is quite possibly going to prove to be a major achilles heel in this deal. Those of you panning the Koenigsegg Group for their withdrawal due to timing issues, most likely with respect to the EIB process and associated state guarantees, should take note.
GM are reportedly anxious about anyone including the EIB loan as a condition for their purchase of Saab, but buyers are considering the EIB loan as a necessity for getting the deal done as it provides essential funding for future development. The lack of clarity with regard to the status of the EIB loan is giving everyone pause (and it’s a big reason why Ksegg found the situation too risky and costly for their own planned progress).
A snapshot of where the EIB loan is right now….
What’s needed for the EIB loan right now is the OK from the European Union. The EIB has already given approval to Saab’s loan application, but this approval requires clearance from the EU to confirm that the state guarantees attached to the loan do not contravene EU regulations on state aid. The EU has not yet given this OK.
Once that’s given, it’s been confirmed that Saab should still be able to get the loan under a new owner (it was negotiated with Koenigsegg Group in mind) as long as that new owner sticks to the business plan that the loan was based on. There will most likely also be a review of the ownership group and structure to ensure that it’s sound.
All of this outstanding work is proving to be the weak point in Saab’s situation. Buyers want the EIB loan. GM doesn’t want a sale to be tied to the EIB loan. The Swedish government don’t want to do anything more than what they’re already doing with regard to state guarantees.
Someone’s going to have to give.
Whilst Renco might be “out” for the moment, this news gives a new meaning to the phrase “out”. Basically speaking, all of the current players have a chance to be back “in” – including Merbanco, Renco and the Koenigsegg Group – if all parties can find a set of circumstances that will satisfy.
It’s a comedy to rival Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on first” and a tragedy worthy of Shakespeare – all at the same time.
Meanwhile, Spyker are reportedly heading to Sweden this week to take a sniff around, but as much as I like their cars and Victor Muller’s charms, one finds it hard to believe that they can get a deal off the ground – from scratch – in a time that will satisfy GM.
Beijing Automotive (owned by the city of Beijing, ergo…owned by the government) have apparently nabbed the older Saab tooling they were after and news reports say they’ve got the OK for a multi-billion dollar line of credit from the Bank of China (owned by the Chinese government). So the government’s OK’d a loan to itself? That doesn’t explain yet how GM (owned by the US government) will sell it’s latest technology in the form of the new Saab 9-5 to one of GM’s own rivals in China.
So the big question, based on Djup Strupe’s intelligence and my own knowledge of Who’s on First is this: who’s going to give a little in order for this deal to get back on track?
Merbanco were not invited to negotiate further and Renco have now left the room. Those are the two remaining parties (after Koenigsegg’s withdrawal) who had the financial wherewithall to get this done. And yet all three could be back in if someone flexes a bit and allows the deal to get done.
I think it’s fair to say that this is a buyer’s market, so it’s either going to have to be GM who flex, or the Swedish government who will have to go an extra mile (they have a lot to lose here, too, remember) in order to get something across the line.
Thanks to Djup Strupe(s) once again.

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by Swade

Saab has at least a month, and what the GM decisions means

December 2, 2009 in News

I’m trying to keep up with the news, but the truth is, you guys in comments are much faster :-)
The money quotes right now….
Henrik picked this one up from the press conference:

I recognised the reporter who asked the question he´s Swedish. He asked if the deal has to be finished in 30 days, or if the evaluation is for 30 days, and the GM official answered that the evaluation is for 30 days, if there is a viable buyer, then it will be persued!
Deal has more than 30 days then!

That’s good confirmation of how we thought things might run. GM will look over the bids until the end of the month and if one is viable then it seems they’ll allow Saab to operate to a date when that deal can be concluded.
David G Mills, who’s been an attorney for the last 32 years, summed up the encouragement we should all get from this decision, quite nicely:

This is standard language when a buyer is interested in what a seller has to sell. Obviously if there is more than one potential buyer, one potential buyer should not be able to find out what kinds of offers the other potential buyers are making.
This is quite positive. I take all of this to mean that GM found the potential buyers to be quite serious, financially credible, and quite capable of making a genuine, serious offer to purchase Saab in the very near future.
Obviously GM and its board of directors must do what is in GM’s best financial interest. If GM will lose less money on the sale of Saab than it will in closing down Saab, the board owes a duty to GM to go forward with the sale. If GM can actually cover its losses and actually make a profit on the sale of Saab, then there is no question a sale will go through.
The board is duty bound to the GM shareholders to look at any offer that is legitimate and that would work out to GM’s benefit. This is especially true because of GM’s bankruptcy.
I figured an extension of the decision to sell or close Saab would occur if the buyers were at all serious, financially credible, and capable lessening GM’s loss on Saab.

If I might add my own 2 cents here…..
This is a major, major turnaround from the GM board. Do not underestimate what’s happened today.
Word via Djup Strupe is that GM previously, some time back in October, had a clear plan internally that if something happened to the Koenigsegg bid, then Saab was toast.
This decision is a credit to Jan-Ake Jonsson for his presentation, a credit to joran Hagglund for his engagement, and most of all, a credit to one or more bidders who have presented sale scenarios that made the GM Board sit up and think.
Thanks for your contributions………

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by Swade

Djup Strupe: BAIC still hanging around in Trollhattan

December 1, 2009 in News

And I wasn’t supposed to do any more writing for another 24 hours……pffft
As regulars here will already know, Djup Strupe is a multi-headed monster of inside information and with things going haywire at Saab right now, there’s plenty to see.
I’ve just received another piece of Djup Strupery and it’s most interesting in the light of recent comments made by Wang Zadong, the head of BAIC.
It’s public knowledge that BAIC intended to be a minority shareholder in the Koenigsegg Group, having pledged to take what could have been up to a 20% stake in the new ownership group when it got established. A few weeks ago we learned that part of that deal included the possible transfer of the outgoing Saab 9-5 and the Saab 9-3 (pre-2006) to BAIC for manufacture in China, for the Chinese market.
It should be no surprise, then, that people from BAIC have been in Trollhattan preparing for this transfer.
What’s interesting now, however, is that since the Koenigsegg Group pulled out of the Saab deal, the people from BAIC have still been seen by Djup Strupe, working intensely in Sweden with regards to these models.
It’s considered likely from Djup Strupe’s observations and perspective that BAIC are still working directly with Saab on this transfer, which theoretically could give Saab a funding boost to help with extending the time they’ll have available before needing to transfer to a new ownership group.
This would seem to fit with Zadong’s comments.
They don’t need a factory. They don’t need more robots. Figure it out.
My take from Djup Strupe’s observations: What they’ve been after is models for expansion both domestically and internationally. They can read the writing on the wall and know they’re probably not going to get new technology from General Motors in the form of a full Saab acquisition, but they at least want to secure the semi-modern technology that was until so recently within their grasp.
Late mail.
I also have it on good authority that the Merbanco group from Wyoming “would be pleased to chat” with Mr. Fabela and Koenigsegg if they get hold of Saab.
I gotta get some sleep….

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A look at the state of play with Saab

November 23, 2009 in News

We’re on the cusp…… so here’s a little official and non-official info to start the week.
The deal
The word out of Sweden is that Koenigsegg Group and Saab are all ready to go. Everything is prepared for immediate startup once they get the nod. What we’re waiting for now is approval from Europe with regards to the ruling on state aid, and then the final EIB loan guarantees from the Swedish government. Every indication so far is that the government will give their support, so it’s just the EU we’re waiting for now.
A whisper has come through from elsewhere in Europe hinting at December 1 or 2 as a possible date for the EU approval. I have nothing to substantiate this, but Saab Cars North America using November 30 as a deadline for cancelled dealerships indicates that maybe my source has heard the same things they have.
Beijing Automotive
Part of that deal coming off is Beijing being included and one of the obstacles to that is GM being OK with their inclusion. Sure, GM may be dealing with Koenigsegg and not Beijing directly, but you can bet your bottom dollar they’d find a way to shimmy out of things if they felt too much tech was flowing somewhere they didn’t want it to go.
Indications from Sweden are that that side of the deal is all stitched up, too, with clear limitations as to what can be used by BAIC in the future.
The plans to remanufacture previous Saab models look like going ahead, with the outgoing Saab 9-5 and the pre-2006 Saab 9-3 (no, that’s not a typo) both being candidates for manufacture there. The level of modification or re-design that would take place is not known.
The dealerships
This has been the big issue of the last week in the US and will possibly continue to be prominent in the next week or two. Losing one third of your major market dealer population is no easy proposition and whilst a handful of those dealers will shrug it off, there are a number of very sad dealers and customers in various parts of the US right now.
It’s my understanding that appeals will be considered early this week, so we may hear some good news by the weekend.
It’s also come through to me that the total number of remaining outlets – given at 137 at this point – could comprise both dealerships as well as service-only outlets.
There was news in the Canadian market last week, too, which is encouraging. I’m expecting some news about the Australian situation in the next week or two. It’ll be very interesting to see what happens here in Oz, as the impression I get is that many Holden dealers that received Saab took it on because they were told to, not necessarily because they wanted to. It’s not the case everywhere, but let’s just say It’ll be interesting to see where Saabs are sold here in my little home city in six months from now. That goes for a few others, too.
The cars – 9-5
The date I keep hearing about in terms of widespread availability is April 2010. I’ve heard dribblings of information about earlier dates for some European markets, but April is the one that keeps popping up in relation to the US. We here in the antipodes will probably have a month or so longer than that to wait.
The cars – 9-3
Production will likely gear up as soon as the deal is done so that they can start pumping out 2010 models and get them to markets around the world. Dealers need these like they need air to breathe.
Several people have indicated that Saab are going to cease the incentive offers which might be likely for 2010 models onwards, but I have a hard time seeing them clear 2009 model 9-3s without big deals.
(btw……I think the whole no-incentives thing is good, but it makes me wonder about combined GM dealerships, which will likely be offering incentives on their Caddys, etc, on a rolling basis)
There’s even been unconfirmed indications that prices will go up, which I hope means that they’re going to jack up the equipment levels in the 9-3, in line with the premium segment they’re aspiring to. Hirsch leather interior as standard, anyone? I wish.
The cars – 9-4x
Whispers have come through on the wires that Saab’s diesel problems will likely mean a US-only launch of the 9-4x at first. The European market needs a diesel and whilst Saab are probably chasing one down as we speak, there’s no quick fix when it comes down to matching it with a pre-existing vehicle.
Will it premiere at a US auto show in the coming season? That’s the other big question.
The cars – a new Saab 9-3
Spies whisper that work is coming along nicely on the car, which has now progressed so far that it’s earned its own internal nickname. I won’t spill the beans on what it is, but interestingly, there’s a similarly named project that involves windfarms, which should make Maud happy.
You are now up to date.

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Djup Strupe and the Saab 9-5

November 4, 2009 in News

The good news:
Installation of tooling for the 9-5 wagon sedan is going to schedule and should be largely completed by the end of November.
The not-so-good news:
A decision has apparently been take to postpone setup of the tooling for the new Saab 9-5 SportCombi, possibly for up to six months. Maybe less.
No other Djup Strupery for today, but if it were like this, I’m not sure I’d want to hear it anyway.

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Monday Morning schnitzels Snippets

September 14, 2009 in Saabology

Time to catch up with a few of the stories floating into my inbox whilst I’ve been travelling.
The Wall Street Journal has an article that I can’t see as I’m not a subscriber. The headline says enough, however….
Access to GM at Question in China Bid
The undelying premise here is that BAIC previously bid for Opel and were unsuccessful, reportedly due to concerns about intellectual property. How true that actually is, we may never know.
But if GM did rebuff BAIC on technology grounds, then the big question is whether or not GM can have any sort of Veto in the Saab transaction.
BAIC, remember, haven’t done a deal with GM here. They’ve done a deal with Koenigsegg Group, who are now party to a binding share purchase agreement.
If all goes through, then BAIC would get some level of access to GM technology through Saab’s current model line.
Do you remember this car?
The car we’re referring to is the one to the left…… the 9-3 with the black wheels and extended wheel arches, etc. There was a lot of theorising in comments to that post about what the car could be.
Today I’ve heard from a Djup Strupe based in the US who’s spilled the beans on exactly what it is (or was, more accurately).
What we were looking at there is a test mule of a Cadillac BLS-V. A car that will never exist.
What’s a trifle annoying about it is that it was fitted with the kind of powertrain that many of us wish the Turbo X would have had from the beginning.
The engine in that mule is basically a working version of the conceptual engine mentioned in press materials for the Saab Aero-X. That is, a high-feature V6 with twin turbos and putting down around 400hp and 500nm of torque.
The vehicle was apparently in development until the BLS was ditched. Rumour is that it’s not going to feature in any vehicles, but the other rumour is there’s another vehicle, in Trollhattan, with that engine fitted for some initial evaluations.
That vehicle plan will likely go the same way as the BLS plan. But it’s interesting to know. I’ll have to keep an eye out for it later in the week.

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Djup Strupe and Saab production

September 11, 2009 in Saabology

I received a note in the last 24 hours from a new Djup Strupe.

The following is un-verified, but in the spirit of mythbusters I’m going to label it with a ‘plausible’ rating as it all sounds quite possible. Likely even.

There’s only some short bits, but they’re good’uns.

Firstly, work is currently underway installing the tooling for Cabriolet production.

In the pipeline ….. the tools for the new 9-5 will be installed in November when there is a two week stop in production.

At present, they are producing some new 9-5s in Trollhättan but the bodies are coming out of Russelsheim.

If they’re not running factory tours at the moment, the new 9-5 getting put together would be a good reason as to why.


Oh, and there was this, which I’m pretty sure at this point is just someone with a creative sense of humour :-)

Click to enlarge:


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Mike Colleran named as future Saab USA chief

September 3, 2009 in News

The following was received by Saab dealers in the US this morning….

Today, I would like to announce the next step forward in anticipation of a renewed Saab presence in North America with the appointment of Michael “Mike” Colleran as President and Chief Operating Officer of Saab Cars North America.
Mike has been a member of the Saab USA team since 2005 and most recently served as Sales Director for the General Motors Premium brands which include Saab, Cadillac, and HUMMER. Mike started his career with General Motors in 1989 after serving in the U.S. Military and has served in various sales, service and marketing roles during his twenty-year automotive career.
As we ready to finalize the sale to Koenigsegg group AB in the next months, Mike will be forming a new Saab team with the responsibility of preparing Saab and its partners for independent operations in North American markets. Those appointments will be announced at a later date.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you again for all for your unwavering support during the last months and I would ask you to remain focused as we move into the next exciting chapter of Saab Automobile’s history.
Best regards,
Jan Åke Jonsson

I don’t know anything about Mike Colleran, but this is good news, especially given the recent perceived instability in North America.
People are wondering how Saab’s distribution channels are going to work in the future. We don’t know the answer to that question, but at least now we know that the guys in charge are working on it.
My best wishes to Mike Colleran and the team he puts together at the new Saab Cars North America (which incidentally, covers Canada, wouldn’t you think?)
Thanks to Djup Strupe