Tuesday Snippets – viscious circle of Saab edition

What a frustrating night!
What the heck did we all do before the internet happened? My ISP tells me that service is now restored at home (I’m writing this from elsewhere at the moment) so hopefully all will be normal again this evening.
My thanks to Eggs for keeping things ticking over, as well as my big sister for helping out – and of course to all of you for your patience and willingness to pitch in.
I’ve spent all morning catching up on what I missed overnight.
It seems Saab are stuck in a viscious circle of needing government support, which won’t come unless they have a buyer. Of course, a buyer will want to know that things are going to develop in some way, which won’t be possible in the near term without government support, which hinges on a buyer, who wants to know that the government are on board……
And so it goes.
Here are the links I’ve been catching up with this morning:
Saab laments mixed messages from Sweden (The Local)

Tensions were high during a debate between Sweden’s enterprise minister Maud Olofsson and the CEO of Saab Automobile televised on Sveriges Television (SVT) Sunday night…..
….”We get mixed messages from the government,” said Jan Åke Jonsson, whose company entered a court-supervised restructuring on Friday in an effort to stave off bankruptcy…..
Jonsson added during the broadcast that Saab had been contacted by several potential buyers were interested in the company, including investors and other auto manufacturers. But before any possible purchase moves forward, Jonsson said the government needs to send a clear signal regarding state-backed lending guarantees.
“It’s important for us to get a signal from the government. I think the signals we’ve been getting from the government have been different,” said Jonsson.
To illustrate his point, he explained that the government had said previously that Saab should request a loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB), but that Olofsson is now saying the application should have been made by Saab’s owner General Motors (GM).
Saab has, according to the Dagens Industri (DI) newspaper, submitted a request to the EIB for a €500 million ($647 million) loan. But before a decision is taken, the EIB wants to know whether or not Sweden will provide state-back loan guarantees.
No guarantees are expected, however, until Saab has presented a credible business plan.

Just a quick note….I can confirm from speaking to people at Saab last week that they did indeed submit a request to the EIB for that loan. I’m not sure why The Local is reporting it just as a Dagens Industri thing. I’m sure if they’d asked, then Saab would have told them.
Saab has potential buyers (The Local)

Struggling car maker Saab has received interest from a number of potential buyers, the Swedish government said on Wednesday, refusing to divulge any names….
….”There are some interesting names,” he said, disclosing no details.
Meanwhile, Saab’s managing director Jan Åke Jonsson said the interested parties were “from the automobile industry and outside the industry,” both in Sweden and abroad.

Kudos to Maud Olofsson for showing up for a meeting in Trollhattan. I’m sure the locals gave a warm reception, despite the fact that she seems more intent on telling GM off like a misbehaving teenager than what she is on saving their jobs.

Sweden’s enterprise minister Maud Olofsson praised Saab employees following meetings with company representatives on Monday, while at the same time chastising General Motors for abandoning the troubled Swedish brand.
“I am not thinking of letting GM get away from this so easily,” Olofsson said a midday press conference in Trollhättan, home to Saab’s main Swedish operations.
….”We’ve had a very positive conversation with Saab’s leadership, but also with a number of works on the factory floor,” said Olofsson at a midday press conference in Trollhättan.
She also stressed the importance of Saab’s workers for the company’s future.
“Employees are Saab’s primary resource,” said Olofsson. “It’s good that the employees have so much faith in Saab.”

More faith than what you’ve got, toots. Anyway, I hope she gets her stuff sorted, and soon.
Swedish PM Fredrik Reinfeldt spell it out….(Reuters)

The Swedish government can guarantee a European Investment Bank loan to General Motors unit Saab if a new owner that can cover half the necessary financing emerges, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said on Monday.
Loss-making Saab sought protection from creditors this week to survive the current global economic malaise and buy time to find a new owner after GN decided to cut its ties with the unit by the start of 2010.
Reinfeldt repeated the government did not want to own Saab but said it could guarantee a loan for the company if the carmaker found a new owner to keep it running.
“Either GM change their decision on the exit or a new owner or a group of owners will come forward,” he said.
“If there is an owner that provides half of the resources, we can put up a state guarantee for the other half.”

Put Nomura Securities on your “don’t do business with because they’re stupid” list. From US News

“In its Swedish home market, it ranked behind Volvo, Volkswagen AG and Toyota Motor Corp. in market share last year.” Mike Tyndall, an analyst with Nomura Securities, told the Star, “I don’t see how you make it more profitable than it has been. Unless there is something glaringly obvious that GM missed, which I doubt.

GM didn’t miss things with Saab? How about R&D, model development, marketing…..the list goes on.
And it seems GM had little-or-no warning that Saab were going to file for reorganisation last week, which is a good sign. From Automotive News (sub):

General Motors executives were surprised by the speed at which Saab filed for bankruptcy last week, leaving them with few answers for anxious U.S. Saab dealers…..
….”The GM leadership was surprised by the filing and didn’t know it was coming, so they are going through scenarios right now that they don’t have the answers to, such as buying back inventory and so on,” said a Saab dealer who listened to the broadcast.
A GM spokeswoman said the company had no advance word about the timing of the filing. Although GM owns Saab, it had moved to set Saab up as a separate entity with its own board.
“We knew a filing was a potential, but it could have happened this week or later,” Joanne Krell, spokeswoman for the Saab brand in Detroit, said Friday. “It just wasn’t entirely clear.”

Why good news? Saab are taking the initiative. Which is what an independent company does.
Finally, a list of Saab’s creditors, who will all be consulted as part of this reorganisation process.
It gives you an understanding of how big a reach even a small company like Saab has. I’m sure there’s not a large number of companies here who are solely dependent on Saab, but even if it’s just 10% of them, then a liquidation would cause massive disruption in a lot of communities.

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