On Koenigsegg buying Saab

I wrote last week of my opinion that the battle for Saab was basically down to Renco and Fiat.
That was before the Opel decision. And I think that Opel going to Magna basically takes Saab out of Sergio Marchionne’s calculations. Saab would have made a nice compliment to Opel if he’d got his hands on the German manufacturer. It would have given him a premium, though small-ish, dealership network in the US and some extra value in terms of cars that had tie-ins with other cars he’d be building already. Now it’d just be a whole lot of extra red-tape and negotiations for little extra margin, and that’s not what Serge is about.
I think Fiat’s most likely out of the game now. But that’s just my opinion.
So bar any epiphany that sees Deutsche Bank go back to previous bidders that might have been good for Saab, that would suggest that Saab is Renco’s for the taking. Renco have storm clouds hovering, though, and that’s as good a reason as any to hope that Dagens Industri were telling the truth last week when they said that Koenigsegg are working like a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest to prove that they are a viable buyer for Saab.
So here’s a few thoughts about the whole issue about GM, selling Saab and selling Saab to Koenigsegg in particular.

Read moreOn Koenigsegg buying Saab

SOTW – When green Saabs were really……green

Can you remember a time when car companies used to make cars that were ‘green’ regardless of their fuel economy?

Back in the mid 1970s this was as green as a Saab got. Regardless of its color, it was possibly ‘greener’ than most other cars due to Saab’s great little four cylinder engines.

SAAB 99GL Auto 002.jpg

This car belongs to Phil D and it belonged to his father before that. It’s got less than 60,000 miles on the clock and has only recently been “re-kermitted”, which looks sensational. I think that’s done via a kermittment ceremony 🙂


SAAB 99GL Auto 003.jpg

Initial thoughts were that this might have been a show car, from Earls Court back in 1975. Phil’s recently noted that the lack of a hatch might count against it, however.

Regardless, its great to see these old-timers still on the road and looking so fresh.

Targa Tasmania 2009

Time for a Sunday tension reliever.
Living in Tasmania can be a pain sometimes. The fact you have to jump on a plane to go anywhere is inconvenient and costly. The fact that our extended families all live either on the mainland or overseas is also difficult.
But it has its good points, too. And for me as a car enthusiast, the roads are definitely one of them.
Every April there’s a tarmac rally called Targa Tasmania. You’ve heard me talk of it before and I covered the event quite extensively a few years ago when a mate of mine, Dan, entered his Saab 99 Turbo in the event.
After the jump, I’ve assembled a series of Youtube videos covering this year’s Targa. If you’ve got an hour or so to kill then I can highly recommend you relax and take in some spectacularity (a new word, being the collective spectacular nature of the scenery, the roads and the cars).
If you are using Internet Explorer, then there’s a chance the site will crash if you try and watch these videos here. I’d highly recommend getting Firefox.
If you’re one of those using IE, then part 1 of this series is here.
If you can traditionally view videos here OK, then Targa Tasmania awaits after the jump.

Read moreTarga Tasmania 2009

About comments…..

I’ve never needed to write or implement a hard comments policy. Neither here at Saab United or previously at Trollhattan Saab. The fact that I’ve never had to do that is something that I’m quite proud of. We have a good community here, with respectful people making good contributions to discussions – which is exactly the way Id like to keep things.
With that in mind, I’d like to offer the following guidelines.

Good sportsmanship on the football field implies that the ball is the objective, not the man with the ball (rugby and gridiron fans, please think of other codes of football – ones where kicking the ball with one’s foot is a big part of the game).
It’s the same in comments.
The ball is the issue at hand and your opinion should be confined to that issue. No personal references to other people should be made (unless you know them personally and know they’ll understand where you’re coming from).

Poor characterisations based on race, religion, gender etc will not be tolerated. End of story. This is non-negotiable and it doesn’t matter whether you’re referring to a fellow commenter or a person of note within Saab or government, or whoever.

The key to everything is to write with respect. It’s OK to be witty about GM, government or whoever else, but there should always be an underlying respect. If you’re being satirical then that satire should be obvious.

Make your point.
If people respond to you and you need to explain something about it and reiterate your point, then fair enough, but the repetition of the same thing over and over again will not necessarily help your case (especially if your case is based on a negative opinion).

Be reasonable. Listen to others and be willing to accept their point of view. You may not agree with it but they have a right to their opinion, just as you have a right to yours.
It’s the reasonable discussion of these differences that makes for healthy debate.

I think I’ve only ever banned two or three people from commenting at TS and SU. I don’t have plans to ban any more, but don’t tempt me. I’m very tolerant and will go to lengths to help people understand what’s OK and what’s not, but that isn’t an open-ended thing.
What I’d like is what we have here 99.99% of the time – reasonable, insightful, intelligent and entertaining discourse.

Thanks for your attention to this matter.

Some post-Opel analysis about Saab from Sweden

The ink probably isn’t even laid down on the Opel deal yet and the Swedish press are seeing it as a bad day for Saab.
ctm has provided the following reports; one a translation and one a summary of some general themes running through the media.
First, the following report from e24.se
Saab is a vulnerable prey. A sensible buyer must be selected if the brand is to survive long term. That excludes Koenigsegg and the environment vandal Ira Rennert. The speculation about who the three final bidders at Saab Automobile are goes on with great frenzy.
But let us reverse the argument: Who could be Saab’s dream buyer?
Those who with very high probability still remains in the picture are Fiat, the controversial American billionaire Ira Rennert through the Renco Group – whose main business is mining and metallurgical companies, where he has a documented bad environmental reputation – and the Swedish sports car manufacturer Koenigsegg, backed by a consortium of wealthy people. Just outside is where the parts-giant Magna, which yesterday signed a preliminary agreement to buy Opel, lies like the Old Maid. It appears that Chinese Geely is no longer in the running. So: who can save the heavily loss-making Saab for the long term?
The main criterion for a dream buyer can be summarized in two words: big bucks.
It is especially relevant in a situation where it is very uncertain whether or not Saab may write off debt at almost 1.3 Billion USD which they owe GM if GM is forced into bankruptcy. Can Saab write down the debts they still need about 1 Billion USD before they can show a positive cash flow in 2011, all according to the reorganization plan.
But that is probably not enough. Saab needs a higher volumes, fast. According to the reorganization plan Saab will sell 130,000 cars in 2011. But that does not mean long-term profitability. For that, Saab needs higher volumes.
These will not appear until the new and smaller 9-3 model. And that one is four, maybe five years away. That means even more money for development.
Then it is, to say the least, good to be part of a larger family and be able to share technologies and costs. The obvious would be to be in the same family as Opel, which they now share technologies and manufacturing lines with. Even the coming new 9-3 will share technologies with Opel.
Then Magna would be a good owner. Magna also has cooperation with the Russian Gaz and support from the Russian bank Sberbank.
Magna Russian partners has the added benefit of access to the important Russian market. The only problem is that Magna does not seem to be interested in Saab.
Both Koenigsegg and Ira Rennert, that in practice lacks both industrial and market opportunities, looks like bad alternatives in the long term – even if they in the short term would seem to be able to save Saab and get money from the Swedish Government and EIB loans.
Fiat had been an excellent partner – if they got Opel. But now their interest in Saab would be minimal – and the benefits of Saab for them is also small: Fiat is not in a position to invest in new models and in practice lacks market access in Asia.
But we do not know exactly what lures in the dark in Trollhättan. Maybe Saab has some other dream buyers tucked away, even if the chance appears minimal.
However, Saab took a small formal step on the chaotic path yesterday. Then they received information that they may continue their reconstruction to August 20. But in practice, they only continue until they run out of money sometime in the Summer.
And secondly, a summary of some thoughts running through the Swedish press today:
I can tell you that the comments in Swedish media today are not that optimistic about Saab after the Opel deal yesterday. The reasoning goes like this:
Fiat lost Opel and thereby Saab doesn’t matter for them any longer. They see no synergies in just getting a small plant in Sweden + a brand that somewhat have the same mojo as Alfa Romeo.
Magna got Opel and can’t afford Saab as well.
Swedish Govt. demand production to move to Sweden (from the Magna plant) in order to get financial aid. Is that what Magna really wants?
GM has said that they want to get rid of Saab. Magna is now in bed with GM. Why should they want a deal that keep Saab inside the GM-Magna-Opel sphere?
Opel is so much bigger and there operations is not as streamlined as Saabs. It costs so much more to run, and Opel is not a worldwide brand. Still, it only took weeks to have a new owner when the situation became desperate. Saab has been working for months to find a new owner.

An open letter to the Swedish government – Renco

May 30, 2009.
Look, I haven’t made a big deal out of this because that’s not really my way. I like to make my point as best I can in a reasonable manner and let it sink in.
But in this instance, time is near and this is important. Hence, I’m publishing it again.
May 11, 2009
Longest intro in history….
OK. Before I get on to addressing my concerns, I’d just like to acknowledge the fact that some people here won’t agree with my stance on Renco and their bid for Saab. That’s OK. People have their opinions and they’re entitled to air them and have them taken seriously.
But this is an important moment. Saab’s bidders are being considered right now. Not next week, but now. And I’ve got pretty solid info from several sources saying that the Renco Group are one of the bidders, and quite possibly in with a shot.
This is a situation that I don’t think I can let pass without covering some information in the hope that decision makers will know that Renco have some opposition in the marketplace.
And let me say right now that whilst I introduced Renco the other day as being the company behind the introduction of the Hummer to the consumer market, my opposition to Renco taking over Saab has absolutely nothing to do with Hummers.
Read on.
And to those who’d prefer just Saaby stuff, I hope to get back to that soon. But this is a moment in time that can’t pass without comment.

A few days ago I revealed here at Saabs United that an American private investment firm called The Renco Group was one of the bidders to take over Saab.
Earlier today I posted some pointers on who some of the decision makers are with regard to Saab’s future ownership.
Right now I’d like to address one of those decision makers – the Swedish Government – regarding the character of one of those bidders: the Renco Group. The more I’ve looked into this group and the man pulling the strings, Ira Rennert, the more uncomfortable I am with the possibility of Renco being successful in their bid for Saab.
A few dot points, all of which are a quick Googling away if people would like to know more.
— Mr Rennert was recently listed at #57 on Forbes’ list of the Top 400 richest Americans with an estimated nest egg of $6 Billion. Bear that in mind when you read some of the things that follow.
— Renco is a private holding company owned by Rennert and it has interests primarily based in the following six companies – a partial holding in AM General (makers of the Humvee), Doe Run Peru, Baron Drawn Steel Company, Doe Run Company (US), Unarco Material Handling and US Magnesium. As a private holding company, Renco does not have to disclose as much financial information as companies listed on the stock exchange do.
— Of concern are Renco’s dealings with Doe Run (the US company), Doe Run Peru, and the predecessor to US Magnesium, which was called Magnesium Corp.
— Additionally, there is a long history documented online of Rennert financing the growth of his operations via junk bonds, using bankruptcies to avoid obligations and abandoning stakeholders and responsibilities. BusinessWeek have a comprehensive history of Rennert’s methods, written a few years ago.
— Renco was ready to walk away from pension obligations for a steel mill it owned until the US government began to persue his private assets to pay for the pension plan
Some more detailed info…..

Read moreAn open letter to the Swedish government – Renco

Weekend snippets – a whole lotta nuttin going on

It’s the weekend here and there probably won’t be that much writing going on. It’s been another gruelling week with plenty to report on.
I’ll be spending most of my weekend looking up Mazda parts that I can’t afford and when I’m not doing that, I’ll be putting together an all-new site from scratch for my wife. She’s just started to sell some of her paintings and wants to put them online.
This time yesterday, Opel belonged to GM. Now there’s MOU’s being prepared to sell it to some Canadians.
How’s that for change?
Since Reuters picked up on the Koenigsegg news, stories of Saab’s suitors have spread around the ‘net like wildfire. It’s great to see Saab get so much positive press, though the web publisher in me is a little frustrated about that fact that we’ve been covering these bidders right from the get-go and Dagens gets all the links.
I don’t want or need the recognition, but the inward linkage from so many highly ranked sources would have been very good for the future of this site.
About those stories then…..
These are just a few. It’s great that the stories are so positive, but perhaps what’s even better is the goodwill in comments to those threads.
Just about any story to do with Saab over the last few years has been laced with anti-GM snickery. This makes for a very pleasant change, I think.
Jalopnik: Koenigsegg wants to buy Saab
Motor Trend: Chinese out, Koenigsegg in as a potential Saab suitor
Autoblog: Koenigsegg a finalist in bid to buy Saab
Autospies: Koenigsegg is top remaining bidder to buy Saab
Edmunds: From jets to jets? Koenigsegg may buy Saab
Autocar: Koenigsegg bidding for Saab
The Motor Report – Koenigsegg keen to keep Saab in Sweden
Leftlane News: Koenigsegg interested in purchasing Saab
Auto Evolution: Saab Battle Down to U.S. Billionaire Ira Rennert, Koenigsegg
EgmCarTech: Koenigsegg is bidding for GM’s Saab
The interesting thing is that whilst all these reports are pretty much based on the initial Reuters story, they all care about one thing – Koenigsegg.
That’s where the interest is here and it’s this interest that Saab could tap into from a marketing perspective and capitalise on.
I hope Koenigsegg are working their tails off to get their best bid possible on Deutsche Bank’s desk. They’ve got a heck of a lot of good will behind them.

Magna to take over Opel

This has just come in via news alert from Automotive News.
Thoughts on what Fiat might try to do in response are welcome in comments.

FRANKFURT (Reuters) — General Motors and Canadian auto parts group Magna International Inc. have reached an agreement in principle that could rescue ailing German carmaker Opel, sources close to the negotiations said today.
The two sides have been trying to agree on a memorandum of understanding that would serve as the basis for bridge financing of 1.5 billion euros ($2.10 billion) as well as a trustee solution that would protect Opel from creditors in case parent GM files for Chapter 11 in U.S. bankruptcy court.
“A framework agreement has been reached. The goal is to work out as many of the details as possible before the meeting with (Chancellor Angela) Merkel in order to sign a memorandum of understanding today,” one source with knowledge of the talks told Reuters.

The rest of the backstory is here.

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