Saab Automobile are currently undergoing a process whereby they’re looking for a new owner.
Saab’s seemingly too-small size – something that’s made them something of an object of ridicule under General Motors – has served them well during this process. Saab’s comparatively small size, combined with their worldwide network and history of engineering and innovation, has attracted plenty of interest: 27 parties to begin with and about a dozen visitors to the factory.
Saab have begun the process of paring down these numbers to just two three, with whom they’ll have some more in-depth negotiations.
We’ve made plenty of well educated guesses at who these interested parties are. Representatives from Koenigsegg have been spotted on site. Same with Geely (regardless of what they might file with their local stock exchange). Swedish power group Vattenfall were spoken of early in proceedings and there were at least two seriously interested groups from the United States.
I’ve recently heard from several well placed sources that at least one of these groups is related to vehicle manufacturing.
You’ll be surprised.
AM General are based in South Bend, indiana, and they’re the company that makes the original Humvee military vehicle.
It’s my undertanding that AM General, however, are not looking to be Saab’s parent company. If things fall the way they propose, they would be Saab’s sibling.
Several sources have indicated to me that one of the US based bidders is a private investment company based in New York called The Renco Group, which is the parent company of AM General.
Renco have companies operating in several different fields and in several different parts of the world. From their own website:
Welcome to the Renco Group Inc.
We are a private holding company that invests in companies across a range of industries where we see the promise of quality and growth. Our long-term commitments through various business environments have provided our companies with the stability and support needed to enable management teams to maximize the inherent values of their companies.
We focus on helping all of our companies experience strong financial returns by supporting capital investment and retaining skilled and experienced management with appropriate incentives.
Our affiliated operating companies, which specialize in mining, mineral recovery, metals production and fabrication, and automotive assembly and fleet support are united in their commitment to environmental responsibility, to ensuring the health and safety of their employees, and to respecting and protecting the communities in which they are located. Through unwavering efforts to comply with government and industry standards, significant investment in innovative technologies and processes, and ongoing dialog with community members, each has made great advancements in these areas in recent years and is expected to continue to do so.
The Renco Group have several different companies under their umbrella.
AM General LLC is famous for producing the Humvee and HUMMER® motor vehicles. The company specializes in high-quality military and special-purpose vehicles and diesel engines to power its top-of-the-line trucks.
Baron Drawn Steel Corporation is a full-range producer of cold-drawn bar steel products.
The Doe Run Company is a privately held natural resources company and the largest integrated lead producer in the Western Hemisphere dedicated to environmentally responsible mineral and metal production. The Doe Run Company operates the world’s largest single site lead recycling facility located in Missouri.
Doe Run Peru is a mining and metals company that employs some 3,000 people at its operations in Peru’s central Andes. The company has run the La Oroya metallurgical complex since 1997 and the Cobriza mine in Huancavelica province since 1998. Together they produce high-quality refined metals while at the same time working to operate in a socially and environmentally responsible way.
Unarco Material Handling is a premier manufacturer, designer and producer of racks and material handling systems for warehouses, distribution centers, manufacturing facilities and retail stores. Unarco is based in Springfield, Tennessee
US Magnesium is the only producer of magnesium in the U.S. The company specializes in producing pure and alloy magnesium and other byproducts. US Magnesium obtains the majority of its raw materials from the Great Salt Lake and a smaller portion from its magnesium recycling process.
Whilst Renco’s business are varied, quite industrial, well described and most likely quite successful, their record isn’t as squeaky clean as you’d like it to be, though it’s getting better.
Renco’s owner is a guy named Ira Rennert. A quck search on Mr Rennert indicates a truckload of money, but in association with that is a trail of junk bonds, bankruptcies and questionable environmental practices.
To be fair, recent times have seen Mr Rennert’s companies clean up a lot of their environmental undoings.
A quick lookup on Wikipedia revealed the following:
Rennert was awarded the The Awful Truth Man of Year Award in 1999 by filmmaker Michael Moore, based on a 1996 EPA Report which lists Magnesium Corp Of America as the top single polluting industrial facility in the United States and a second EPA report from the same year which lists Renco Group Inc. as the top most polluting parent company (based on total on-site and off-site releases). However, as described below, Rennert’s companies have all made significant environmental improvements since being acquired by Rennert and Renco and the particular emissions highlighted by Moore have since been reduced by more than 95%.
So what of Renco’s bid for Saab?
Whilst their reputation could be judged as dubious, Renco’s interest in Saab is at the least, interesting.
The most prominent link is AM General. Saab began back in the 1930’s as a company needed due to Swedish military requirements. AM General had a similar birth, rooted back in the early 1900’s as the company that eventually produced the Willys Jeep.
They have experience in producing motor vehicles, albeit vehicles at the complete opposite end of the physical and philosophical spectrum.
Perhaps the most positive part is that they understand vehicle manufacturing, the need for technology and development.
And perhaps the most perplexing part is the question as to why a US based industrial group that only makes one automotive product is interested in a Swedish car company.
I’m unsure as to the status of Renco’s bid, but am quite confident in the information related to me – that they are a bidder.