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
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.

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