Bo Andersson on Saab and separation

The following article was published today in the Swedish publication, ctm has been kind enough to do a translation and mail it through.
Bo Andersson is a Swede, and one of GM’s most important executives. He heads up the purchasing department, responsible for billions of dollars of expenditure right around the world.
Back on February 20, Saab would have had some concerns with purchases. They not only had a lot of bills to pay, they also had plans to bring the 9-5 back to Trollhattan and the required tooling was initially supposed to be taken to Russelsheim.
Those concerns are now sorted, as you’ll read below. It doesn’t sound like Saab will be able to lure Andersson into a more relaxed lifestyle back home, but his role in securing Saab’s future right now is important anyway and I’m sure it’s appreciated by all the executive in Trollhattan.
GM will pay the production tools for the new Saab 9-5, despite the fact that both companies are under reconstruction. That is the statement from Bo Andersson, Group Vice President, Global Purchasing and Supply Chain, and part of GM top management. But the future of Saab is nothing he want’s to talk about.
As more and more candidates leaves, there are more and more question marks about exactly who are willing to go all the way and buy Saab. Bo Andersson is not one to speculate.
– “It would be wrong of me as a member of the executive board. We paid the suppliers in February. It’s now up to the reorganization lawyers to find a solution.”
The managements involvement in the work to sell Saab is kept to a minimum after a bankruptcy judge took the helm at the US operations.
– “We leave that to the Saab management and the lawyers. As you know, we have many other things to work with.”
GM is still involved in Saab’s purchasing operation.
– “We have a service contract with Saab where we make sure that our suppliers continue to support Saab, and then they get paid through the reorganization lawyer. We have given Saab an allowance so they have enough money to survive in the short term.
The question wether or not the bankruptcy judge will demand that Saab pay their debts of almost 10 billion SEK to GM is another thing he wont discuss.
– “That would be pure speculation on my part to answer that. We have to wait and see.”
GM has previously promised to make available for Saab all the tooling needed to produce the new 9-5. That being up in the air is not something Bo Andersson agrees on.
– “As an executive board we have stated that we are prepared to finalize the development work on the 9-5 and move it to Trollhättan.”
The tooling for the car is paid by Opel, and the plan calls for Magna to move in as Opels new owner. But Bo Andersson does not see the owner situation as a complicating factor.
– “No, we still do business as one global corporation and the tools that are being completed in Europe – it’s about a cost of about 150 million Dollars – is something we will pay for.”
Since the platform for the 9-5 is the same as for the Opel Insignia and the Buick Lacrosse, Bo Anderssons view is that it is impossible not to pay some part of it all.
GM’s Chapter 11 will make it to the history books. During the good times, the company spent all the money on growing. When good times turned in to bad times, there were no money left.
– “It’s always easy to be wise with the history in your hands. We thought the good times would continue.”
According to Bo Andersson, it’s easy to state today that they should have seen the change coming.
– “I’m honest when I say that we bet all our cards on expanding our business and all of a sudden we were grasping for air. It was partly a misjudgment, or exaggerated optimism.
Will you continue working for GM?
– “Currently, I have enough to work with here and I feel that I’m needed. The U.S. Government has expressed their satisfaction with how the purchase operation works.”
He believes that a reconstructed, debt free GM will have a strong position on the world market with the models that they already have or are planning to launch, like the Chevrolet Volt.
– “There is nothing that doesn’t permit us to be a strong player. We are still today a major player. Our largest brand is Chevrolet and we are successful with that brand in the US, Latin America and Russia. Buick is the largest brand in China.”

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