You may or may not know it, but Saab were actually pretty determined that they were going to go it alone rather than seek a buyer, such was their own confidence in the business plan they’d put together. The search for a buyer began when the Swedish government refused to support Saab with loan guarantees unless there was a new owner on the scene.
There’s little doubt that a lot of things will have to go right for the Saab-Koenigsegg deal to work out. There’s a lot of potential there, that’s for sure, but it ain’t going to be easy.
Koenigsegg’s purchase of Saab gives Saab a lifeline of sorts. It gives them time to release new models. It gives them massive marketing impetus. It gives them a shorter distance from the decision makers to the difference makers.
But does it Koenigsegg something as well?
Ny Teknik explored this idea in an article last week. ctm was kind enough to provide a translation, as follows:
Koenigsegg’s bid on Saab is an attempt to save Koenigsegg – not Saab. With the help of Saab’s development department and loans from the state, Koenigsegg can realize their plans for electric or hybrid-powered sports cars. Automotive journalist Norbert Andersson provides this analysis.
Koenigsegg is just the shiny facade: a small manufacturer who sells one car per month and has never made a profit. The money will instead come from Råde Eker and company Projectiondesign, a manufacturer of video projectors. It is also Eker’s money that has maintained Koenigsegg.
This small manufacturer of supersportscars for ten million each has a tough situation on the market. In order to broaden the market, Koenigsegg wants to develop a cheaper car designed by Bård Eker. What’s missing is money. And it is here that Saab engineers enters into the picture. In addition, Saab may receive state aid to develop electric or hybrid technologies, a technology that Koenigsegg want to build into their cars. A more “down to earth” sportscar from Koenigsegg could also be marketed through Saab dealers.
But the question is what Saab gains? Bård Eker has no experience of running an automotive company. He has very little capital. The 300 million Kronor he wants to get by selling shares in Projectiondesign is enough to perhaps run Saab for some weeks. Saab’s loss last year were 3 billion Kronor and the figure this year will be higher.
No until 2011 can Saab be profitable, according to the company’s CEO Jan-Åke Jonsson. In order to survive in the meantime, Saab want loans which the Swedish state will guarantee. But this will require strong guarantees from the owners so that the state will not have to take over Saab if the business plan fails.
Given that the Saab’s business plans have always failed, there is little or no trust that it will survive this time.
Through negotiations, GM probably wants to force other interested parties to put in a serious bid. Because if Saab goes bankrupt GM loses all the 10 billion Kronor that Saab owes them. In addition, they will miss out on the revenues on license fees for the GM technologies found in Saab cars. Even with Saab’s relatively small production, it amounts to hundreds of million Kronor per year. In addition to this, Saab in the future has to buy components from the GM and let GM’s Mexican plant in Ramos Arizpe produce the 9-4X.
Is there any benefits for Saab to have Koenigsegg as owner? Yes, in marketing, where they can be associated with expensive sports cars.
But what is that worth if Saab gets an owners without financial resources and without cooperation with a large manufacturer that can help the Swedes with development, components, and purchases?