Some final thoughts before the announcement about the fate of Saab

As I write this, were still possibly 24 hours or more away from an announcement. Therefore, I don’t intend to update too much beyond this entry unless there’s some material information that we’ve just got to know.
Who am I kidding? I’ll probably be back at it tomorrow morning…..
But most other things seem almost trivial by comparison at the moment. It feels like I’m studying for a university exam all over again. Nothing else really matters but that huge thing that’s bearing down on you, immense and overwhelmingly important.
Eggs, you’re all clear to call if something breaks. I’ve already told the Mrs I’ll be sleeping on the sofa the next couple of nights 🙂
For what it’s worth, here are my final thoughts on what we’re going through and what might be to come.
Vale Koenigsegg
It’s my personal opinion that the best outcome back on November 23 would have been for the Koenigsegg deal to continue through to its conclusion and for Saab to go on under that umbrella. November 24 saw things take a different turn, though.
Much as I’ve come to enjoy my contact with Merbanco (I believe they’ll be great owners for Saab and hope hey get the nod from here), it’s always easier to maintain momentum than to build momentum.
I believe that Koenigsegg and Saab navigated some of Swedish business’ unprecedented waters – not without incident – but they did a great job against incredible odds. I believe they got monumentally skewered by a government riveted to its ideology and only now prompted into action by the jolt of KG’s withdrawal.
It should never have got to this and I really hope Koenigsegg and Saab can still partner up in the better times ahead.
Cowboy up!
We’ve had a bigger-than-expected amount of contact with Merbanco, who are one of the prospective buyers for Saab now and it’s been great that they’ve seen fit to make regular contact with their possible future customers.

Merbanco have stated that they’ll most likely stick to the basic framework of the business plan that’s been developed by Saab. Providing they pass muster as an owner, which I’m sure they would, this would give Saab the same access to the EIB loan they’ve already applied for. This really is going to be a key element to Saab’s future as it will allow Saab’s tech people to take the shackles off and show what they can really do in terms of green technologies.
UPDATE – The EU is still deciding about the veracity of loan guarantees offered by the Swedish govt. They say they only got final details from Sweden last week, which could be indicative of the delays that caused KG to pull out.
The other big part of that business plan is the sale of older Saab models to Beijing Automotive. It’ll be interesting to see if that goes ahead (I think it will) and wasn’t that mention of a XWD twin turbo 900 cabriolet quite enticing?
And speaking of Beijing….
A #99 with rice, please
Beijing Automotive (BAIC) have indicated that they’re still interested in Saab, though the quotes don’t lend a whole lot of clarity to the question as to whether they’re interested in owning Saab, or acquiring certain bits of Saab.
Peronsally, I just don’t see a scenario where GM could sell Saab as a whole to BAIC and satisfy their needs to:

  1. protect Buick in China
  2. protect their IP in general
  3. get the deal done in a suitable timeframe

For these reasons, I only see BAIC as a possible minority owner of a new Saab, at the most, or a recipient/buyer of older Saab technology at the least.
I definitely think there’ll be a relationship between BAIC and Saab in the foreseeable future. It makes too much sense for it not to happen.
The invisible hand of Ira Rennert
News services are still mentioning Renco as a possible buyer but there’s been no confirmation, denial or even a ‘hmph’ from Renco’s offices on the matter.
Renco will face a certain amount of unpopularity as a corporate parent because of their other interests, particularly when it comes to lead smeltering in Peru. That operation is currently on hold due to supplier and debt problems, but Ira Rennert has definitely got the money and the connections to do something with Saab.
Without knowing what his intentions would be, it’s difficult to make any sort of judgment as to what might happen. As a Saab enthusiast, therefore, I’m left with making a judgment based on his form guide, and Rennert’s past form tells me I’d prefer it if he stayed away.
Better the devil you know?
Of course, GM themselves have to be considered here. Could they keep Saab and with their somewhat renewed balance sheet, transfer the assets from old GM to new GM and pick up where they left off some time ago?
It’s a possibility. It’s not one that I like to contemplate for too long, but it’s a possibility.
Perhaps our time is better spent thinking about what GM might be considering as they ponder the future of Saab. I tend to think they would prefer to sell the brand to a buyer who can achieve a quick outcome for them.
They would want someone who can close on the deal and they would want it done ASAP. They initially set a deadline of December 31st and they’ll want a done deal as close to that date as they can get.
I can see GM extending that self-imposed deadline if there’s sufficient justification for doing so (see: Opel). But anything that will take too long (like tech protection, see: BAIC) will go in the too hard basket and the main option there will be liquidation and the closure of Saab.
I guess that brings us back to Merbanco and Renco. Who’s asking for what? Who’s offering the best deal and who can close that deal quickly?
Sentiment doesn’t come into a decision like this, but GM owe Saab a chance to capitalise on the models that have been developed and come out the other side as a viable premium niche player. It’ll be extra business for them, too, with Saab needing to share parts and technology with the old mothership for some time. Small potatoes to GM, but it’s something.
Saab deserves a life. They’ve worked so hard at this and there really is so much promise in what they can do with the right owner.
It saddens me that the Koenigsegg deal couldn’t be finalised, but hopefully the light that was there at the end of that tunnel will inspire all concerned to come to the table and get something done that’s a win-win-win for all concerned.
My personal hope now is for Merbanco to win the day and get Saab back on the fast track. If that happens, then I’ll happily give Santa the day off later this month.

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