Thursday Snippets – Lost edition

I really don’t know where to begin today.
So many opinions, so many headlines. Most of them have been covered in comments already, but I suppose my task is to sort the wheat from the chaff.
Armchair quaterbacks
There’s a bucketload of these going around at the moment. Automotive ‘analysts’ who most likely don’t even think about Saab until a journo rings them up and asks for an opinion. Most of them will be quite dismissive and give a summary comment like “GM will shut down Saab. It’s just not worth them thinking about”.
I’m happy to be as dismissive of them as they are of Saab.
It may well turn out that Saab does not survive this episode. That can happen. But having followed this story for almost a full year now, I know from various contacts inside and outside of Saab that work is going on in the background at a furious pace. They are not lying down.
If Saab is closed, it won’t be because of a lack of work in Sweden and won’t be because there’s no potential there to build something.
Problem Mathematics
I still can’t get the collapse of the Koenigsegg deal to add up.
fabela.JPG Fabela says it was a complicated deal involving a lot of parties and they weren’t able to get all the parties moving at a quick enough pace. See the interview here.
But the money was just days away. This has been confirmed by Joran Hagglund and the Swedish Debt Office. They would have been up and running an just a few weeks.
Were their margins for time so incredibly fine tuned that 10-14 days is the killer difference?
He says they no longer believed that the business plan they’d developed could be delivered because of the delays. Again, this is the business plan that was reviewed by so many different bodies and approved, yet it was not robust enough to last a few more weeks?
I just doesn’t add up.
And in the next sentence he says the plan was strong and viable.
The money was just a few weeks away. So a strong and viable plan should have been able to be implemented. Didn’t this strong and viable plan go up to December 31st, the date GM had set for Saab?
I just does. not. add. up.
There must have been something else at play here. There is an unseen hand at work with one of these players that has folded this thing up. There’s no other explanation.
A gutsy appearance
CvKfactory.jpg You’ve got to tip your hat to CvK and Eker for visiting the Saab factory today to try and give some account of what went wrong. By all accounts they were shown some support by the people there, which is the right thing.
Things have gone wrong here, but CvK & co have had a genuine crack at this. The bigger fault here may lie with GM and Deutsche for selecting them in the first place. But I digress…..
CvK said to TTELA that “It was important to come here and tell us more about why we pulled ourselves out” but from the Googletrans that I can see, there doesn’t seem to be too much more of an explanation that we’d already heard.
It’s a Maud, Maud world
If there’s one thing that’s really annoying in all this, its the point scoring exercise going on between politicians in the Swedish media.
Thankfully, in between volleys, Maud Olofsson did have a few things that were notable and sensible to say:

  • A new buyer coming in is going to have to be able to get the deal tied up quickly. They will need to be well backed and well resourced.
  • The government will work with whoever it is to do what they can to get things done, but they won’t take a stake in the company (which we all know)
  • The EIB loan process that’s been undertaken so far was tied to Koenigsegg’s plan. Any new potential owner requiring and EIB loan would have to start the process over again.

That last one’s in bold because it’s pretty important.
A final clip, from Automotive News:

A Swedish government official said today that General Motors Co. appeared to still have hopes of being able to sell its Saab unit after the wheels came off of a planned divestment this week. “I talked to GM last night and my impression is that they have not given up hope,” Joran Hagglund, state secretary at Sweden’s Industry Ministry, told reporters.

And for those of you thinking that GM might still retain Saab, you’d best bear in mind the news from Germany:

General Motors Co. expects to cut around 9,000 jobs at Adam Opel GmbH, or nearly 20 percent of the ailing German carmaker’s work force, as part of a $5 billion restructuring, a top executive said Wednesday.
Nick Reilly, the head of GM’s international operations and interim CEO of Opel and its British sister brand Vauxhall, outlined the planned cuts, which were slightly fewer than anticipated, but said no decisions had been reached regarding plant closures.

Cutting 9,000 jobs in Germany and then finding a viable excuse to keep 4,000 in Sweden?
Good luck selling that one to the German government just before asking for aid.
Saab need to be sold. It’s the only viable way to survive.

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