It’s Tuesday in Australia and every indication right now – even from the Swedish press – is that Tuesday’s going to be a big day for Saab in Sweden.
The signals coming though say that the Saab sale will be closed on Tuesday. Money will change hands and from some time of the day – as yet unknown – Spyker Cars will be the new owners of Saab Automobile.
I’ve spoken with Victor Muller in the last 24 hours and indications are still a little fuzzy as to exactly when it will happen. But the good news is that it will happen.
From what I’ve heard so far, there won’t be any big sort of fanfare, not even a big physical press conference in the traditional sense. I’m sure there will be a press release, however, and some sort of interaction. As usual, I’ve got someone on the ground there who will hopefully be able to fill us in as soon as there’s a story to tell.
As soon as I know something, you’ll know it too.
My uniform for the day….. 🙂
I want to talk just for a moment about the Automotive News article that hit the wires earlier, suggesting the recruitment of a few former Porsche executives to Saab.
Spyker CEO Victor Muller said earlier this month that he is looking for two “heavyweights” from the car industry to join the supervisory board of the combined Saab-Spyker.
Two names that should be on the top of Muller’s wish list are Wendelin Wiedeking and Holger Haerter.
The dynamic, but recently discredited, duo might relish a second chance at turning a broken brand into a success.
Wiedeking, 57, became one of the most-acclaimed — and highest-paid — industry executives after he saved Porsche AG from bankruptcy in the early 1990s.
Like Saab today, Porsche was in financial trouble two decades ago because of a weak model lineup and a production system that needed an upgrade.
Wiedeking secured the struggling small company’s survival with innovative methods along the entire manufacturing chain such as the “Porsche improvement process” and “process optimization through supplier involvement.”
Next to Wiedeking, Haerter is most closely associated with Porsche’s transformation from a financial basket case to one of the most profitable carmakers in the world. The 53-year-old economist from Bad Kreuznach, Germany, made the company billions through shrewd investments such as his successful hedging of Porsche’s exposure to the weakening dollar in the middle of the 2000s.
I was a little relieved when I re-read the piece just now and saw the specific mention of them maybe being considered for appointment to a supervisory board. Upon first reading, I’d subconsciously taken the article to suggest recruiting them to the operational management team. That idea made my insides scream a massive “Nooooooooooooooo”
A guy like Haertner may actually have a role to play. Saab will be in need of a lot of those backoffice functions that GM have performed on their behalf for the last decade or so. An experienced guy like Haertner could step right in and use his experience for Saab’s benefit.
Weideking, however, is an entirely different animal and one I’d personally hate to see involved with Saab.
The whole Porsche/VW fiasco of 2008/2009 was basically a big family feud between to incredibly egomaniacal cousins, hell bent on besting one another. Saab will definitely need their management to be the best they can be, but this man – in my own humble opinion – lacks the human element that makes Saab a storied brand.
Weideking only seems to know one way to work – his way. When he didn’t get his way in trying to take over VW with his sportcar/hedgefund company, there just wasn’t enough room at the top for both he and Ferdinand Piech, regardless of his role in Porsche’s success.
In short and from my reading only, he is quite possibly the polar opposite of Saab’s Jan-Ake Jonsson and I have a hard time seeing a guy like that succeed in a position anywhere near similar to JAJ.
No thanks. Not for me.
But the finance guy might be a winner.