A final entry with regard to remembering December 18. This information was sent through from a friend in Trollhattan.
First, here’s the front page of December 18’s print edition of Dagens Industri. DI’s web page has been particularly critical of Saab over the last 18 months, so it’s great to see them making some amends and giving Saab some of the credit they deserve.
The following is a partial transcript/description of what’s written there at DI.
The article starts with a description of the journalist’s – DI motor correspondent Håkan Mattsson – meeting with VM at the offices of Saab in Trollhättan in Western Sweden. “VM storms in to the room, stamps the snow of his feet and it is hard not to agree with former State Secretary Jöran Hägglund’s description of this mildly eccentric Dutch man: it’s like a kitchen fan entered the room.
Soon after, VM is joined by JÅJ, still CEO of Saab Automobile. He is as sullen and low key as VM is expressive, but what unites them is their stubbornness and determination not to give up. We were many that shook our heads at VM and laughed at JÅJ’s interpretation that every step towards the grave was in fact a victory. Even now, Saab is not permanently saved. Sales are down by 50%, important launches remain and there are question marks about investments.
But the fact remains – December 18 2009 Saab was closed, December 18, 2010 there are still cars being produced in Trollhättan.”
VM is quoted as saying that the company will not fail, even if it does not meet its targets next year.
JÅJ is quoted at length on how the company has been restructured.
The article goes on to the issue about Antonov: “Another person that is waiting for recognition is Vladimir Antonov, that indirectly is behind Spyker’s acquisition of Saab, but that has been barred by GM to be a direct owner in the Swedish company. The reason should be alleged involvement in criminal activities, including money laundering. But as DI showed earlier this week, two investigations show that there are no evidence for the accusations. VA is freed both in the report from US firm Kroll that was ordered by the Swedish government and the one he himself ordered from US firm IPSA.
VA: “I am not surprised, of course I am not involved in criminal activities”, he says on the phone from Vilnius, where his bank is located.
Q: Has the rumours affected you and your companies?
VA: Enormously. Following the publication of an article in your newspaper, our reputation was damaged severely. And once it is damaged, it is difficult to rebuild. I am in fact not sure how it can be done.”
VA wants to return as direct shareholder and is now trying to convince GM that they made a mistake a year ago.
“VA: We deserve to be shareholders in Saab”.
Q: What does Saab need now?
VA: “Dispel all dark clouds around the questions relating to who financed the purchase from GM. For these reasons, Saab is barred from all normal forms of financing in the capital market. But Spyker needs money to develop Saab, or the company will never be profitable. Take the small model, that needs 200 million Euro or it will never be developed.
Q: Are you willing to invest more?
VA: “I do not know. First, I must be freed from al accusations. But I still believe in the brand and the management of Saab.”
The article continues for another 3 pages.