When Saab were up for sale, there were a number of seriously interested parties.
The Koenigsegg Group used the Koenigsegg name, but were a group of individuals with various backgrounds in business.
Merbanco were a group based in Wyoming, USA, with extensive industrial and business turnaround experience. One of the guys involved with Merbanco, CJ, has been a regular in comments at SU.
Renco, a private company owned by Ira Rennert had interests in smelting, mining (which wasn’t too popular) as well as heavy machinery manufacturing.
The Genii name was used for a group put together by Lars Carlstrom, an entrepreneur in Stockholm. The group was named for Genii Capital, the investment group providing the core backing for the purchase. Of course, the group got a lot of media attention when F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone jimped on board. Genii was actually the third group that Lars Carlstrom put together in a bid to acquire Saab.
Beijing Automotive were also very interested and amongst the first round of potential buyers. Whilst they weren’t selected as one of the final bidders, they did proceed to buy some of Saab’s older technology.
It’s been interesting to see that several people from the groups named above have gone on to purchase new Saabs even thought their interest in acquiring the company as a whole didn’t bear fruit.
Christian von Koenigsegg had his new V6 Saab 9-5 delivered to him in Angelholm in early November. That purchase wasn’t too much of a surprise as he placed an order for it right after Koenigsegg Group walked away from the deal to buy Saab.
One story that may have slipped under the radar slightly is that of Mark Bishop, who was also a member of the Koenigsegg Group. Whilst I didn’t get to meet him, Bishop was apparently at the LA Auto Show last month and Valdemar Lönnroth from TTELA caught up with him there:
His interest in Saab is still strong – it was he who originally took the initiative to form Koenigsegg group.
– My wife is from Sweden and her brother works at Saab. I feel strongly about the brand and am pleased that Victor Muller succeeded. I have ordered a 9-5 Aero, which I will get delivered in days.
So that’s two members of the Koenigsegg Group who have picked up new Saab 9-5s. Bard Eker recently joked that they’re still going to buy Saab, just one vehicle at a time. ANA are awaiting your order, Mr Eker 🙂
This week I heard about a third former potential Saab buying picking up his new Saab 9-5.
Lars Carlstrom, from the Genii group, picked up his new Saab 9-5 from the ANA dealership in Trollhattan. He wrote to me about the purchase as did Claes Robertson, one of the guys from ANA (and one of the head honchos from the Saab Turbo Club of Sweden, too).
Lars sent through his thoughts…..
I hope all is well. Just back from Trollhättan where I picked up my new Saab 9-5 Aero 2.0T XWD (Oak metallic). I am so impressed by this car. You will have some shots from Claes Robertsson at ANA Trollhättan very soon.
And indeed, Claes did send through the photos, the first with him handing over the keys….
And the second of the happy owner with his new ride…
Lars Carlstrom was recently interviewed by a magazine called Art and Business in Poland. He’s sent through the following transcript from the interview, which relates to his interest in acquiring Saab:
4) You are known the best for quite of a time-breaking efforts to buy the car manufacturer SAAB. Can You shortly tell us what made you fight so strongly for this particular brand? ( other than financial matters?)
Well we lost the fight to Spyker Cars but we played an important role for saving the brand, I established three different consortium during a period of one year where the last one was the most famous adding Bernie Ecclestone to the group this was very surprising for GM to find him involved in the process, the global media attention was enormous.
GMs plan was to liquidate SAAB. This would have been more profitable and more secure solution for them as there was a large value in buildings, equipment, tooling and cash in the company. Compare this with selling the company to a small car producer where the risk to having it back in a financial worse situation together with all liabilities with employed and guarantees towards SAAB owners. This was the issue GM was dealing with, we managed however to create a large pressure on GM where the global media attention on our activities played a large role.
SAAB is a brand that creates passion and SAAB have always been a part of the Swedish soul. A liquidation of the company would have been so wasted especially in the good shape SAAB was at the moment, no debts two new developed car models, one of the worlds most modern car manufacturing plants, the situation has never been better and at the same time never been worse. The support from the Swedish enterprises was shameful no one wanted to touch SAAB and the governments support was even more shameful. Compare the Swedish support with Germany, France, Belgium and their incentives for the automotive industry. The Swedish enterprise minister said that SAAB is not worth saving its just an Opel with a SAAB brand nothing could be more wrong as a large part of the development for both SAAB and Opel was made in Trollhättan, Sweden. They did not even care about the fact that at least 10.000 people and their families were depending on SAAB so the reason for fighting so hard for SAAB was well motivated.
5) What is the situation after the acquisition for the moment?
The situation for SAAB at the moment is excellent. SAAB have launched their new 9-5, which has been well received by the automotive press (its a great looking car). The all new 9-4X will shortly be launched and [they have] also just presented their cooperation with BMW on engines etc, the future is bright and has never been better.
6) Looking back, would you again try to acquire SAAB and what lessons have you learnt?
I would probably do the same again but stay more focused with partners. The conditions during the process was extreme one of the worst global recessions the world have seen was a factor that made things so complicated.
That’s CvK, Bishop and Carlstrom ticked off with new Saabs.
All we need now are emails from Ecclestone, CJ, Ira Rennert and Bard Eker and the main players will be completely outfitted with new Saabs!
Gents, my inbox is open.