Di.se speak with Lars Carlström (Genii)

Lars Carlström is a name that should bring a smile to face of any Saab fan when they hear it. He worked with several different parties over the course of around 12 months, trying to buy Saab Automobile from General Motors. The most prolific consortium, of course, was the Genii group, with Genii Capital and F1 boss, Bernie Ecclestone. There were even rumours at one stage, in the Swedish press only, that Genii and Spyker were lodging a joint bid for Saab.

Di.se have published an interview with Carlström today. I know from my own occasional correspondence with him (quite infrequent now) that he’s still very interested in Saab’s progress. I think that interest should come through in this interview.

Thanks to a few people in comments for the link.


UPDATE: I received an email from DI.se Editor-In-Chief, Linus Paulsson, requesting that the full translation I provided be removed from Saabs United (along with any other DI.se copyright material).

I have reduced the provision in this article to two important excerpts only, and am awaiting their permission, which I’ve requested, to restore the full article. It’ll be interesting to see how this develops.

“Deal of the Century”

….In January a year ago it was the home stretch in negotiations for Saab Automobile’s future. …. Financier Lars Carlstrom, who represented the Genii Capital, with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone on board, saw the Dutch Spyker, with CEO Victor Muller, emerge victorious from the battle…..

…..”This is the business deal of the century as I see it. GM had invested about 50 billion in Saab, and sold the company for pennies.”

……Now, a year after Saab got a new owner – how would you describe the time of the decision in January last year?

“It was a very strange situation and I do not understand why GM put such pressure on the process. The only explanation I have is a lot of pressure from the U.S. government.”

But GM still chose to reopen the closure decision to sell the site – why?

“For GM’s part would have been a better deal to the liquidation of Saab. Then you have no risk of preference shares, there was cash in the bank and so one might have sold off assets. But the attention around the company was enormous, not only in Sweden but also in the United States. “


That last part is particularly interesting – the interest around the sale of Saab.

Of course, there was a whole slew of news stories around the world about Saab Support Convoys being held in support of the company. That kept things in the news.

There were other news stories, too, such as the story broken here on SU about GM plans to ship 9-5 tooling to China (a story for which GM execs had to provide an answer at the Detroit Auto Show).

But Carlstrom had a massive part to play in this attention, too. There was no way that GM could get away with saying that interest in Saab wasn’t significant enough when there was more than one party interested in buying it, and especially if one of the members of that extra party is someone of the profile of Bernie Ecclestone.

This is a great piece for Saab and it’s very encouraging to see DI.se publish it.

37 thoughts on “Di.se speak with Lars Carlström (Genii)”

  1. Maybe DI thought that it was payback time after all the sh…t they have in there bag. They strike again when they feel it can hurt Saab any day.

    But hopefully Im wrong and they come to sens. They lost me forever anyway or. Finally I will say that they can win me back by supporting and choose to angle the facts in a different direction than in the passed. But they must prove it first.

    • Love you to turbin!

      At least I stand for a view and draw me not to criticize even if it could harm a magazine that actually damaged the Saab’s already strained situation in the past.

    • I´ve noticed that both at DI and other web-polls the wind has turnes significally in Saabs direction the last months or so, the comments that are Saab-positive always get high scores and the negative gets low. This is also true at for exampel AMS.se but it has been so for a longer period. Small signs, but signs none the less.

      • I think you are right Henrik!
        Hope it continue that way, bad press is the least Saab needs when they desperatly need sales worldwide. That´s actually why I wrote bad things about DI (they took the whole blame, so to speak and that defend turbin-sorry for that).

      • +1

        Of course the regular forum trolls still are there, but a majority of the comments are positive; people praising Saabs design, one guy talking about replacing his Audi for a Saab etc. Small steps forwards.

  2. Well, the more we learn of the development processes within Saab, and their conttribution to GM overall, the more we need to wonder why GM kept Opel, but (partly, as I love to remind everybody 😉 ) sold Saab. Of course, Opel has more engineers and facilities, but still.

    Governmental pressure might be a reason, right.

    • Governmental pressure may be one reason, but the more obvious, at least to me, is the fact that without Opel GM would have had to re-start from zero their operations in Europe.

      • I think you are spot on with that analysis. GM could have chosen to sell Opel (and get rid of some legacy infrastructure and potential union strikes), but would have lost a huge market in doing so. Being so reliant on scale I think the Opel volume just couldn’t be disregarded from. At least not since new vehicles were coming out and the business case started looking a little more favorable again. That being said, it is unfathomable how SAAB could ever have been a “nice fit” in the GM organization – the mentality behind car production and the recipe for success were just so different.

      • In the AutoLine After Hours webcast referred to a few posts ago Lutz speaks clearly about negotiations with government during Chapter 11. He points out that gvmt primarily looked at progress in historical sales figures and therefore whacked Pontiac and Saturn, the latter being an easier decision since Saturn sales didn’t take of even with a fresh line-up rolled out. Opel probably were to big and positioned in an important market (Europe) to drop just like that.

        • It has been repeated on a regular basis that GM did not really understand how to handle a premium brand. In this regard Opel is a good fit for them. Whereas Saab is a very different story. With the 9-5 they did indeed the same mistake as before: launching the premium model after having launched other models based on the same platform leading to endless “Isignia” comparisons for Saab that are seen as a drag rather than Saab comparisons for Opel that would be seen as a badge of honour.

      • Given that every new significant GM-US model in the past year has been based on either Opel (with a lot of Saab) or Daewo R&D, I don’t see how GM could have sold.

        They would have been left with just trucks and the Volt, which won’t generate significant volume for quite a while. Even the “new” Cadillac XTS, scheduled to replace the DTS and STS, is mostly based on the 9-5/Insignia platform.

  3. From DI:

    The big car show in Detroit open their doors to the press on Monday. But Saab Automobile parked cars outside the fair.

    Auto show in Detroit is one of the most important in the automotive industry. On Monday released the journalists in to see the carmakers’ latest creations.

    But Saab Automobile has parked outside the show, reported Swedish Radio.

    “For a small fee we will receive massive attention, including the 9-4X,”said Victor Muller to echo.

    The company only sold about 30,000 cars last year, and that Saab imposed by the analyst is not worrying Muller who say they do not care what the experts say. If the sale “he told the Echo:

    “We are very optimistic that we will end up very close to the 80 000 cars, which we plan to produce this year.”

    Oh, aren’t they clever?!


    • 🙂 It’s pretty funny. No thank you we don’t want a square inside, too croudy, too expensive. But is it ok if we use your parking lot outside? Smart move to attend while not attending.

    • Great PR trick! Generates publicity. Saves money. Demonstrates outside the box thinking. Not like the other regular guys. Just like the Saab driver.

      • You really used the right words for i: “Not like the other regular guys”. Sooo true! Just a brilliant move!

        • Ok, it is a good move from Saab, but not that original. At the Saab festival in THN this summer the local Volvo dealer parked every day a XC60 and a S60 among the parked cars at the Saab Museum. 😉

        • Very funny and clever, especially to call it the SNO-HÜS, given how cold and snowy it has been in Detroit with all the Lake effect snow in the last week. This was super clever, and as I said before when Swade posted the invite, actually might be even better than being on the show floor- less distractions from other press events that are happening all around the crowded show. Captive audience before or after the show singularly focused on Saab. And I can tell you first hand, Saab knows how to cater these things to make you feel welcome.

          Note that Nissan and Infiniti aren’t in Cobo this year either. 😉 Hyundai however is and check out their new concept, which if simply tweaked to have Saab details, is proportionately a rip of the old 9-3x concept, and has get this- a 1.6L turbocharged engine. Pisses me off. I want the Saab version, even more than I want the 9-4x I will probably end up buying. Soon enough.

      • In that case it’s worthless to have a stand inside the fair complex as well since you probably will be close to competing car brands.

        • Agreed. I sensed a bit of a zing in the Autonews report. I say the M-B will draw attention to the Saab display.

          • Some surrounding luxury indoctrination could be a good thing. Would be worse if there were Corollas or tacky Chevy Cobalt posters all over the place and people running for free balloons and cake.

    • Perhaps I should explain what “the echo” in Smithy’s English translation means. In Sweden there is a news program called “Ekot” (English: “The Echo”) on public service radio channels (Sveriges radio). Victor Muller has thus been interviewed in this program, and Dagens Industri (DI), an economy newspaper, refers to that.

  4. It will work fine if weather is good, press people are not going to stand in a rain and heavy wind, or in a very cold or dark.

    But Saab needs that sort of unconventional solutions if they are going to make it.

    • Finally someone got it in the UK!

      The new Saab 9-5’s handling is safe and secure, and the silky smooth ride makes it a tremendously comfortable motorway cruiser. Whereas this variant has no ambition to be a sports saloon, the steering is sharp enough to inspire confidence and the body roll – so long as there are no excessive heroics – is minimal. It simply wafts along without fuss and cossets its luxury loving occupants.

  5. Nice to see DI.se play nice.

    Judging by this review it looks like Saab’s recent update of the 9-5 2.0Tid has put the smile on this reviewers face.

  6. Automatic translation is not perfect. The translation of the first two senteces is erroneous but here is a better translation:
    “He did not manage to buy Saab, but thinks that Victor Muller is doing well.”

    Otherwise, nice to see someone being so positive, especially since it is in Dagens Industri. Lars Carlström should have pretty good insight, too. 🙂

  7. I don’t know if I would call it nice. They fishing like always for the doom and gloom answers. When will they die? How long will their money last etc etc. Only difference is that they are interviewing Lars and not some anonymous auto industry expert. Must been a mistake from their side.

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