On the day of the Annual Shareholder’s meeting in Holland, there’s reason for cautious optimism of production starting back up in about a week. But first Victor Muller faces a firing squad from Dutch investors association VEB. Meanwhile, BAIC’s VP Mr. Dong, claims he’s not too worried about Saab’s plans to compete with a new MJV, but just comes off sounding like a jealous ex.
From TTela (English translation), a story about the he said she said going on between the government, GM, and the EIB. Hakan Skott is left wondering why the government can’t just take an official stance on Antonov. The government says it’s GM’s fault and their opinion doesn’t matter. Who’s to blame?
Well, if Victor Muller and Vladimir Antonov’s teams can do anything about it, their opinion won’t matter long. From Ola Kinnander of Bloomberg in an interview with Victor yesterday:
“I’m very confident Pangda is well-equipped to ensure the regulatory approvals will be obtained,” he said.
Muller also said a top priority in the coming months will be to try to secure a commercial loan to repay funds to the European Investment Bank.
The EIB, the European Union’s lending arm, agreed last year to lend Saab 400 million euros, of which 217 million euros has been drawn. The loan, which is guaranteed by the Swedish government, comes with conditions, including restricting use of the funds for specific engineering projects.
“After the Pangda deal is implemented, my focus is going to be finding a new CEO and getting a commercial loan to take out the EIB,” Muller said. “We cannot be dependent on the government or the EIB for whatever we do with the company. We have been paralyzed, we cannot move left or right.”
From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20110518/AUTO01/105180327/Saab-to-restart-assembly#ixzz1MmfcNezQ
In another story from TTela (English translation), Gunnar Brunius gives an updated estimate of next weekend for production to start. Plastal, the company that makes plastic bumpers for Saab, was ready to lay off 50 employees before the Pangda deal. There’s hope that won’t be necessary, and a number of other suppliers are ready to negotiate deals once longer term financing terms can be agreed to.
However, all is not well with every supplier. Lear, who makes the seats we all love, served layoff notices (English translation) to all of it’s employees (I’m not sure how that works really, what’s left of the company in that scenario?). Negotiations are under way with the union to manage the transition, but the company hopes that the layoffs never actually happen and that they receive payment from Saab. Let’s hope that they don’t have to follow through with this.
Meanwhile, Victor Muller faces some angry shareholders from dutch investor group VEB. In a story from di.se, they explain how they don’t feel that Victor has quite earned his bonus. Perhaps they think he hasn’t put in enough hours on the job and should give up more sleep?
“The bonus is disproportionate. Given the large financial losses and poor sales, we wonder what objectives have been achieved that may justify a bonus,” said (David) Tomic (an economist with VEB).
Most people know my and other SU writers’ opinons on this subject– no Muller means no Spyker or Saab. The bonus comes out to around $710,000, hardly a huge sum in the realm of executive compensation. Perhaps next year his salary could reflect a much smaller bonus, but seeing that this one includes his successful acquisition of Saab, I think he deserves something for accomplishing the deal in the first place. Enough on that though, VEB won’t let up.
They want to question Muller about whether or not there was more tension between Victor and Jan Ake than was revealed to the press. As if they’d give them that answer? They’re basically calling Jan Ake a liar after he’s said repeatedly he simply is ready to spend time with his family after 40 years straight of work. Give the man some space. VEB’s tone is not surprising though, considering they think Victor Muller runs the company without any accountability to shareholders.
“The company needs a CEO who reports to the Board. Muller is already behaving as if he runs his own company and does not care so much about the shareholders,” Tomic said.
Perhaps he’s just running the company as well as he can since he has so much skin in the game himself, seeing that he’s one of the largest shareholders. Just a hunch.
Chinacartimes.com has a very deep piece about BAIC’s feelings on Saab’s new positioning in China. Suffice it to say, they sound like an ex-girlfriend who is pissed off at seeing her old flame find someone new. She’s also pissed that he’s been working out and has new platforms to show off. BAIC’s new slogan philosophy for their Saab-based models?
“From Saab, Better than Saab.”
Ha! Classic. You know, because a gussied up 9-3 or 9-5 is bound to be better than one without compromises designed by Saab engineers who designed the original version. “New things may not be good things,” said Mr. Dong, VP of BAIC. They claim they’re not intimidated, but what else can they really say? You wouldn’t want to tell your ex that you’re jealous.