First of all, the following is intended to again draw attention to the Swedish government’s lack of commitment to the Swedish automobile industry. I am not necessarily advocating spending the taxpayers’ money, although that would certainly be in everyone’s best interest. I am however reminding people that the government are still dragging their feet when asked to approve Antonov as a major shareholder of Saab. It seems as if the government are pushing EIB to not approve Antonov so the public won’t realize the government are actively trying to bury the automobile industry.
In any case: I find it both interesting as well as annoying the way politicians twist and turn around the issues at hand.
An excellent example is Maud Olofsson’s infamous letter to Mr Antonov.
Two quotes stand out:
As the first country in Europe we launched a special automotive package. In total SEK 28 billion was set aside.
In most cases these solutions do not include the involvement of the Swedish government, but when they have done so we have been keen to act.
Notice the way she phrases “have been keen to act”. She does not say “we have resolutely acted” or anything that might mean that they have actually done something. She is not telling us a direct lie, but rather neatly sidesteps the question completely.
It is a very irresponsible and dishonest way of conducting government business.
We did not comment on this at the time, because it is very obvious what is being done. I half expected the Swedish press to dig into this, but I guess they have long ago stopped trying to get a straight answer from those in charge.
Let us step back in time to see what has been done (or not). I am sure most here remember Swade’s appeal to the Swedish PM back in November 2009:
Saab, whose future may be decided by owner General Motors Co. next week, has asked the Swedish government to make as much as 5 billion kronor ($717 million) available in emergency loans, and to inform GM of this before a board meeting on Dec. 1.— As reported by Bloomberg in 2009
That is admittedly a hefty chunk of those 28 billions that Maud brags about. Anyone care to guess what the reply was? That is right:
28 billions SEK is a good chunk of money. So far, 3 billions have been spent to form the venture capital group Fouriertransform. They in turn have invested 356 million SEK in 11 companies (including a spinoff from Saab Powertrain Europe – Vicura AB).
As far as I can tell, only a little more than one percent of those 28 billions have actually been put to any use. If Fouriertransform picks up the pace, we will be looking at a 10% usage. This is still a far cry away from the number Maud presented.
Swade already explained the reasons why, back in December 2009:
Because any money borrowed has to be paid back within six months. This is the car industry, where you may not see returns on an investment made today for another three years.— Swade, explaining the basics to the Swedish government
A six month loan is not a sincere offering of help. It is a good slap in the face though.
To sum up: The Swedish government does not want to contribute any money or loans, but they do take an active role in
actually running ruining the company. This is in stark contrast to their own policy of not being in the business of making cars.