‘Foul play’ and ‘plot’ speculation add to Saab saga

From just-auto.com:

SWEDEN: ‘Foul play’ and ‘plot’ speculation add to Saab saga

Author: Simon Warburton
| 24 October 2011

European automotive supplier association CLEPA says it is due to receive an update from Saab CEO
Victor Muller this evening (24 October) as speculation swirls of ‘foul play’ in the automaker’s latest developments to keep afloat.

Saab ended a deal with Pang Da and Youngman to purchase 100% of its shares as well as a subscription deal, but CLEPA says it now believes some of the speculation it has heard could have some foundation.

“Victor Muller of course has talked about foul play for two weeks,” CLEPA CEO Lars Holmqvist told just-auto.
“I started believing there is some foul play going on in some plot to get rid of Victor Muller and most of all [Russian businessman] Vladimir Antonov as owners.”

Saab administrator Guy Lofalk apparently travelled to Beijing recently to discuss the situation with Pang Da and Youngman, although it is not clear exactly what was on the agenda.

“To be very open about, I think…Lofalk has been telling them [Chinese] if they want they can buy Saab from the Swedish government by covering the value that they have been guaranteeing to the European Investment Bank which is something like EUR260m (US$362m), but that then they will get the full company,” said Holmqvist.

“If this is foul play, obviously we have to think about it as suppliers as a whole. The suppliers will have to look after their money.”

Despite the apparent rupture of the Chinese agreement, both Pang Da and Youngman representatives have been in Stockholm today to discuss the latest developments with Saab.

“There is no news coming out of these meetings,” a Saab spokeswoman told just-auto.
“If there is anything concrete to report, we will do that in a more official way.

The Vanersborg District Court was not available for comment.


78 thoughts on “‘Foul play’ and ‘plot’ speculation add to Saab saga”

  1. On the face of it, this seems like a response to speculation: “IF this is true and IF that is true, what do you think?” as a basis for an article.

    The bottom line seems to be that Holmqvist doesn’t know any more than we do 🙂

    • Not sure if he really doen’t know more but I’m pretty sure that he does not know everything. The most interesting thing is that he supports the conspiracy that Swegov and Lofalk had an agenda to kick Victor out.

      • Yup..That seems very strange.
        This is not really a guy I would suspect of supporting Conspiracy theories.
        But OK..It was him who blabbered out that EIB would never accept VA.

        Oh well..The stakeholders are wakening

    • it may be quite different whether we suspect something here as individuals or when CEO of CLEPA officially announces their standpoint. There should be a “wee bit” better established grounds or evidences at the latter case.

  2. We have independent confirmation from a few sources which prove that Guy Lofalk was traveling to Beijing the second time without telling Victor Muller, extremely credible sources at that who found out the moment that Victor did. Lofalk has denied that in interviews, which has eroded my trust in him. Not to mention the last time he went behind Saab’s back with Geely.

    This article quoting Holmqvist just confirms what we’re hearing from everyone.

    • I think it is really, really sad how this site have started to become! VM is not Messias and Lofalk is not Anti-christ! Stop trash talking people all the time!

      The main goal is that SAAB survives!

      • Right about the same goal. But if we heared from several sources that GL travelled without telling Victor should we be quiet about that?

        • Once again… What should Lofalk gain on this? He doesn’t have one share in SWAN… stop to speculate… and write up stuff when there are some hard facts. What about all the plans that VM had – but none have been delivered yet regarding money?

          • What IF some lobbies were trying at any cost to get rid of VM and not allowing money from investors such as VA and fooled everybody for a long time, needed to avoid the present situation ? I think it’s a valid question after all these strange ups and downs during the last months. Everyone on Saabsunited team post facts. They are careful enough to add a small description when writing personal comments, such as in “my 2 cents” or whatever.

          • I think it not relevant now to speculate on what GL would gain on this. We may learn it in the future. But the question is now what his real actions were in this spell and what were the consequences of them.

          • About 5 million SEK if he can be instrumental in keeping Saab alive? By a sale? No matter who to (think Geely action)? You could retire on that kind of incentive.


          • | “What about all the plans that VM had – but none have been delivered yet regarding money?”

            This is simply NOT TRUE.

            There were 45 mEUR and 11 mUSD payments from PD and Youngman respectively, there was 10 mUSD from NSC (for shares) and there had been several mSEK’s arriving from VA in the past as well as 255 mSEK income from the Real Estate transactions.

            It is easy to make your studies on recent or earlier SU posts and Swan press-releases to figure it out.

          • Sorry to inform you but Lofalk (or any other appointed admin for a company under protection has “negotiable terms”) which means… if you read any of yesterday’s criticism against him (from other sources but posted here..he has much to gain into the millions.
            that fact is indisputable but it also means he should try to get a good result not just a quick fix.

            The question is over the result he was seeking and wheather it was for himself or Saab.

            in the end it will not matter as Saab still have some savvy analysis people who can work out when they are being done, and what is a good deal and a bad one.

            fear not.

          • @ Gunteman

            Not quite, I guess. My reflection came exactly on his question: “What should Lofalk gain on this?” and my reflection on this was that it wasn’t important at the moment what he would have gained…

          • @Marque

            45M euro from Pang Da as prepaid cars
            13M euro from Youngman as prepaid cars
            11M usd from Youngman as phoenix platform license fee
            a unknown number of money from Youngman as buy share for JV of Youngman & SAAB
            10 mUSD from NSC
            255 mSEK income from the Real Estate transactions.

          • On the surface, not much, since a strong company at the end of reconstruction would be best for his resume. So, following Occam’s razor, one can only assume Lofalk is benefiting in other ways. Is it in the form of kickbacks being directed to an account in Switzerland or the Cayman Islands? Is it the promise of an executive position once a third-party is allowed to drive the price of SAAB down and buy it for a song? We can only speculate, but as outside observers it appears that his actions could only have served to hurt ongoing negotiations and PR, not help them.

          • I don’t think capital gain is the issue here but rather political clout. Again, imho, the Swedish government is just trying to get rid of Saab. Don’t know it’s just their delusional ideas about a service economy or some Swedish district politics going on, but they haven’t been exactly helpful. To give an example; there is no reason why they couldn’t have put the thumbscrews on EIB to accept Antonov as an investor after NDO cleared him from any wrong doings. Also, it doesn’t look like they were trying to sweeten the deal for the Chinese government, something that most governments would do to keep something as Saab alive.

          • gwadplus,

            You threaten someone with lawsuits for mentioning theoretic off-shore accounts and then you directly go referring money bags as to Victor Muller. Well, at least it’s fortunate you are not the implementing power of legal rights.
            OTOH, it is safe to say GL didn’t go “Yes Mr. Muller, no Mr Muller”, indeed he was more like ‘”No Mr Muller, I’ve never been to China”

            “All Lofalk is trying to do […] to make sure that the company could come out of Re-Organisation in a heathlier state than went it in”

            Apart from some broken deals with the Chinese, and some additional bad press along with confusion, what has he achieved? Even the suppliers association say something wrong is going on.

          • Got a good lawyer, kimvette? Because with comments like that you’re going to need one.

            All Lofalk is trying to do is his job. The court appointed him (with SWANS approval if you remember.) to make sure that the company could come out of Re-Organisation in a heathlier state than went it in. All he is tryiing to do is safeguard the future of the company and the many thousands of people in Trollhatten and around the world who depend on Saab to pay their mortgages.
            What he isn’t there to do is to sit there going “Yes Mr Muller, no Mr Muller, three bags full Mr Muller.” Thats the real problem here. SWAN thought they could control the Re-Organisation and sideline Lofalk. All Lofalk has done is taken his job description seriously.

          • @gawdlpus

            > Got a good lawyer, kimvette? Because with comments like that you’re going to need one.

            You obviously do not understand what libel is (and I am stating that as a fact).

            Libel is when you state something you know not to be true as declarative fact. I was posting my opinion, and how something appears, not something that is since we don’t have all the facts here. Opinions are expressly not libel.

            Hope this helps.

        • Kimvette, I don’t argue you with you but where in my post does it mention libel? You have suggested in your post that Lofalk is accepting money or favours in his dealings with Saab. My guess is most judges would see that as either slander (saying something that is untrue that harms a persons reputation) or defimation of character. Libel can also be interupted in a number of ways too. You are speculating about Lofalks morals but you are doing so in a written form so it is open to how Lofalk might view it especially as you actually name a way that he might benefit from any wrong doing.
          Its the same reason why the print media or websites don’t print the secrets they know to be true about certain celebrites. Standing in a courtroom saying “Well it was only my opinion that so-so liked having sex with otters,” usually doesn’t get you very far when you are under oath unless you have proof.

          • Libel is printed, slander is spoken.

            Speculation, opinion, and even statements made declaratively but no reasonable person would believe to be true (i.e., if I were to declaratively state “Lofalk eats babies!!”) are not libel (if written) or slander (if spoken). Likewise, defamation of character cannot be tied to speculative questions nor opinion, but to libelous statements.


            Besides, if posing questions is libelous, the site admins here would be guilty of it for posting this speculative piece to begin with. There is nothing wrong with posing legitimate questions and no matter how you paint it, posing legitimate queries regarding questionable acts of (apparent) malfeasance or misfeasance is not libelous by any stretch of the imagination. Again, HTH.

          • Furthermore, in no case did I make declarative statements about the situation at hand – others have. So, by by stating I have and by making veiled threats here, I would go so far as to say that you yourself are guilty of libel toward myself. 🙂

          • (ref below)

            Don’t be ridiculous, didn’t threaten you, tried to warn you about cases that I have heard of in the UK with regard to actions against websites where statements were made that were ‘opinions’ rather than fact. (especially with regard to the Jo Yates & McCann cases.)
            If you want to wander across here making unproven statements, doesn’t matter to me but may end up causing issues for the people who run the site.

            I hope that helps.

          • @gawdlpus

            > Don’t be ridiculous, didn’t threaten you, tried to warn you about cases that I have heard of in the UK

            What does the UK have to do with me? 🙂

            > with regard to actions against websites where statements were made that were ‘opinions’ rather than fact.

            Were they (worded as declarative statements and presented as fact in such a way that a reasonable, sane person would believe it to be fact), or (posed as questions or opinion)? If the former, therein lies the problem. In any event it does not apply to my post, so please, just shut it before you make yourself look even more ridiculous.

            I know, I shouldn’t waste time feeding the troll. I offer my apology to everyone else for taking the bait provided by gawdlpus.

  3. What are you replying to? The post you replied to was not even close to speculating about messiah’s or antichirsts. I guess it should be better sticking to the topic and refrain from posting off topic impertinences.

  4. Of course when Vladimir had a chance to get in after all of the hoop dancing and getting approvals he decided to put his money into the UK and some Siberian mines? Sounds like Saab became a magnet for abuse by everyone involved.

    And remember Vladimir, according to Victor furnished the money for the GM buy out so it is not like he is out of the picture.

    • Antonov never got a chance to become (co-) owner of Saab. He was approved as such by the Swedish Riksgälden/NDO but the EIN simply blacklisted him from day one. All the subsequent investigation reports confirming his integrity were just not considered relevant and won’t be in the future as well, EIB made that much clear.

      It is true that he could be considered co-owner via a back door construction, i.e. as money lender to VM’s investment vehicles at the time of the sale of Saab to Spyker but never officially as long as the EIB has any say-so in the matter. Someone would have to pay off the EIB debts and then, maybe, VA could be vetted positively and buy himself into Saab. I guess he got fed up with that situation and decided to put his money where it was welcome.


  5. You know, it seems to me that Guy Lofalk is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. Being administrator for a reconstruction like this with thousands of jobs and millions of Euros worth of assets at stake must be the most stressful and complex of work. Every move that he makes seems to be subject to conspiracy speculation. No indication that I have seen suggests that he is doing anything other than exploring options and trying to get potentially interested parties together and facilitating discussions, and as a result looking after the best interests of the creditors, as required by his appointment. Perhaps we should give the man a chance and not necessarily believe and publish what may actually be deceits or propaganda disseminated by vested interests. He is in post and we have no choice other than to hope he succeeds to engineer a satisfactory outcome.

    • I agree with GL being in a tough position.
      Despite that, apparently he took off for Beijing without informing VM.
      IMHO, the moment GL set first foot in the Saab building for this reconstruction, VM and he should have sat down and said to each other: ok, we may have not entirely the same interests (VM has SWAN and GL has the creditors), but Saab is the common interest. They should work together to save Saab and both have their own interests served.

      • You see, there we go again. How do you know that this didn’t happen? As I’ve said before in a previous post, it is quite possible that VM’s interests and those of the brand (and the creditors and the jobs) may diverge in various respects. To carry out his role properly GL must explore options other than those specifically approved by VM, which may be in the interests of the creditors. He has no other choice.

        • Alienating VM and pissing off the Chinese government by going to Geely instead of the officially appointed Chinese parties Youngman and Pang-Da isn’t exactly the way to solve the issues. Except of course if you just want to get rid of Saab, selling it for a pittance or letting bankruptcy take its course.

    • We don’t know what has been going on. And I haven’t been among those that have been very vocal about the rumours regarding what happened during GL’s travels back and forth etc. But if there is anything in those rumours (such as those around the Geely, or what happened at the second trip) it can’t be explained by that it is his duty to try everything alone, on his own; this isn’t a bankruptcy, and not a bankruptcy trustee; it’s a reconstruction in cooperation with the Saab companies (for those that don’t remember there is three of them).

      Thus, and again we don’t know, and perhaps we will never know, and it is at the moment not the most important issue, IMO, thus, it isn’t odd at all that people find the alleged actions very surprising. So the question is how much information was shared between the administrator and the representatives for the companies about their whereabouts etc.

    • I also agree that GL is in a tough position. But he’s also getting paid handsomely for his work. I’m confident that he was aware of the risks (high pressure, scrutiny from the press and keyboard warriors like us) and that he wouldn’t have accepted the position if there weren’t some serious upside in terms of $$$ and/or political points.

      One somewhat-unrelated point: I think it’s very important for everybody (whether you’re for or against GL or VM or whomever) that we have absolutely no way of knowing what GL’s motives and ultimate goal are. He’s not an automotive executive or engineer. He’s not an investor. He has no connection with Saab (that I know of). That may make him “objective”, but it also makes any interpretation of his true intentions pure speculation.

      Some have pointed out that he is a court-appointed administrator so he has to do what’s in the best long-term interest of the company, it’s suppliers and stakeholders. “Best long-term interests” as defined by who? Measured by what standard? His boss is the SweGov and politicians are not known for laying out clear and specific goals. In fact, they do just the opposite — they use vague cliches to give themselves as much room to wiggle out of trouble when things go sideways. It is this completely subjective nature of his role (and the lack of transparency in his actions) that make me very sceptical of his motives.

      When it comes to politicians, bureaucrats and their appointees, I tend to assume “guilty until proven innocent”. I’m no conspiracy theorist, I just set a very high threshold for trust when it comes to people like GL.

      • I think that, under the Swedish law, the boss of the administrator is not the Swedish government. As far as I understand it as a non-lawyer, he answers only to the court that appointed him. Which is not to say that the political powers-that-be cannot exert any influence in a roundabout, unofficial and unpublicized way. There is always a measure of political interest in situations like this one. And Sweden is a pretty politicized society where you just don’t become a person of some stature and influence in business without at least some political backing.


  6. there is something wrong with the order of reply-that much is certain!! it never goes where you think it will, (a metaphor for Saab?)

        • :). Indeed, how cool is it that at.least someone is FOR Saab in this mess? And what could pro-Saab mean but that one looks out for and tries to determine what would be good for Saab? We are stakeholders too.

    • Did you expect a SAAB-related site to not be pro-SAAB? Most of us are watching this closely because although we’re not shareholders or employers whether SAAB lives or dies affects owners of SAAB vehicles – particularly for parts and service.

      I do wish the site owners were a bit more objective in reporting the current situation (if only to avoid criticism such as you posted), but getting some info, however biased or overly optimistic it may be, is better than no information at all.

  7. I think this is yet again a question of wait and see.
    I am not convinced that GL is a Bad Guy, just like I am not convinced that VM is a Bad Guy.
    One thing I am pretty sure of is that there a no Good Guys in this.
    They are all Gray Hats

    One thing that still makes me wonder what the H*ll happened is that incident with Geely.
    In light of most of the info presented from most sources there was NO reason to expect anything positive coming out of trying anything with Geely.
    Hawtai was kicked out of the deal because of the application by Youngman, ther can be only one applicant at NDRC etc..
    I am not trying to place the blame at anyone, including GL but it seemed so badly thought out and panicky..

    But as I said above, it seems that more and more stakeholders are waking up and reacting to the situation.
    Which is a good sign, me thinx

    • Hawitai quit because after they visit SAAB factory, they feel the situation of SAAB more terrible than they imagine or than VM told to them.

      then Hawtai want more time to review their investment plan, VM has not time to wait, so VM terminate the agreement with Hawtai.

      These things spent a total of 10 days, most media report this as A farce.

      • I think maybe what you write isn’t the only reason for Hawtai’s not becoming Saab’s partner. I believe that Hawtai quit before they got kicked out by NDRC due to the slight problem of Hawtai padding up their production figures and sales results and lying about them to the press and the shareholders. I guess they just didn’t have the financial clout and industrial savvy to be a succesful partner. Another example of a Chinese company wanting to get everything for -nearly- nothing, perhaps? Not that Youngman proved themselves to be better in that respect so far.

        There must be some partner for Saab out there that can be trusted….


    • Khrisdk: on the issue of the stake holders I agree 900%. It’s not exactly what one would have expected a few months ago maybe, but if they wake up, it could be very good indeed for the outcome.

      • Maybe the suppliers could get together and raise the funds to buy -a part of- Swan/Saab share capital so that that money could be used to revive Saab and so guarantee them an ongoing flow of material and component supplies? Some of these suppliers are serious multi-billion-dollar globally active enterprises.


        • Are you are really advocating that the beleaguered suppliers pump more money into a company that already owes them vast sums of cash? I would say that this far from an Opel/Magna situation.

        • These are times when any business enterprise has to consider the continuity of their order inflow. It may not be such a bad investment fot them. If Saab can be turned around, they keep a customer that may even grow and will share in future profits. Allright, I’ll give you it may be an innovative idea but deals like that have happened before.


          • OK I agree it is an innovative idea but it is not going to happen especially with VM in charge – I can’t see the suppliers trusting him and it would be too much of a risk.

            Even if all the debt was converted to equity Saab would still have no money to operate.

            In summary, I think we are back where we started which is Saab needing a very rich partner who is capable of pumping in vast sums of money and opening up new markets….

          • Money can be raised if debts are largely reduced, I’m pretty sure a laded partner would come up if Saab is less burdened by debts. And, actually, the suppliers have already expressed their confidence in VM in public more than once. At the time of he Frankfurt auto show and more than once after that.

            I’ll just wait for the phone call from CLEPA 😉 .


          • In a situation like this most creditors would have little to gain by publicly voicing concerns about VM however I would speculate wildly and say that a good proportion would rather make a deal with the devil than go into business with him. Also I should point out that not all suppliers are being represented by CLEPA – just look at those who have already started court proceedings or have registered with the Kronofogden.

          • I actually think that a lot of suppliers would like to make a deal with the devil.
            They do that on a daily basis with much larger and powerfull Demons than VM

            You are right that not all suppliers are represented by CLEPA, But MY speculations tells me that most suppliers are playing both scenarios and safeguarding themselves.
            In case of their own investment they would be very close to decisions

            But for now it is only an idea floating around in here. Though I think it’s a good one 😉

        • Or it could be done by converting debt to equity, like CJ suggested a few days ago. That certainly isn’t an unusual way of dealing with debts.


    • Thinking the other way round the incident with Geely could have been the attempt to alienate P/Y who were very close to finish the deal with Saab right in time. Mr. GL troubled this situation. And Mr. Anders Borg didn´t want to be involved with his name, so he sent his deputy to the meeting with Geely. The rest is known.

  8. From what I have read, I believe the problem is that GL overstepped his role as administrator of the reorganization of Saab by actually attempting to negotiate or ‘engineer’ a completely NEW ‘deal’ (with Geely). His purpose, as I understand it anyway, is to verify that current parties involved (and agreements made) are proceeding as agreed and as presented to the court, and in the respect to ensure a high likelihood of success in terms of the reorganization and both short and long-term future of Saab . Going to China to meet with Pang Da and Youngman representatives to ascertain the reason for partial payment of the bridge-loan is one thing. Going to China, with “inside knowledge” of Saab’s financial status, assets, etc., and passing that information to a third party (Geely) in an attempt to undermine the current ‘deal’ is something entirely different. He has no authority to negotiate deals as if he is doing so on behalf of Saab. Quite the contrary, he may have caused irreparable harm to the negotiations between PD/Yng and Saab.

    • Barry

      I honestly don’t believe that is a true -what I think is more likely is that Lofalk was just doing his duty by meeting an interested party. If the deal had gone through it would have hurt someone financially, that person then decided to brief a number of press to derail it and make Lofalk look bad.

      As far as I can see Lofalk would have absolutely nothing to gain (and a lot to lose) by acting in an improper way. This is a high profile case and he knows his actions will be looked at in detail.

      • Lofalk was just doing his duty by meeting an interested party.

        It was a bit more than that. The interested party ended up in Sweden with a check of 50 million euro, if my memory serves me correctly.
        The big question is: How did GL think he could sell 100% of Saab -to Geely- on the spot and past everybody without approvals from NDRC, EIB, SWAN shareholders, GM or NDO?

        Two alternatives springs to mind; a) he was unaware of the complex process, b) he was told it could be done.
        Why else arrange a meeting in Stockholm between AB, Geely and Pang Da behind the backs of the Saab/SWAN management?

      • VM has stated that ‘others’ had different agendas. He also stated that SAAB would appeal to the Court to have Lofalk removed as Administrator of the reorganisation. Yes, it is a “high profile case” and his actions WILL be looked at in detail. But again, I believe this man set into motion a series of events that were detrimental to the process(es) at hand. But ANA, thank you. I hope that you are correct and I am wrong.

  9. If the rumors of Youngman’s behavior are true, then what is there to salvage of this agreement? I for one would not want a stakeholder in a joint venture like Youngman after this behavior. I am sure that VM and Pang Da would feel the same.

  10. Folks, is anybody of you sufficiently fluid in Swedish law and legal practice? I am not.

    If there is someone, pls step foward and explain the situation to the SU audience.

    As I understand it, we just don’t know exactly what the role of the administrator is. What is his responsibility? In whose interest does he have to act? The debitors? Saab, the company? Saab’s owners? The Swedish state? The employees (ok, legally, they are also debitos, but preferred ones)? What is he allowed to legally do? BarryMemphis mentioned that arranging new deals might be beyond his competence. Are you sure?

    Would he be required to tell the company what he does to find out wether the operation can be continued, or wether the should go into bancruptcy?

    All this, I do not know. Thus, I do not participate in speculations.

    • I’m not an expertin Swedish bankrupcy practice, but if he has suggested that youngman/pangda should take over the governments collataral for the EIB loan:
      A: the initiative to do so must have come from the government, As a rconstructor Lofalk can not make these suggestions just by assumption.
      B: Saab must be set in bankrupcy. Otherwise the government will not be owner of the Saab collateral and can not sell the assets.

  11. Yet another remark: some commentors discuss on the amount of money for the administration. As I work in a large legal firm, I like to note that “Lofalk” will certainly not mean HIM, but his firm, which might well comprise dozens of people (including a number of lawyers) working on this administration case. I think that should bring the amount into some perspective.

    • Well, up to a point. 11 miljoen SEK (appr. 1.2 M euro) up front whatever the outcome and 5 M SEK extra if Saab doesn’t go bust? For 3 months of work as a max? These are pretty bizzarre amounts even for top law firms as far as I’m concerned, even more so if invoiced to a company in such dire financial straits.


  12. You got me Robin, at first I thought there was violence involved…”Foul play”, usually involves some kind of violence. Whatever they’re doing…not good.

  13. So… my conspiratorial notions appear to be true. 🙁
    Too many mad men with too much power and money to use for bad purposes.

    Anyone heard of the police cars built in Trollhättan lately? Or just rumors again?
    The Swedish police will cry loudly when they get their VW-cars instead of the 9-5s – that´s for sure!

    On the other hand, the laughters among the criminals may be louder 😉

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