It’s Always Darkest Before the Dawn

Just when we thought the situation couldn’t get any more complicated, one of Saab’s greatest allies who enabled the sale to Spyker in the first place was arrested and charged with siphoning assets. While he’s of course innocent until proven guilty, his bank will now be liquidated and it’s safe to say his life as a high flying financier is about to change dramatically. The timing, to put it mildly, couldn’t be worse.

So how does this affect the sale of Saab? Fortunately, Latvia’s Financial Services Authority FCMC isn’t going to pursue the money loaned from Antonov to Victor Muller’s company Tenaci over a year ago.  In an email to TT reported by, they wrote that it’s not part of their mission to recover funds in a case like this. Whether that means Tenaci is now free of debt to Antonov is dubious, merely that Antonov if found guilty would be on the hook for the money that is missing.

Amazingly, most of the parties don’t seem to be deterred by the news, aside from making sure that the sale isn’t encumbered by any legal challenges by the developing Latvian situation. We’ve heard that even GM isn’t terribly concerned about it, much more about conditions necessary for a transfer of ownership (and who they’re willing to allow to own it). Though negotiations continue in all directions, there are signs coming to us that progress is being made on multiple fronts. All parties understand the urgency given that salaries are past due, and they’re simultaneously trying to protect their own bottom lines while preserving the deal. It’s as if they’re juggling while walking a tight rope. The news that the FCMC isn’t pursuing Tenaci’s debt should help ease at least one possible path to Saab’s rescue, which at this point appears to be the path of least resistance. Whether or not all sides choose that path is anyone’s guess though (edit: sources in the know say the structure of a deal that GM will approve is near).

Much has been made of Pang Da’s statement that they couldn’t meet the salary deadline per the NDRC’s instructions. Many have also speculated on the conditions for the NDRC’s approval of the deal as if it’s diametrically opposed to GM’s. I’d advise you not to overanalyze or fall in any of those traps. It comes down to simple economics for all parties, and GM and the NDRC through Shanghai (state) owned SAIC are tied fairly tightly together, however indirectly they communicate. At the same time, Youngman and Pang Da through Saab’s technology have a long term potential to build and sell Chinese made cars that anyone could recognize. There are ways that have been communicated to us for all parties to come out with their interests protected, and for the NDRC to ensure that their strategic plan for Chinese industrial growth stays on track. There’s no point in trying to figure out what those conditions are, it’s simply worth noting that discussions aren’t as black and white as some press outlets suggest.

Also, you’ll remember Antonov still owns half of CPP (the other half being co-owned by Brendan O’Toole) and they most recently acquired the Bowler brand. Also, they produce the bodies for the new Spyker Ailerons and even limited edition Aston Martins, among other exotics. Whether or not Antonov wishes to remain the owner of this is now in question, and we’ve heard rumblings that he may want to unload it. Hopefully there won’t be any disruption on that end either.


On a side note, I haven’t posted much lately because the constant speculation in the media and grasping for straws has been pretty exhausting. You can cut the tension in SU’s comments with a knife, and the anxiety level that’s been exhibited by some readers here seems to be contagious. I’m hoping we can all keep calm, and trust that those negotiating for Saab’s survival understand that given the time, shareholder, and negotiating constraints, there are very few paths left to take. I’m confident from what I’ve heard that they all know this, and that means that finally there should be some progress on reaching an acceptable deal.

Guessing at outcomes, speculating blindly, or just venting anger or frustration isn’t going to solve anything. Comments at this point do little but stir the pot, and I’d ask everyone to think twice before posting their opinion. I considered closing comments for this article, but I have faith that we can all stay constructive with our tone. The purpose of us reporting about the negotiation is only to keep everyone in the loop, not to debate the finer points of a deal that isn’t even public. If you haven’t familiarized yourself with the website policy, follow Tim’s advice and look it over. It’ll take less than a minute of your time to read.


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Thanks Jeff, good post.

Henric Tungström

I like what I read, thx Jeff


As what the other people have made as an reaction: I also would write that this is great and i like it too!
Jeff, thank you for what you have wrote in this topic!

(Sorry for my bad English, but i’m trying my best.)


Good post, Jeff, thank you!

Troels, Denmark

Thank you for a good, sober and very needed post, Jeff!
We keep our fingers and toes crossed… ! 😉

Jonas Axelsson

Indeed, a nice post. One question however and I am sorry but it is my nature to ask questions. Though Latvias’ FCMC indicates they do not intend to engage in recovery from VM’s company, that still leaves Lithuania. I know nothing of the Russian, or former associate states of course, but here even though an agency decides not to pursue an action there is still a large question that lingers. He may not be found guilty in criminal court however here in the US there is still the chance of a Civil Action. Now the bad news about civil actions… Read more »

Member this review of the 9-4X makes me sad 🙁 Come on and start making cars again SAAB.

Just wondering, if SAAB goes bust 🙁 plz god dont let it happend!! what will your next car be?


Brands that were always close to my heart are:

Land Rover

If I had to buy a new (or pre-owned) vehicle that is *not* a Saab, it’d be an Audi A4 Quattro, Mazdaspeed 6 (or Mazdaspeed 3), the new Mazda CX-5 (or pre-owned CX-9). I’d never be able to afford the new LR Evoque, but it’s a good daydream vehicle 🙂


As a used car buyer I am concerned with the cost and difficulty of maintenance. Have you seen what it takes to replace an Audi timing belt? Check it out:

Audi Timing Belt Replacement

Yikes! I’ll be sticking with used Saabs even if the worst happens…


Mazda 3 or 6. Sorry, are you serious? As far as ‘the drivers car’ you can get imo. The ergonomics and seats have always been terrible, no performance but quite reliable I guess.


A well-written article by someone who has more insight into this matter than almost anyone else at this. I still have faith in Saab, although it’s beginning to wane a bit.


This post was just what SU needed. Bring it all back to more of a defined centerline. And sprinkled with a light dusting of news to keep us pacified. Let’s make this happen! Good luck to all involved!


I don’t think it makes a big difference to SAAB. If the loan was obtained legally, then it is a liability. If the sale proceeds, most of the $$ will be repaid by SWAN. The only thing it does do is close of Antonov as a source for any additional funds, which he probably was not able to provide anyway.


“[T]here are signs coming to us that progress is being made on multiple fronts.” Jeff, this takes a lot of trust to believe this. If there are signs coming to you, well good. But to anyone who is objectively looking at this from a distance, there are no such signs at all. At least when VM was buying Saab, most of us could see hints that the deal was going through. CJ was here telling us the deal was going through and giving us “signs.” I haven’t seen any real signs of a new deal going through since PangDa put… Read more »


Here is the contrast program: Volvo just announced to increase its planned staff by roughly 10’000 employees till 2020. Most of the increase is planned in China, where Volvo will open up a first factory in 2013. Another is in planning, but needs authorities approval still. Volvo plans to double car sales within the same time frame, from roughly 430k this year to 800k+. Volvo does not see any sales slowdown up to now, and has full order books till spring 2012, according to its CEO. Why am I writing that? Because Volvo and Saab exhibit similarities. Both had big… Read more »


Off topic but still …
The most interesting part is the part that GM hasn’t rejected anything.
It looks like all media coverage we’re trying to catch up with is a bunch of outdated news and misinterpretations.

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