Teknikens Världs interview with Victor

Sometimes you are in the right place at the right moment. And this has been the case for Erik Gustaffsson, a reporter from Teknikens Värld.

He was at the Heathrow Airport in London where he met Victor Muller. This is the short interview.

Exclusive interview: Muller does not believe in the Chinese

Victor Muller doubts that GM will ever accept a Chinese Saab business. According to him, Youngman, Pang Da and Guy Lofalk sabotaged the whole business when they went from the original plan. It says Muller in an exclusive interview with the Teknikens Värld.

On the way home from Britain hits Teknikens Värld Erik Gustafsson, an unusually outspoken Victor Muller. The gate at Heathrow Airport, the plane to Stockholm, he says frank about Saab’s situation.

– This is how it goes when you put his partner in the back, says Muller continues:

– The deal was long time and the arrangement with a Chinese shareholding of 54 per cent was approved. Then began administrator Guy Lofalk run government affairs, to persuade the Chinese to a 100-percent ownership stake and GM slammed on the brakes.

Late yesterday evening, Swedish time, had GM in Detroit, a further meeting on Saab’s future, but Victor Muller strongly doubt one acceptance.

– I understand GM fully, it is clear that they do not want to jeopardize its market in China. But right now I understand the other side is not why the Chinese continue to pump money into the company. As the situation is, it just means to put money into a black hole, without getting anything back. The relationship with GM is so damaged that they (Youngman and Pang Da) can not even go back to the original plan.

While he acknowledges that the situation is tough, he means that there is a solution. He can not tell you how it looks, but he promises to fight till the end.

– If I doze off Saab would disappear in an instant.

I’ve used tha same title as Teknikens Värld, as this is the way to go in Sweden when you quote an article in full.

79 thoughts on “Teknikens Världs interview with Victor”

  1. Victor talks a lot of sense….hopefully he has the alternative deal arranged as we’re led to believe….should we expect to hear more tonight on TV, or will this take further weeks/months?

  2. He always blames someone else. He seems to forget that all bets were off once it went into reconstruction.

    What is the point in having a business partner who is broke, in a cash-flow negative business?

    That scenario doesn’t work.

    • Guy Lofalk made it all impossible, and then you’re very busy judging VM….

      As always… but really, does it help Saab? Or you are just relieved to have bashed VM yet another day?

      • No – just frustrated. But here’s my observation.

        VM has always been more accessable (or more loose lipped, depending on your point of view) than some of the other players in this saga. Especially lately, when things have got more desperate, then there has definately been an element of ‘not my fault, its someone else’ in his communications

        for example;

        “I told them 100% wouldn’t work with GM ” After he himself announces the great deal to save Saab
        “its not my responsibility to pay the salaries…. ”
        and now : “Guy Lofalk sabotaged it…”

        He can say whatever he likes, and he may be 100 percent correct, but Guy Lofalk did not run Saab out of cash.

        Until we can look back on this, with a historical perspective, none of us will know all sides to the story. (I’m not sure we are getting all the sides.)

        • After he himself announces the great deal to save Saab
          He was forced to. You and I know it equally that it was GL’s agenda of going 100% Chinese.
          So blaming Victor for the announcement is really like blaming the herald here.

          and he may be 100 percent correct, but Guy Lofalk did not run Saab out of cash.
          Yea right. But the fact of GL actively jeopardizing an crashing an agreed deal is really nothing to do with any previous events, eg VM running the factory out of money (which was predicted by many of analysts anyway, that it would be a living on the edge).

          Can you show a man on earth who was eventually not running saab out of money, BTW?

        • Saab ran Saab out of cash.
          That includes a lot of other people than VM
          As owner he gets the responsibility, but has has only been CEO for a short while.

      • Actually, it’s been a clusterf*** all around, with blood on everyone’s hands. VM, for premature press releases proclaiming “the deal” so many times that it’s impossible to believe him, Lofalk for queering the deals that have been in negotiations since spring, GM, because beancounters still run the company independent of marketing and customer relations (and adding the fact that GM’s idea of customer service is to piss off customers at every opportunity) leading to poor fit and finish decisions (and anemic power levels for pretty much everything in GM’s lineup except the Y-body), the Chinese for buying into Lofalk’s B.S., getting greedy and gunning for 100% ownership when GM already made it clear that option was off the table, the Swedish government for not taking steps to support SAAB from the beginning, the EIB for not keeping committments to SAAB, SAAB themselves for not advertising the cars like hell and not bringing Hirsch, BSR, or another tuner in-house to make a car that really does compete with SAAB’s purported competition, and for maintaining the inflated MSRPs.

        If SAAB is saved it will be a miracle.

  3. Unbelievable. If the Chinese should be in fact out, and another solution is to be found by VM, then good night. Without the prospect of Chinese market access, there is no solution, as Europe and the US will be dull markets for the next ten years.

    • I believe what he’s referring to is 100% ownership. He’s clearly trying to leverage the Chinese to accept the best deal that GM will accept by going public. If I were Rachel Pang or her father, I’d heed his words. This isn’t a mystery, and Guy Lofalk’s meeting in DC with GM’s PR guy is clearly not going to open up any doors. Its simultaneously frustrating and confusing that it’s taken them this long to figure out that GM was transparent in their concerns. But I guess that’s to be expected for parties who have mired themselves in secrecy to expect others to operate the same way. Time to smell the coffee in the boardroom and finish the deal folks.

  4. Well, that’s pretty much the story I’m telling around here for few weeks.
    I’m glad Victor released this publicly, this also means things should clear up shortly.

    • The 54% Chinese ownership was not discarded by Lofalk, but for the Chineses that didn’t want VM running Saab with their money without a say on it.

      Then VM secured the 100% Chinese ownership with the promise that he would stay as Ceo. And it was that plan that GM discarded.

      It is him to blame by having the company stopped for almost a year, sinking it even more in a financial maelstrom.
      He decided to wait several months until he filed reconstruction. Why? Because nobody would invest in a company under reconstruction if they’re not planning to have 100% share on it.
      He tried to get money while the company standed still but out of reconstruction, perfect solution for him since it meant a new chance to get things running and preventing share price to plummet.

      You should use your own judgement a little bit more. Just a piece of advice.

      • Well thank you for your advice , I will certainly remember it 🙂
        What strikes me then it’s how come the Chinese realized that they let VM running the company on their own money 3 months after they signed the MOU and two months after they signed a binding agreement for that deal.

        If you think that GL didn’t blow everything up with his trip to China and his maneovres with Geely to take 100% ownership of SAAB , then it’s your opinion and I resect it, but you can’t pretend it’s based on logic , can you?

        • Things are probably more complicated. The other agenda, and certainly part of the deal, was really to get VA in as a shareholder, and also as an additional financier. When it became clear, that EIB would never accept it, and Antonov ran into difficulties to get the cash in, then the Chinese became worried. It certainly was not just GL turning things around.

          • I doubt that at that point VA was still a valid option.
            That would make VM look like GL, and I think they are completely oposite types.

          • ” Antonov ran into difficulties to get the cash in, then the Chinese became worried

            This really sounds just a(nother) weird speculation to me… Too imponderable to defend GL’s inexplicable actions and the strategic failure caused.

      • Hmm.. that sort of advice is always welcome.
        I will apply that on a couple of comments in here

        I do not agree with you evaluation, but that can hardly come as a surprise.
        You’re correct that the 100% idea was chinese.
        The Geely thing was a sidetrack of unknown origin, but at least fired up on chinese ideas.

        The damage control was letting a 100% deal be signed as MoU.
        And GM discarded that, as expected and noted on the first attempt

        The rest is an assumption

        Thanks for your advice

      • “Then VM secured the 100% Chinese ownership with the promise that he would stay as Ceo.”


        Where did you get that little tidbit from? VM stay on as a CEO?

        No, what has actually been said is that he _might_ stay on in an _advisory_ role _if_ they want him to.

        “The 54% Chinese ownership was not discarded by Lofalk, but for the Chineses that didn’t want VM running Saab with their money without a say on it”

        That still leaves open the question who got the Chinese onto that track. VM points his finger at Lofalk who seems to have had a few unannounced meetings that quite frankly looks a bit odd. (like turning up with the head of Geely at the minister of Finance’s office)

        Feel free to judge all you want, but try to get at least some of your facts straight first.

  5. What is apparent is that time is now really running out. As we know, Saab GB is in Administration. Without a government wage guarantee, the UK Administrators will not wait to prune costs. Since the shares of Saab GB are pledged as collateral to Pangda, of course, it is within Pangda’s grasp to prevent the destruction of one of Saab’s ‘jewels’, the UK sales operation.

    According to things I’m hearing, the Adminsitrators are not waiting. Apparently Saab Fulham (wholly-owned by Saab GB) closes today, and there have already been approximately 10 workers laid-off at Saab City (also wholly-owned by Saab GB).

    VM & Co need to act as fast as they possibly can to save this one; I wish them god speed.

  6. When VM started his negotiations with Chinese enterprises he should have known that GM never will accept such a deal.
    But nevertheless he continued these discussions and to everyone who was interested he declared the money would come from China. Now he doesn`t believe in his former friends. He better hadn`t believe in his own eccentric dreams and thoughts. and we too.

    • As I remember VM declared early that GM wouldn´t accept 100% chinese ownership. Remember that the first bid from YM and PD was clearly rejected by WM as unacceptable , and explained with the situation we see right now.

    • What makes you so certain that GM wouldn’t agree to the first three party deal? It is the 100% Chinese ownership they are afraid of, and that deal wasn’t on the map until last month.

  7. Sorry I am at a loss now. So if VM does not think the Chinese will buy Saab then who will? And if that is the case why are people running up expenses travelling across America etc…. This is just farcical now.

  8. It seems that there is a power struggle behind the scenes right now. In addition to all the troubles the company has. Which makes me sad. And worried. I kind of agree to what ANA said about the interview. If I am correct about the Swedish law, it is Mr. Lofalk that is responsible for SAAB now. VM is sidelined, which probably hurts VM much but is legal, and probably correct, after knowing in which situation SAAB was under his leadership.

    • VM is definitely not sidelined. For anyone to suggest that now shows how little they actually know of what’s going on behind the scenes. It’s not as black and white as everyone here makes it out.

      Calm down people. Just calm down.

      • @Jeff: We are calm down, but the articles like this and the previous one make us rise again with our speculations and theories. You must understand us. And a bit of critic for the SU team: I don’t think that our speculations and theories can hurt the negotiations process as much as the previous article and this interview. You from SU team and VM are insiders, we are just spectators.
        About the VM sidelined or not, I want just to ask someone who is knowledgeable here: Who is in charge of SAAB right now , VM or GL? If, for example VM comes up with a plan to join Pang Da and North Street finance company, and GL decides that the plan is crap, who wins then?

        • The pressure doesn’t help. These people have huge egos. The press takes note of what is said here, especially in comments. I’d rather both of these articles hadn’t been posted today, or that comments had been turned off. Instead I have to play comments police while I’m at work. Fun times.

          To answer your question, if all the parties are in agreement with a viable plan, Guy Lofalk has the fiduciary responsibility to accept it. It’s dramatic, but not that dramatic.

              • If you’re concerned about SU’s credibility, I’d be more pissed about the headline about SU France (with an exclamation point), and the pointless story about the Volt.

                Today’s stories… are out there. While they may have dampened Saab spirits, they do seem to help Saab fans better understand where Saab’s real problems are (ie – not in Detroit).

                • Don’t even get me started about those 🙂 Let’s just all take a break from SU until either a press release goes out or I come back with some news, k?

    • VM is sidelined, which probably hurts VM much but is legal, and probably correct

      I wouldn’t be that sure that it is a conduct by the book and is therefore fully legal or not. According to the best of my knowledge, the owners rights to their property do stay, but becomes formal which means owners are to consult administrator and have his consent.

  9. Hmmm, can you explain why then GL needed the help of Swedish Ambasador to introduce him to GM ? He was supposedly restlestly negotiated with GM for the last month. Doesn’t it look for you like his last desperate attempt to have GM even talk to him ?

  10. Jeff has asked us not to intervene, and not to blame anyone. Fine, give them time to finalize their deal. But what we may communicate them, is requirements.
    – Time is running out fastly. Thus, a solution has to come asap, this week early next week at the latest..
    – Obviously, agreement in advance from all relevant stakeholders is needed
    – This is about money. Small solutions providing liquidity for a few more months are not sufficient, there needs to be an ownership structure, that gives back confidence into the battered brand. Thus, 1bn + is needed quite soon, all outstanding bills and loans paid upfront and not after negotiations.
    – There has to be a credible business plan, that gives dealers, loyalists and potential customers the full conviction, that the brand has a long-term future.
    – The production should be resumed asap, and a new CEO with credibility in the car business appointed, as well as a board of directors with credentials.
    – China as a market must be part of the deal, as this is the biggest and fastest growing market, which is not yet fully distributed, but open to newcomers.
    – For Europe, Diesel engines are key, without them, forget about a future here
    – Investments into developments of existing models (9-5. 9-4x) as well as full development of the 9-3 must be assured.
    – Investments into marketing and distribution must be part of the business plan.

    • I’ll agree with you on some of those points being urgent but not all. I don’t doubt that China will be an important market in the future, and that Saab will eventually need access to it. But the time and resources needed to build up the image of Saab there and get the groundwork built up to succeed there will take longer than anyone has suggested. My own set of requirements are simple, get the company back to a more stable footing, out of reconstruction and pay off creditors. At that point, focus on how to fulfill the rest of your list. Victor has always said you need to learn to walk before you can run, at this point I’d say they need to be able to crawl before they can even walk again.

      Before you come after me for saying that anything less than a grand plan will be acceptable again, take a step back and really think to yourself if it’s necessary to have one right now. As long as Saab can pay its debts and get back to building cars, they will at least have the time and space to agree to the grand plan that even I agree is necessary. I’m sure it’s not lost on you that bankruptcy is imminent if the deal isn’t agreed on– fortunately this time the deal is structured to satisfy the relevant parties. Thanks for the comment and for the patience michael.

      • Just having some fun trying to read between your lines.
        So, no current Saabs with GM IP exported to China, nor current Saabs with GM IP being build in China. As soon as the Phoenix platform can be fully produced and freed of all GM IP it can also be build in China. Pang-Da and possibly Youngman will become minority partners with an option to be the producer/distributor of Phoenix platform cars in China in the near future.
        Since Pang-Da and possibly Youngman will not invest as much as expected that still leaves a financial gap to be filled by another mystery partner. I doubt that GM (although it seems to have quite deep pockets again) is interested to fund a foreign car maker. North Street Capital could be an possibility, although we don’t know how deep their pockets are. That Jeff seems to be the SU inside man points to a solution with a North American partner, maybe even one which is as close to New York as Greenwich?

  11. Let us hypothesize for a moment and Saab finds a happy owner to GM’s satisfaction and then they sell SAABs in China anyway. Then GM is whistling Dixie because even if a SAAB is GM parts-free then a SAAB sale is a GM loss.

    Where does SAAB find new investors? Just yesterday Israel invested in a joint partnership with the other key Chinese brand, Cherry. Who is left with money, especially with Europe in a real crisis over the Euro? To say this is very complicated is an understatement.

  12. Well, it will be difficult to undo all these crossed fingers, legs, …. And don´t drive your Saab with crossed eyes ! 😉 Still hoping for the best …

  13. I did wonder about the optimism of Tim and Jeff`s remarks in view of SAAB GB going into administration – after all, why would they apply for that if a deal was so close? VM`s comments seem to suggest surrender, especially when he is scheduled to appear Friday night in a TV talk show described as having “a nice and amusing tone”. At first I thought he was appearing in what seems to be a relaxed and friendly show because by then the Deal would be done, but I think my sums were wrong – 2+2=4, I got 5!

  14. Sorry VM – you should appear on “Jackanory” on bbc tv. From one stance to the other – surley you saw the 100% chinese bid for what it is …totally futile and unacceptable to GM – so why follow that plan for weeks?/ .. or just another deliberate time-buy as you try yet another Plan ….. I for one have no patience left for “off the cuff” business plans and after the fact commentary…keep showmanship for the TV

    • Turbine,
      this question has been addressed several times in comments higher on the page.
      In all honesty, do you believe he had other chance left ? (think of the timeframe when the 100% deal was stroke).
      As soon as GM reacted to the plan, he said – it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
      Did GL and YMPD understand it that way?
      I really don’t see the point in blaming him for the situation where GL & YMPD stucked into.

    • I’m not sure we should be so hard on VM. He really has tried and tried to get a solution to a financing problem that is extremely complex. After all, how many companies large enough to afford Saab are waiting to invest? I wouldn’t, even as a Saab owner and fan. To me it would be good money after bad. That VM has been able to drag Saab along this far is a miracle to me.
      And to cap it all, he’s watching his friend and one time partner VA going down the drain and fairly sure to end up in jail.

      True he is somewhat of a showman, but maybe this quality is what has carried us this far. Cut him slack, at least until we know what his final rabbit out the bag is.

  15. MY point of view is very simple ….. the first deal at 54% was negotiated and agreed upon!

    Then GL and SwedGov fucxed it up trying to get rid of VM and VA via the 100% agreement ….. stop!

    Who is to blame?

    • They were closing it waiting for NDRC, when the Chinese stance changed.
      At least GL reported that he was in a meeting at NDRC, shortly after the Geely visit in Sthml, where YMPD made the 100% bid.
      That’s as neutral as I can put it.

      • Yes, YMPD strangely got the idea of bidding for 100% of Saab after GL/Swe Govt had tried to hand the company over to Geely for 50 million euro…

  16. Nor do me.
    Franky, who believed in these 2 companies? Broken pormises, no cash.
    I started to search the used cars’ website for a Merc C or an Ovlov. At least, Ovlov is growing and I feel they are better in sales and products than ever.

  17. NEWS JUST IN…… iv’e bought it for £56.03 + vat. I will be running SAAB from my garden shed in the midlands. I shall use my conservatory as a showroom and the bathroom will be the parts dept. My 83 year old granny will be sales exec and mother will be finance director (good at that as she bought us all up on nought). The sales pitch is a bit of problem so will be using the local pub car park down the road in the short period. VM will be valeting but on a short week (4 hours) as will have to keep an eye on him.
    Sorry just bringing a little joy into our lives….noone is more dedicated to SAAB…..33 years and 22 SAAB’s later !!!

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