All of us who are watching the fate of Saab have been given only few news of what is going on since Saab declared bankrupcy. Somehow this silence is annoying, but on the other hand one might think that this is a sign that a lot of things are going on behind the scenes. But as we learned from various statements not even those who are concerned and threatened directly by the bankrupcy, like employees/unions and suppliers get the information they are looking for. Like them, I am not too happy about that to say the least. Not that I’d vote to make the whole process public but there are some who deserve to get information.
Today ttela published an interview with Fredrik Sidahl, CEO of FKG and Lars Holmqvist, CEO of CLEPA. They go pretty hard on the recievers for various reasons. Again, one is the lack of information, along with the question why the recievers didn’t follow Youngman’s invitation to China. The most likely answer may be that the recievers are still too busy examining Saab’s assets to get an overview and to estimate the company’s value. This took a long time for as I understand it they are just about to talk to the interested parties. True, this is the biggest bankrupcy in Sweden for a long time but if you face such a task you’d have to get there with appropriate manpower. Obviously this was not the case from the beginning as a third reciever was appointed just a few days ago.
This is not to say that the recievers are doing a bad work in general. It is a good thing if they do things step by step but still they have to keep the timeline in mind. Every day makes it more expensive to restart Saab and every day more employees find a new job and are in that case lost for Saab. So it is important to find someone who is familiar with Saab’s case. Youngman would be one who surely knows the details, but according to their own statement Brightwell have also been monitoring Saab for half a year. This might make them another candidate. I have no idea how much info Mahindra has gotten by now. At first sight they might be the best option but it may take too much time to get a deal done. But still, you never know…
I’d tend to believ that each of those three possible suitors would be wise to keep production in Sweden. If they spend lots of money on a heritaged brand it does not make sense to move production and spoil the image. Of course Youngman for example could start production in China for the local and some asian markets but even Mercedes imports everything above a base E-Class into China because it would be considered not worthy enough if not too cheap.
But still, even if we see a relatively quick sale of Saab we have to face the reality that it won’t restart by just pressing a button. This will take time for various reasons. You have to re-employ people, get the line ready, re-engage the supply chain and dealer network to name just a few. A huge task that could easily take a year. Still, this is not the big problem if a suitor brings on enough money. And honestly, I’d prefer a later, well organized restart to a hectic action that brings us back to where we are now within a few months.
The other stumbling block still is GM. In order to have models to build anybody would have to get licensing. I personally could imagine this may work with an old model like the current 9-3 but I have some doubts that GM would ever give licenses for the 9-5 ot 9-4x, given how they acted in the past months. The right buyer with deep pockets could even overcome those problems and put all efforts in future models. As much as I’d like to get a 9-4x personally, a real, complete restart could have many benefits, too. And if you wanted to do this, the moment is now. Sure it would cost a lot of money but those who want to take over Saab now must look at the long term chances. If you transform Saabs heritage into modern cars you will surely sell enough to make profit. In a world of boring cars there is definetely a space for Saab.
There is still alot of hope for Saab and I honestly have no favourite suitor among the three that were mentioned up to now – until we know better, I think we all should be open to all options. Never ever give up. Saab may be different when all this is over but after all, this does not have to be a bad thing.