Victor on Brightwell’s chances

Victor entered the stage again as an advisor to Brightwell and he still likes SMS. In one he sent to the Swedish news agency TT he was pretty optimistic about Brightwell’s chances in the bidding process (from

“In my judgment, they have the best chance to restart the Saab as a whole,” he writes in a text message to TT.

He estimates that Brightwell is the candidate with the frontrunner to get the opportunity to build Saab’s current models, 9-3, 9-4 X and 9-5, where General Motors so far refused to relinquish the licenses to any buyer.

Of course, as he is in this he has to be optimistic. And this is just in line with what Brightwell has stated before. But regardless what you think about him I am pretty sure that he had not teamed up with the last in line. To Brightwell he completes the range of advisors they have with a little extra insight in the company. Not to forget that he is a lawyer specializing in large-scale M&A (Mergers & Acquisitions). This also includes turning around ailing companies so to a degree he is there in his original job.

I know there is a lot of scepticism towards Brightwell as there is not too much info available to the public. Not that I would want to call myself an expert when it comes to their abilities but definetely I’d not underestimate them. They have obviously contacted Saab already last fall which implies that they are prepared with a business plan and the apropriate funding.

The GM issue is indeed difficult but if you show up with the right package it may still work. I’ve been pretty strong on that issue stating that GM won’t license, but of course if an offer contains more shareholder value than not licensing things may change. Still, it is a ride on a razor’s edge to negotiate such things with GM.

A large part of the svd article deals with the fact that about 200 of the 3100 Saab employees that registered at the employment agency have already found a new job or at least are close to that. Of course this applies mostly to engineers. Though this may be a drain in knowledge this is still not fatal. As soon as a credible investor takes over Saab will be able to acquire the nessesary people. Fresh blood means fresh ideas.

Many will see an unique chance in joining Saab. For those who are there when things get back running there opens an opportunity to really create something, to have more influence on things than in most other places of the automotive industry. Saab has been a great place to work and it will become that again, I’m sure.

In addition to that, as the administrators stated in their press conference on the 31st of January that there are about 100 employees still on their payroll, who are crucial for a restart of Saab. A small base to build upon but at least a start.

Just a small note to the end – I just saw that news about a BAIC/Panasonic bid came up in comments. I would still not read too much in that. Yet BAIC only confirmed that they may be interested in certain parts like ePower. For now, I’d judge them as one of the many already trying to get their hand on parts if a complete sale should not happen.

48 thoughts on “Victor on Brightwell’s chances”

  1. If somehow they were able to purchase Saab with the licensing of the current platforms, this would be the best scenerio. It’s going to be an uphill climb for sure with GM. From a selfish point of view, I had hoped to purchase the newly redesigned
    9-5SC this year. Maybe there is hope after all! Keeping calm here in Delaware, USA.

  2. This could be better than what we had before because we will have a steady stream of cash coming in from The Middle East. Advertising, GM dealer distribution network and service coupled with the new Jason Castreota 9-3 would be a huge tipping point for Saab. Anyway you look at GM is a necessity not a want. We must have GM with us..

    My two cents worth

  3. As I can not afford a new Saab 9-5SC at the moment so I really was hoping some othere Saab fans would switch their let’s say 2005 9-5 SCs to a new one and I could buy a nice used one. Now I am still driving my 9k… current read of the odometer: 295.800 km… hope it our Severus lasts a little bit longer.
    Just saw an other Saab 9k for sale with ‘only‘ 570.000 km on the clock. Made me optmistic, but a new car would be a nice thing to have. too.

  4. Here we go.

    Seriously, I would think after all the shenanigans in 2011, any bid associated with VM is going to face a lot of scrutiny by the Swedish administrators.

    But who in the hell knows, maybe VM forged some good working relationships with GM over the past 2-years and he has an “in”. However, from the outside looking in – I would think its just the opposite.

    • Yup, the whole thing smacks to me of smoke and mirrors. And what will the suppliers make of it? My gut feeling is zero chance, but I hope it’s wrong.

    • As Victor Muller said in one of his press conferences: “The forces working against us are larger than life.” I’ve always taken the position of not pretending I can elevate myself to a level where I can criticize his abilities. Instead, I will say that he could have thrown-in the towel a long long time ago, but didn’t. So, the “smoke and mirrors” argument is patently false.

      With some of the obstacles cleared, following Saab’s bankruptcy, there will be a much better chance of success for a Brightwell deal to succeed than before. And, just because VM favors on the side of Brightwell doesn’t at all mean that Mahindra & Mahindra would be a *bad* choice, and I think he knows that.

      As far as I am concerned, we are talking about two big players with extensive resources at their disposal (in addition to some anonymous bidders which are likely even larger companies — which I think the anonymity would suggest). Come to think of it, An actual reboot of Saab doesn’t feel as far-fetched as it did in early January…

    • As I recall reading, the administrators/receivers have met VM. They got a very positive impression of him, admitting they had changed their views on him. Views that they earlier got from the anti-VM media coverage.

  5. As a loyal and enthusiastic SAAB owner (of over 20 years) who had never even heard of Victor Muller a couple years ago. As far as I’m concerned Victor Muller (and his associates) saved SAAB (part 1). If he is still involved in saving the SAAB brand (part 2), that is good enough for me, I will for one, show him some respect. As a Scot who knows nothing, was it not a Dutchman who built the WASA, one of the great wonders of the world in my book!

    • Yes, a Dutchman (Henrik Hybertsson) built the Wasa. The ship sank on it’s maiden voyage, but I would not put the blame on him for that. In those days the King had his will, and he wanted a boat that was too top heavy and no one had the authority to say “No”.
      Even so, the Dutchman died before the ship was ready so he had no input at that stage. And as shipbuilding was not the science it is today, noone reaally knew that the ship was unstable until it was finished. In the end, the King got the majestic ship he wanted, although a few hundred years too late for him. 🙂
      I have seen Wasa three times and it is an awesome ship. And a fantastic story.

      • There were more factors contributing to the sinking of the Wasa, as far as I know. The Wasa was quite top-heavy due to her fashionably high superstructure and known to be quite unstable due to changes in design demanded by the King. He insisted on a much longer hull but refused to allocate the funds required for a proper re-design and new timbers so that the ship was only lengthened by adding an extra hull section. This resulted in a draft and beam width totally insufficient for a ship of that length and height. The Swedish Navy knew about it. They actually conducted stability tests after the launching of the hull by having a crew run from one side of the ship to another and it heeled so strongly that it nearly sank then. But the King still refused to listen so the Wasa was finished as it was.

        Anyway, with all gunports open for ventilation, the ship was exiting Stockholm harbour under sail for its maiden voyage. When about to leave the inner harbour, a gust of wind made Wasa heel over. Water rushed in through the open lower gunports, quickly filled the ship and made her capsize and sink within minutes. All this happened so fast that some 50 sailors perished with the ship even though she was no more than a few dozen metres from the shore.


        • There was a great dramatization on swedish TV around christmas time.

          The sinking of Wasa, disaster as it was, har given us a great insight in the lives of people in th 1600’s.

    • Thanks Hans H and ivo 71! Agreed, it is a fantastic story. I maybe digress a little, but I very much hope to see SAAB, like the VASA, being resurrected from the “depths”, like a Pheonix if you will. If I must, I will, but I don’t want to be forced to drive an “I roll”! Best regards from a lover of all things Swedish!

  6. Is Victor Muller a paid consultant for Brightwell? Nothing wrong with it if he is—-but if so, I would hesitate to put 100% trust in his motives. If he’s on their payroll, he has an obligation to paint them in the best light. He might also have a job in waiting if they are the winning bidder. If he has no financial gain, now or later, and is just offering his unbiased opinion, then yes, I’d definitely feel a lot better about Brightwell. To this point, I feel strongly that Mahindra is in the best overall position to make Saab a strong company, offering a full product line that can be competitive around the world. Having experience manufacturing and selling vehicles is huge—-having experience aquiring financially troubled carmakers is also huge—-having vehicles already approved for various markets around the world—-including places where they aren’t even currently doing business—-another notch in the belt. Also, India seems like a more stable environment for a company to be in, with a lot of different sources of revenue.

    • I have to say I wonder the same thing about VM being a paid consultant, I don’t doubt his good intentions with Saab one bit but I see his involvement as more of a PR stunt with Brightwell and an attempt to gain inside knowledge more than a true sign of this being right new owner for Saab. I have zero confidence in an investment company with no knowledge of reviving a bankrupt car company or even running a profitable car company as a successful recipe for Saab’s future. The whole middle eastern oil money involvement is a huge red flag as well, you have to wonder what kind of car company oil tycoons are going to want to create, my guess is nothing like where Saab was headed before. I believe VM saved Saab but despite his endorsement, I’m hoping M&M buy the company.

  7. Angelo:
    That story is so goofy, it falls in the category of space aliens buying Saab and making new ones on Mars. Well, come to think about it, as long as they were as good as the old 900, I think we all could support that as well.

  8. One question lingers in the shadows……
    What made VM and SW turn their hopes on YM? After all the energy invested in YM by VM one would have thought he should be the advisor for YM in this phase. But he´s not. And SW clearly states that YM never can convince him that they are a possible future owner.
    Well, there are two books I will buy when this is over. No make that Three.
    1 – “Behind the board room doors at Saab I” by VM
    2 – “Behind the board room doors at Saab II” by SW
    3 – “Saab survived. A miracle.” by Unknown 🙂

    • How about – The Chinese didn’t want to hire him but the Turkish did?
      He is working FOR them, of course he is going to talk up his future employer and talk down the otehrs.

    • Youngman had a year to get this done. They did not, be it because they hesitated too often too much or they did not have the finances. They had their try and honestly, they are the smallest player in this now.

      • They hesitated? Not enough money? Look, I’m pulling for Mahindra, but this wasn’t a case of take a number and wait your turn. Youngman was first to the party and from what I can tell, their bid(s) and financial backing (as well as industry experience) dwarfs Brightwell.

  9. Sounds good, lot of potential in Turkey, they are a developing nation with a huge population who may get into the EU at some point. Corrupt public officials are letting the place down along with a seeming shift away from Ataturks principles but there is hope with the next generation. Good luck Brightwell, if you buy, rebuild and produce great Saabs my money is headed your way.

  10. Looks good,
    In any way they might have, as the only one, a chance to put the existing (9-3, 9-4x, 9-5) on the road again. But what if GM says: “No”, what will be the other scenario from Brightwell, as well as from the others (Mahindra etc.). Waiting for the new Phoenix /9-3 after 1,5 year of engineering, and only one model? This timegap is huge.

    My opinion is, after waiting such a long time, sure there will be SAABs, but we don’t recognize them anymore as we used to. It’ll only be in our minds.
    So lets hope GM is on again (i hate it, but i see no options), do you?

  11. I wonder really what Victor was thinking when he tried to sell SAAB to Youngman. What he should have done FIRST is get a short list of interested parties and then sought GM’s opinion if any of them would be preferable suitable as a licensee. THEN he should have focused on that candidate. But he also kept SAAB operating FAR too long and waited FAR too long to enter administration… he is often too optimistic. But I hope he can help SAAB come back.

  12. Brightwell was so critical of how Saab was run under VM et al I am somewhat surprised he is saying anything about them let alone helping them. Just when you think it was strange before….

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