We have seen a lot of ups and downs in last years attempts to find a suiting investor for Saab. We gained hope many time only to be brought down again for example by GM. So it is no big surprise that we got even more critical towards parties that are in this process, not matter if they are rumored or a fact. In some stages it even feels like people demand those parties to disclose their bids to us so we can judge them. But really, why should they?
Since the 19th of december the whole process has moved behind closed doors which I see as a very good thing. It was maybe easier for us before as we had more things to report on but for the goal itself, is will surely be helpful. Those parties have to convince the receivers, not us. Still, we were able to get in contact with several parties who are there and they of course understand the value of the community. But right now it is business time.
So what is left for us right now? I already used the term of the dots we are thrown and that we have to connect to our best knowledge. But as always, there is not only one way to do that. Sometimes you just draw a sideline to see what happens. And sometimes you sep back a bit to get a better view of the big picture. In the end this is nothing else that the out of the box thinking we all like so much about our favourite car company and that we demand from a future Saab.
Looking at the discussions in comments I tend to feel that this different way of thinking got lost among some of us somehow. Quite a few tend to look at interested parties with a certain degree of bias, thinking a lot of possible backsides of each party – once bitten, twice shy you might say. But while doing that you may miss the chance to see the opportunities. And there are many as I’d like to point out on a few examples.
The news that Tata should have placed a bid yesterday almost started a perty. That party ended as Ratan Tata denied that report today. While I was happy to see the news about Tata yesterday it also left me surprised that both big Indian companies would enter the process. Looking at it from a different angle there is a good chance that Tata and Mahindra & Mahindra had talks about Saab back in India. The know each other and have certain ties, they even cooperate in some fields. And from what I have heared about the Indian business guys it is quite likely that they decided that only one of them should enter the bidding process. It is a very expensive process you can easily spend several million Euro on and even more if you end ub in a real bidding war. No need for both to spend that amoiunt. Of course that does not mean that they can’t use certain synergies between JLR and Saab. Saab would fit perfectly in a maket segment just below Jaguar so there is no too much interference here. It may be a win-win scenario for M&M and Tata just because they handle things a bit different.
Youngman is another example where a lot of fears come up. Of course China has quite a track record in copying everything they could get their hands on. But things are changing. Through the change of economy they had to learn that this won’t sustain their economy forever. Last year I read an article about a small toolmaker from the heart of Germany that has been bought by a Chinese company a few years ago. While production in China is of course up and running they also kept production of the high quality stuff and development of the company in Germany because they know about the value of the work that is done here and the reputation. I have been quite critical about Youngman several times but I don’t believe that they will start up Trollhättan which will consume a huge amount of time and money just to tear things down again in five years to move everything to China. From a business view this would be outright dumb. If they start up Trollhättan they are here to stay for a long time. Even more, because their home market is getting more and more difficult through the new regulations Youngman may be pretty happy if they get a foot on the ground in Europe.
One thing that really annoys me is that when it comes to BMW it is so often stated “look what they did to Rover”. Forget about that. Different time, different position, different circumstances. They got out of the Rover adventure with a black eye and I am pretty sure they learned their lesson, most of all to look properly what they are buying. If they should be in this they are looking for another chance to archieve the goal of two million sold units per year (which is believed to be nessesary to stay independent) or they want to sell stuff from their parts bin. As I stated before I do not see them being the leading party in a bid so the latter seems quite likely.
The list of examples could go on. I know we have through tough times but still I want to encourage you to look at things from one more angle, ask yourself one more question. In every situation there is an opportunity. You may have to look twice but it is there and the fact that so many parties are there trying to acquire Saab is a good sign in itself. We all have our preferences but there is more than one shot. And those who got that far won’t leave before this is done. They have simply invested too much.
Let’s show them that we are still that open-minded, enthusiastic community that a new owner who works to restart Saab can count on. When it comes to me my love for the brand grew a lot in those troubled times, maybe even more than it would have if things were smoother. Tata was mentioned and sent a denial. This is no reason to loose hope. They would have been nice in this process but they are not the messiah either. Keep going. The best is yet to come.