When following the events in Trollhättan from time to time we came across the name “Fouriertransform AB“. There is not too much known about them in public, let alone the investors they cooperate with. Basically they are a state owned venture capital company with the mission to strengthen the automotive sector in Sweden. Recent projects included the setop of Lean Nova, an engineering company that has hired a number of former Saab engineers and an investment in Vicura, a powertrain development company where many engineers from Saab Powertrain found a new home.
They were originally said to be interested in the Saab factory too but also the testing facilities, the entertainment development department and a few other things that fit their current investments.
Per Nordberg is the CEO of Fouriertransform AB. He was pretty critical towards Volvos bid for the Saab factory assets, stating that it was not helpful for the region if things were shipped to China. A true statement if you ask me. I approached him and asked him to answer some questions regarding their activity in the sales process. My thanks to him for taking the time to do that.
Q: From a distance one could get the impression that Fouriertransform’s involvement is some kind of a Plan B if a complete sale of Saab should fail to keep the assets in Sweden. How would you describe your intentions in this process?
A: For Fouriertransform our portfolio company LeanNova is offering high technical engineering consultancy work independently if Saab will be one company or not – the aim is to provide a service that can be used for any trade-mark.
Q: How is your opinion on the possibility that the production facilities may be sold and shipped to China?
A: This is always a concern that domestic business can lose its competiveness – if so it will be moved but if companies will be maintained the platform can be used out of Sweden
Q: We know that you have shown interest in the Saab factory but there were also other assets mentioned. What parts of Saab are you interested in?
A: We are not interested in the factory but we can provide service out of our offices – yes some parts of the bankruptcy family is still of interest
Q: Basically, Fouriertransform is a Venture Capital company so one would think it is mainly about investing in start ups. How does bidding for assets of Saab fit in your mission?
A: Venture Capital company needs to get a balanced portfolio – in this case its fits well when our current investments mainly is in early stage
Q: With companies like Lean Nova and Vicura you already absorbed quite a number of Saab’s engineers and thereby experience and knowledge. If you should get hold of the assets you are interested in would that be to engage a new car company or even to revive Saab?
A: You are right the engineering team is the heart of a car-production and development, which means that we have the possibility to support a customer development work ie any trademark that needs to utilize our skilled engineers
Q: According to your homepage you have a capital of three billion SKr. Given that you already have a number of investments is there enough capital left to compete with bidders like Volvo? Do you have additional funds from private parties investing through you?
A: Yes each every business case is reviewed together with private parties – Fouriertransform should not be a majority owner in the long run.
Q: From your personal view, how do estimate the chances that Saab will return to life ans start making cars in Trollhättan again?
A: Difficult to say but everything is there – so it should not be too difficult with a long term investor.
Not that he revealed too many news in this and they are definetely not in there to bid for Saab as a whole. They are trying to save knowledge and experience in the region. But in the end this helps a potential owner of Saab as they can use those companies in the future. And as Fouriertransform is not in there to be the only owner of their companies it may in the very long run even be possible to re-integrate those engineering spin-offs into a prospering Saab.
Even in worst case there is a lot of knowledge preserved in those companies that could be the start for something new. And, just as important, it is jobs for some great people.