Whenever there is a story on the progress in the bidding process criticism comes up about the timeframe. Many here think the receivers are working too slow and that every day more it takes to sign a deal does even more damage to Saab, be it through bad press or employees finding new jobs.
To be honest, I cannot follow those argumants at all. On the contrary, from what I get to know, I see the receivers are doing a good job. The impression of a slow process mostly comes through the little information we get. But as always the look from the outside does not reflect what is happening behind closed doors.
Another issue is that for our feel the whole thing started with the production stop over a year ago. But when it comes to the people in charge right know we have to admit that they got to start their mission just before christmas. This is a huge difference.
A serious number of former Saab employees have found new jobs – but many at engineering companies that are still in the area. So a new Saab can still hire knowledge and experience from there. With the right buyer Saab 2.0 will be able to re-attract former employees as well as new, experienced people who want to be part of the recreation of a heritaged brand. Something that will be hard to find at any other place in the world.
Since bankrupcy was declared, all parties (with the exception of Youngman) that showed up had to get a picture of the company and to evaluate the assets. They had to set up a solid business plan. Not only to present it to the receivers but also to judge the chance of succeeding by themselves. All things that are not done in a second. A process called due diligence, as in making absolutely clear which risks are to be located where is something that takes time. But the more time is spent on this, the less disaster any possible surprise can and will achieve.
I know Saab had an original business plan for the next five years. It was used in the presentations for potential investors, but this plan is void now, it ended with bankrupcy. Almost all basic conditions have changed since then. You need different ideas, looking at this just like it was a startup company. A huge task but also a enormous opportunity if you take the right steps.
And designing such a plan takes time. We should acknowledge this when we judge the process and the parties in it. Hastiness has done too much damage in the past. I tend to believe that for example the production restart in 2010 was too quick, though with the best intentions. Something like Cheetah should have come first in my opinion. At the moment things were restarted in 2010 a lot of stuff still had to be freed from the GM days, and indeed the GM integrated systems. A lot of contracts had to be re negotiated, some of which actually provided the new owners with major headaches. Let’s not forget that when this process was taking place, a number of suppliers all of a sudden took a very aggressive financial stance, which in the end was nothing but a shoot yourself in the foot exercise. Many of us seem to tend to forget where things went South. Any possible new owner/investor will obviously wish to avoid such a drama from being reinacted. But this is easy to judge with today’s knowledge.
It’s of no use to cry over spilled milk, we have to look at the future. Once Saab is back in a safe port there will be some time to analyze what happened in the past two years. If we believe the Swedish press there are now two parties left in this game so the whole process is entering the final stage.
When thinking about venting critisim regarding what is going on behind closed doors, remember that none of us (apart from very few) have the full picture. If parts are indeed missing then one should really consider if writing is really the best way to go. Remember we as a Saab community are to a degree the face of this process. Remember that a Saab driver is seen as very individualistic but also someone willing to wait before he or she can invest in a new car.
In the end we will see that time is indeed crucial. The time that the receivers gave the bidders to set up a proper plan. This made sure they remained in the process. If they had rushed them, they might have been gone long before. I, for one, am willing to wait if this means Saab gets a place where it can prosper.