Swedish Television examines the controversies around Saab — part II

As Tim reported a few weeks ago, Swedish television have explored part of the story of what went on in 2011 concerning Saab. The program can be viewed on svtplay.se and parts of it is in English.

I won’t go into details, but some quick notes to follow:

Most of what was revealed has been reported here on SU before, but tied neatly together to present a more fleshed out picture of the situation.

Victor gave the reporters full access to his e-mail archive and there was a significant change in the way SweGov communicated with VM after Saab asked for approval of Antonov. Prior to the crisis, Victor was invited to the 50th birthday of a SweGov official (Hans Lindblad), and afterwards all he got was “your official contact with swegov is nn”.

Hans Lindblad figured in the talks between Geely and Guy Lofalk (hired by Saab to head up the reconstruction). Both Lindblad and Lofalk refused to comment. The reporters asked for all e-mails between Lofalk and Lindblad, which they eventually received a copy of… …only to discover that 99% of the e-mails (basically everything besides to/from/date in the header) had been redacted. Hans Lindblad’s greatest concern was that the journalists had managed to get his mobile phone number. He (a servant of the people) quite emphatically refused to comment.

The ministry of finance (that was fingered in the Geely/Lofalk deal) told the reporters that it was the ministry of commerce who handled all questions concerning Saab. The relevant secretary then spent five minutes refusing to comment on any question. He could confirm there had been a meeting between Lofalk, Lindblad and a representative from Geely, but could not discuss the nature of those discussions.

They also discussed what they thought was Lofalk’s plan: To force Victor to let go of Saab, basically by having SweGov seize Saab (aided by NDO’s claim on Saab Parts) and sell it off immediately to Geely. Again, the e-mail communication between Lindblad and Lofalk has been redacted. They had every opportunity to comment on this, but clearly chose not to do so.

Antonov was ready to invest 100 million euros into Saab (March 2011) at a point in time where Saab only needed 30 million euros to get rolling again. NDO said ‘yes’, swegov kept their mouth shut (the Anders Borg – Eva Srejber connection was not discussed today) and EIB said ‘no’. EIB btw were the ones with no risk in this situation. NDO later paid EIB what Saab owed EIB.

Lars Carlström told the reporters that Hans Lindblad told him that Lars should give up on Saab. “Sweden is doing fine now, we can take care of Trollhättan when Saab falls”. Hans Lindblad refused to comment and again told the reporters that all Saab questions were to be handled by the other ministry.

Bo Lundgren (head of NDO) stated that they could find no fault with Antonov. If the ministry of finance knows something, then this has not been communicated to NDO. NDO hired an independent private investigator firm to look into questions surrounding the Antonov family and they also had a long talk with Antonov. They still do not know of any evidence that indicates any crimes committed by Antonov.

31 thoughts on “Swedish Television examines the controversies around Saab — part II”

  1. There is nothing there that was unheard of, but, they managed to nail down several things as hard facts and just not rumors. A must see.

  2. Here’s hoping someone manages to get the show subtitled in English for us…
    The parts where Victor and Lofalk discuss are in English, but I’m really eager to know what the conclusions at the end are…

  3. The program showed that the Swedish gouvernment was much more involved in the killing of SAAB than what I have understood in the past. The Lofalk-Lindblad contact stinks more than I belived. The politicians in the opposition and in Trollhättan should now act and demand to have all the secret e-mails between Lofalk-Linblad to be opend for the public to reveal what really happend.

  4. It’s nice to just see this get coverage from a source other than a Saab fan group like ourselves. Quite often we will bring things up and the general public will blow it off and just say it’s those crazy Saab fans….. Guess they can’t say that now and people need to look at their government with clear glasses and see them for who or what they are.

  5. It was a good show. They did not make fun of Victor Muller, they treated him with respect.

    To bad that Gay Lofalk didn’t slip is tongue when VM recorded him. He must have felt that VM was up to something.

    Interesting that all emails was “blacked out”, it clearly shows that swegov had an own agenda.

    To bad Bo Lundgren isn’t head of Moderaterna (as he was a couple of years ago), I get the feeling that he had handled Saab better than the 2 schoolboys Borg and Reinfeld.

  6. This documentary is a very good and fair summary of what really happened around Saab, as opposed to the tradional Swedish media coverage which is more or less directed by the government lobby. However it only shows the ‘tip-of-the-iceberg-involvement’ from the governments side to stab Saab in the back. They also make Guy Lofalk a bigger crook than he was, if you look at the whole picture of the governments acting over a longer period. The resposible for Saabs death are higher up in the Swedish and International political hierarchy.

    I looked at the livechat forum over at SVT after the show. And my overall impression of the comments is that the program has really turned the heads of many Swedes, who had the ‘regular’ Swedish media picture in their minds.
    And that’s really good.

  7. The fact that the E-Mails had been redacted shows enough – you simply can´t trust those people. Bald. The Swedish public should know this for the future.

  8. I believe us 2010-11 Saab owners should go after the Swedish government to compensate us for lost value and warranties. If it wasn’t for their behavior, perhaps Saab would still be around today.

  9. I’m usually not the one for conspiracy theories, but I’ve been saying all along “the Swedish government is trying to get rid of Saab”. Victor really stuck his neck through the noose when accepting the loan(s) from EIB that, at that point, had some incestuous relationship with the Swedish government. Then Antonov got refused, then, and then, and then, etc…… all leading to the final demise of Saab at the hands of the Swedish government or its minions.
    Of course there is a whole bunch of people/organizations that lost a lot of capital, amongst them also the buyers of 2010-2012 Saabs. Victor Muller lost Saab and the prospect to turn it into a profitable business. The suppliers lost a lot of money when Saab wasn’t able to pay them anymore. The workers at Saab lost their jobs. Trollhattan lost a business that they were ad could have been proud of and that still would have acted as an economic engine.
    The big question is of course what is going to happen now. I’d like to see heads roll, but in the end that just means that some scapegoats get assigned. What really needs to happen is that financial amends need to be made by the Swedish government. As I understand it Saab Parts is now in the hands of the Swedish government? Any profits made there should in no way end up in the governments coffers. Rather parts should be heavily discounted to compensate current Saab owners for their loss of ‘capital’. If all the crap about the shady (criminal?, well definitely immoral) Swedish government operations comes above table then some case should be made against them by Victor Muller and the suppliers. Of course trying to sue a government is like catching eels with your bare hands. By the time you think you got some grip on them there will have been a change of guards and the new government will claim that there are more important things to take care off. Yeah, I know I’m cynical.
    Well see. At least Victors name should be cleared. I’ve met the guy, I really liked the guy and I think that he was very sincere in his intentions of saving Saab. Ugh, these are the kind of stories that really make you loose confidence in governments.

  10. Is it possible that the US gov’t at the time didn’t want SAAB’s ownership to have any Russian participation, and hence directed the Swedish gov’t to that effect ? Pure speculation, I know.

  11. The program was just a confirmation that the whole thing was wangle from the beginning.
    The Swedish gov has decided to let Saab go and did everything they could to help SAAB
    go bancrupt. This just makes me sad and angry to be a Swedish ….
    The gov has long ago put a “face” to the German phrase “Stupid Schweden”.
    And talk about corruption in a “democracy”.

    We Will Never Forget Or Forgive

  12. I get the feeling that Geely only wanted the equipment and ship it to China so if they had succeeded in their take over with the help of swegov there had been absolutely no chance of Saab to emerge from the dead. Now there is a little hope in the form of Nevs.

    Nevs, please bring the new 9-5 SportCombi back from the dead!

  13. The bottom line here is that whatever the conspiracy theory, whether GM or the Swedish Government or both got in the way of SAAB and Victor’s success, the fact is that the acquisition was under financed, and in the re start of SAAB, not enough cars were sold profitably in the short amount of time that the underfinancing allowed.

    Additionally, the fact that world economy was in crisis at the time, the automobile business was struggling to create demand, and SAAB and its dealers in particular had been declining for several years, the timing for a restart of the business could not have been worse.

    We we were all fans, I’ll run and thoroughly enjoy my 04 9-3 and my brides 09 9-5 for as long as I can, but SAAB as we knew it is dead, and it was wishful thinking at best that Victor Muller could have saved it, even if Anatov had been allowed to invest, even if The Swedish Govewrnment and GM had been more cooperative.

    Sorry folks … those are the facts.

    • SWAN ended up being underfinanced, after swegov eliminated Antonov (and dragged their feet while doing so thus hampering the search for alternative financing — note that Riksgälden even today remains positive towards Antonov).

      Keep in mind that Saab’s product line was undergoing a substantial lift back in 11Q1. 9-3 Griffin (low on CO2, high on bph), 9-5 SC and 9-4X. It makes little sense to compare this lineup with what they had even only a year before.

  14. I’ve very seldom seen or heard people in these high positions being so nervous and evasive… Even GL was chased around for months just for a comment -which was no comment when basically called a liar.

    What are they hiding? The deal with Geely was obviously not to save Saab Automobile. GM had wished the good night and good luck with Volvo the very next morning.
    To thing they’d retained the IP rights to build Saabs is ludicrous.

    • Yes, i agree on that. Both Guy Lofalk and Hans Lindblad (on the phone) was nervous and evasive. Especially Guy Lofalk whose body language said it all.

  15. Sadly, Oliver, the swedish media did not give the story much attention. Facts that do not make Victor Muller look bad are not interesting for them, I guess.
    Anyway the program focused on Guy Lofalk and what looked like a coup to get rid off Victor. And that is very much water under the bridge by now as far as the swedish media are concerned.

    I watched the program this morning, and the thing that made the biggest impression on me, was the melancholic face and voice of Antonov when he expressed his surprise over the fact that the swedish government showed no interest in saving Saab at all. Antonov made a very honest impression there. He truly seemed to have expected to be treated as a hero when he offered to invest those hundreds of millions.
    He said something like “Saab was your national treasure, not mine”.
    To me the biggest scandal in this story is the fact that this supposedly neo-liberal-let-the-market-run-itself-government not only failed to do anything to help this old important industry survive, but actually were very active in trying (and succeeding) to block investors like Antonov, and effectively kill Saab (as we know it).

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