Jonsson and Geers on Saab’s review

UPDATE: CNN Money Report at the bottom
UPDATE II: Automotive News comment
UPDATE III: Swedish minister meeting with German counterparts
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Swedish newspapers Dagens Nhyeter and Dagens Industri have run a few articles featuring comments by Saab Sweden’s Jan-Ake Jonsson and Eric Geers.
Thankfully, ctm’s provided a translation of the salient points. I’ll get to work on a full translation shortly.
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Jan-Åke Jonsson at Dagens Nhyeter:
He does not interpret the strategic review as Saab is up for sale – despite that Fritz henderson said that GM is looking for a buyer.
He says that Saab is now working on a plan to secure the short and long term funding.
He characterizes the current dialogue with the Swedish government as “good and constructive,” and he sees major possibilities for the government to ha ve a positive impact in this “critical situation.”
– “The government now has the possibility to have some influence and create some cooperation between the four auto industries in the country.”
He thinks that Saab is well prepared when that market gets going again, and claims that the brand is an important part in the GM brand portfolio.
– “Saab is GMs only European premium brand in a growing and important segment.”
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Eric Geers at Dagens Industri:
– “A global strategic review of Saab does not mean a sale of Saab, but rather how we can secure the future of Saab and how to raise the money.”
– “It could mean that we work together with an external partner.”
– “There are a number of interesting possibilities. But, of course, you can never exclude the possibility that we sometime will be sold.”
He points out that the most important now is to secure the future products and the funding of those.”
Do you think that Saab will benefit from the money that GM eventually can get from the Congress?
– “It depends solely on the Congress and their attitude. One could imagine that there will a bit too much America.”
– “But it is probably the same with other governments.”
As many others do, Saab also seeks support from the government. But so far, it has been without much result.
– “The current economic situation is as it is. But it extremely important to find a solution to secure future investments.”
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From CNN Money, a further comment on the Jan-Ake Jonsson interviews:

STOCKHOLM (AFP)–Several companies have voiced interest in purchasing beleaguered Swedish car maker Saab if its owner, struggling U.S. giant General Motors Corp. (GM), decided to sell, Saab’s chief executive told Swedish public radio on Wednesday.
“There are many interested parties. I don’t want to mention any specific names but there are many (interested) companies that work with development and support car production, both in Europe and outside of Europe,” Jan Aake Jonsson said.
“There are many different alternatives and I don’t want to go into specifics but it’s obvious the discussions we have had so far have been with companies within the automobile industry,” he said.
Jonsson’s comments came a day after GM said it would “review” the future of its Saab and Saturn brands as it struggles to survive and restructures its business to focus on core brands.
GM said it will “immediately undertake a global strategic review of the Saab brand,” in a statement outlining a restructuring plan it presented to Congress in hopes of securing some $18 billion in government-backed loans.
BMW AG (BMW.XE), Renault SA (13190.FR) and Tata Motors (TTM) are all reportedly potential buyers.

BMW?
Not according to the last report. But that was then, I guess.
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And from Automotive News:

With Ford Motor ready to sell Volvo and General Motors considering a possible sale of Saab, Sweden is being hit badly by the storm that is currently threatening the whole car industry.
The question is not just who would want the Swedish brands, but why would anyone want them?
…..In terms of being green, Saab is ahead of Volvo with its biofuel and turbocharging technology.
GM has neglected Saab’s brand character for too long. The Swedish brand has only received the attention it deserves in the last couple of years under Carl-Peter Forster, who is GM Europe’s president and Saab’s chairman.
Forster’s new Saab model range has still not been revealed but the 9-X BioHybrid and 9-X Air concepts have received very positive responses.
If GM sells Saab, Forster will neither enjoy the fruits of his efforts for the brand nor will Ford ever benefit from its commitment to develop Volvo into a world class brand with strong premium values.

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I’m absolutely knackered from the last few nights, so please forgive me if I limit my own comment on this stuff and just pass on the news in bulk.
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From Reuters:

Sweden’s industry minister said on Wednesday Sweden was talking to German authorities regarding its auto sector and she hoped to have more information soon on car units Volvo and Saab now the intent of their U.S. parents was clear.
Industry Minister Maud Olofsson told a news conference she does not think the state should be in the business of owning car companies.
“I have talked to my counterpart in Germany who is working on these issues. These (talks) revolve around the fact that Saab and Opel are very closely linked and we of course want to know how Germany is thinking about this,” Olofsson said.
“We want to know how they see their relationship with Opel and we will intend to try present how we see Saab’s situation. But in the current situation, these (talks) have had more of an exploratory nature.”

Saab officially placed “under review” by General Motors

The full text of GM’s submission to the US Congress leaked early (surprise surprise).
To save you all the trouble of looking, here’s the only sentence in the 27-page document that mentions Saab:

GM will also immediately undertake and expedite a strategic review of the Saab brand globally.

That’s it. One sentence. 15 words.
To make that little bit of corporate-speak clear – Saab is now up for sale.
You guys keep posting in comments. I’m going to try and make sense of it all and post a summary up here on site so keep checking in.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to scream a nice, loud SCREW YOU to all the mofos at GM have who have sucked the life out of our favourite little brand and now intend to hang it out to dry. May the hairs on your bum turn into fish hooks and rip the sh!t out of you.
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Comment of the moment, from Troll96:

Notice how GM plans to increase its emphasis on flex-fuel cars, hybrid technology, turbocharging and 4 cylinder engines. So, of course, Saab has to get the ax. Am I missing something here?

Rignt now, in the heat of this particular moment, I hope Wagoner’s Malibu hybrid breaks down on the way to Washington.
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Here are the bones of the GM plan for those who can’t be bothered reading through the whole thing:
GM’s plan involves the following moves:

• Slashing hourly costs in North America by $3.6 billion in an attempt to make GM competitive with foreign automakers no later than 2012. GM currently has 96,000 workers and the goal is to have 65,000 to 75,000 workers by 2012.
• Reducing or eliminating four of its eight brands and cutting the number of dealers. The plan involves exploring the sale of Saab, talking to dealers about the future of Saturn and shrinking the Pontiac brand to more of a niche offering.
• Cutting executive compensation and eliminating its corporate aircraft fleet. CEO Rick Wagoner will take a $1 salary next year, and GM is cutting the top four senior executives will see their cash compensation slashed 50 percent in 2009. Neither Wagoner nor top executives will receive bonuses this year or in 2009.
• Complying with the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which was designed to improve fuel efficiency and cut dependence on foreign oil. GM outlined its current lineup of cars and crossover vehicles and plans to shift its portfolio towards producing even more of the fuel-efficient vehicles. For 2009, GM has 18 models in the U.S. that gets 30 mpg on the highway and that push towards more fuel-efficient vehicles will continue, Henderson said.

The bill for all this?

GM is asking for $18 billion in financing, which includes a $12 billion loan and a $6 billion revolving line of credit that would be tapped if the market worsens.
The automaker would make several withdrawals of the cash in coming months. GM needs $4 billion this month to pay its bills and would draw $4 billion more in January.
GM would make a $2 billion withdrawal in February or March for a total of $10 billion. The remaining $2 billion would help ensure GM has enough cash to pay its bills through the end of next year, assuming an annualized sales rate of 12 million units.
The $6 billion line of credit could be tapped if the U.S. auto industry worsens to an annualized rate of 10.5 million units.

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