TTELA look to Russia for Saab backing

I’ve mentioned it here once or twice already, now TTELA are following up the Russian connection with the Koenigsegg Group, which is looking to buy Saab.
In truth, it’s actually a Russian/American connection and the man they’re focusing on isn’t listed as an owner in the new Koenigsegg Group, but he’s the Chairman of that group and seemingly, he’s the guy who’s bringing the powerful connections.
His name is Augie Fabela.
TTELA cite him as one of the main players in this group due to the makeup of the other players involved.
Fabela is US born and educated, but after a stint working in Japan in his 20s, he formed a telecommunications compant called Vimpelcom in the early 1990s. That company went on to be the first Russian company listed on the New York Stock exchange.
Also involved in the operations is a US lawyer named Melissa Schwartz. She is from the Washington law firm called Akin, Gamp, Strauss, Hower & Feld and has been named as the deputy Chair of the Koenigsegg Group board. Previously, with Vimpelcom, she had the brief to “help restructure the company into an efficient organisation and attract capital” (is she to be the one they’d call the toecutter here in Australia??)
The other person in the current Saab affair with clear links to Fabela is the legal adviser L Pranav Trivedi. As with Schwartz and Fabela, he has built his career in the Russian market. He was also an advisor to Vimpelcom when they bought the company, Golden Telecom, a multi-billion dollar business.
There were a lot of questions about Koenigsegg’s ability to finance the Saab deal given their small size.
This article from TTELA once again reinforces that there are players in the background aside from the talent out front.
Saab have been quite adamant about stating that Koenigsegg have plenty of financial resources available and it definitely looks like a lot of that money is coming from the east. Let’s hope there aren’t too many strings attached.

Dagens Industri on Mark Bishop

One of the reasons the Koenigsegg deal isn’t quite the ecstatic squal-inducing situation that the name suggests it should be is because there’s people in the background who not only seem to have – shall we say ‘questionable’ – past careers, and because they seem determined to keep themselves out of the spotlight.
One of those people – and I don’t know if there’s any more, but I’ve a feeling there are more – is an American guy by the name of Mark Bishop.
The Swedish newspaper, Dagens Industri, sent a few reporters over to the US to try and dig up some more information about him. They came up reasonably short. Most of what they found has already been mentioned here through research conducted by myself, Karen and a few others, but there are some interesting additions and extra context here that make it a worthwhile read.
This article hasn’t appeared online, so I owe Börjesson a huge debt of gratitude for the translation and the addition of it to last night’s comments.
The mystery surrounding Bishop thickens
Who is the mysterious American businessman behind Koenigsegg’s purchase of Saab Automobile? DI has investigated Mark Bishop’s business deals in southern California and found a man who is involved in a large number of companies that have dealt in high risk loans, so called subprime loans.
Nothing that DI has discovered suggests that he has any large fortune that could finance a takeover of Saab.
Before the Saab deal became known, 53 year old Mark Bishop was an anonymous San Diego businessman. He has no connection to the car industry or any other manufacturing industry.
Instead, Mark Bishop has spent the last 25 years working with loan financing for housing, and especialy so called subprime loans which are one of the reasons for the financial crisis. The idea was to give loans to people who for some reason had bad or no credit rating, and to charge high interest. The companies that Mark Bishop worked within had as their business idea to either negotiate loans or to package them into securities and receive a few tenths of a percent interest for their trouble.
“This was a market that was totally out of control, where companies gave loans to people who simply couldn’t pay them back”, says Paul Leonard, head of the interest group Center for Responsible Lending in California.
Saved by Citigroup
Paul Leonard has only come across the name Mark Bishop once. That was when the large American bank Citigroup was forced to rescue Mark Bishop’s company Quick Loan Funding. However, he says that Mark Bishop could well have been a major player in southern Californai without appearing on the group’s radar.

Read moreDagens Industri on Mark Bishop

Koenigsegg’s legal team give some insights….

Turbin’s tracked down some good information on who’s working behind the scenes on Koenigsegg’s purchase of Saab from General Motors.
A post on the legal weblog, amlawdaily, indicates that Koenigsegg’s international counsel on this deal is a guy by the name of Pranav Trivedi, who works for a law firm called Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. They call themselves Skadden for short.
Trivedi works in Skadden’s London office, but has a much wider history than that, including what I think must be a link to one of the members of The Koenigsegg Group.
Trivedi’s inclusion on the team is two things:
It’s good if you like very experienced operators who are named by Chambers Global as one of the World’s Leading Lawyers for Business and a guy who’s pulled off one deal that was awarded Deal of the Year by publication – The Banker.
It’s not-so-good if you’re wary of Russian connections and possibly, Russian money.
The Koenigsegg connection appears to be Augie Fabela, who was a founder and chief of Vimpelcom, a Russian telecommunications company, until 2002. Fabela has been named as Chairman of the newly formed Koenigsegg Group board, though he is not listed as a shareholder in the Koenigsegg Group.
Trivedi has listed on his CV, amongst many other things, the following:

Mr Trivedi’s experience in mergers and acquisitions transactions in Russia includes, among other matters, advising:

  • the special committee of the board of directors of Golden Telecom, Inc. in Vimpel-Communications’s US$4.3 billion acquisition of Golden Telecom via a tender offer;

In addition to that possibly direct relatationship, it should be noted that Fabela is connected to a US-Russia Business Council and that the bulk of Trivedi’s experience is in Russian business circles. I’m sure their paths have crossed several times.

The link to Russia may scare some, but do not lose sight of the fact that Travedi has impeccable credentials (including education at Columbia and Yale), a superb and award-winning reputation and the one thing that Koenigsegg’s been criticised for a little – he’s got plenty of experience in this field.
I’m confident that time spent staring over the table at the odd Russian oligarch has prepared him for negotiations with General Motors.
And by the way, Turbin has received an honorary Simon Townsend’s WonderWorld Woodrow the Bloodhound award for this piece of work.
Wear it with pride, cobber!!
Thanks to Kroum for the artwork!

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