If we’ve learned anything through this whole Saab-sale experience, it’s that newspapers can write damning and downright incorrect stories about the Saab sale, get away with almost zero reputational damage and get themselves a whole lot of coverage around the world (don’t underestimate the hunger for inbound links when it comes to online reporting).
Norwegian newpaper, DN.no, caused a storm overnight when they claimed a whole bunch of backroom deals were in progress between Mark Bishop and some Eastern European mafia types. All this despite the fact that Bishop has been reported previously to no longer own any shares in Koenigsegg Group.
It’s an interesting situation, this one. DN.no’s story is so far removed from what’s been reported so far that it either has to be true (with KG feeding us a bunch of BS for the last few months), or it’s a total and mischevious fabrication. Given that they seem to be relying on the word of a guy they damn for being a convicted felon, I’m betting on the latter.
<<UPDATE – ‘Oddjob’ has sent me a good, edited translation from the original article, which I’ve added in full at the end of this editorial>>
I’m working from a GoogleTrans, but DN.no seem to be saying the following:
- Bishop was the ideas man when it came to the takeover of Saab, enlisting the help of Koenigsegg and others in the process.
- Koenigsegg’s record of Bishop’s departure states that it was a mutual shareholder decision, citing negative publicity surrounding his stake in the group
- DN.no say that in reality, he was ‘thrown out’ of the group when they became fearful of his connections and intentions to get some shady Russian figures involved in the deal.
- DN.no have some quotes from Eker, saying that the board was ‘terrified’ and had to get Mark out. They also quote Eker as saying that if all funding issues aren’t sorted by this Wednesday, September 30, then the group will pull the pin on the whole transaction
They also claim that Bishop has engaged a guy who is a convicted fraudster, a guy by the name of Thomas Øye, to sell his shares in Koenigsegg Group. This is despite the fact that they quote Bishop himself (after saying he declined comment) as saying that he has no shares to sell.
Thomas Øye claims that he has been asked Bishop to sell the shares, and it’s this conflict in answers that seems to be the basis for the whole story. When in doubt, err on the side of the fraudster with a story to tell.
This story got picked up by Dagens Industri in Sweden and it took off from there. I posted a translation of the DI.se story on the site last night before crashing to a jetlagged night’s sleep.
I contacted Saab for a comment on it and this morning received a brief “all continues according to plan” reply, which is about as much as could reasonably be expected. If they had to provide detailed responses on every theory posed by the nordic press, they’d never get any work done.
For his part, Bard Eker has said to Auto Motor and Sport that he was mis-quoted in the original DN.no article, and as with Saab, he says that all is proceeding according to plan.
Editors of Auto Motor & Sport have been in contact with Bård Eker on Saturday morning and then been told to work with Saab affair continues according to plan. Bard Eker claims to be misquoted and has nothing further to add at this time.
Christian von Koenigsegg has also said the same to Reuters:
Koenigsegg’s top executive said on Saturday the luxury sport scar maker still aimed to finalize a deal to buy Saab Automobile from General Motors (GM.UL) by the end of October.
Koenigsegg Chief Executive and part owner Christian von Koenigsegg also told Reuters that good progress was being made in talks to secure Swedish state guarantees for billions of crowns of loans from the European Investment Bank (EIB).
“Our deadline for the deal still remains the end of October as we have previously said,” he said.
The thing that tips my opinion in favour of a DN.no beat-up is the fact their story seems to ignore a few things.
It ignores, for example, the change in ownership structure with 42% of the Koenigsegg Group now being owned by Augie Fabela’s Solsken company.
It ignores the addition of Beijing Automotive to the financial structure, which has taken the heat out of the transaction in terms of funds required.
These are pretty large things to ignore. When you need a story and you’ve got a source (Øye) willing to say something, even if it’s in contradiction to statements made by the key person concerned (Bishop) then I guess the story’s too inviting to be ignored.
It’s little wonder the Koenigsegg people are reluctant to do interviews with the Scandinavian press at the moment. I imagine they’ll be more forthcoming when the deal is done and the real work begins.
Following is a full edited GoogleTrans from the original DN.no article. My thanks to ‘Oddjob’ for sending it through….
Hidden games can overturn Saab Agreement
HIDDEN GAME: They were to save the Swedish car maker Saab from bankruptcy. Wednesday can be the fairytale end
The shy loan shark Mark Bishop was the brain behind Saab’s rescue operation. Then he was thrown out of a collaboration with Koenigsegg group. In the quiet, he has initiated a financial game around Koenigsegg that can topple the entire Saab Agreement. The job gave him the fraud convicted ex x megleren Thomas Eye, newspaper Dagens Næringsliv on Saturday.
In May this year a group Koenigsegg enthusiasts found company Koenigsegg Group ab. The company consists of Christian von Koenigsegg, the Norwegian industrial designer Bård Eker, the U.S. Telecom billionaire Augie Fable II and Mark Bishop. Bishop is the company’s second-largest shareholder, with 22 percent.
16. June comes the message that will surprise the entire European automotive industry: Koenigsegg Group enters into an agreement with General Motors to buy Saab.
When Mark Bishop comes to Sweden, he takes his role as the automotive industry’s Greta Garbo.
He says not a word in the media. He evade photographers and get nicknames like “Saab-ghost” and “Spider.”
Both Saab and the Swedish government, said they know nothing about him. The media speculates in if he has any money at all. “We do not know much about Mark Bishop, but we will make a further investigation if it is appropriate in state loan guarantees,” says the Swedish Ministry of Economics in June.
They did not have to investigate him. On 25 June the board of Koenigsegg Group ab was gathered in Gothenburg. The partners have decided to kick Bishop. The board report gives the following explanation:
“Mark Bishop has been bombarded with negative press both in Sweden and the United States. A majority of the Directors has determined that these negative testimonials, may interfere with the ongoing transaction. To ensure that such attempts to interfere with the Saab transaction does not adversely affect the Koenigseggs efforts to implement Mark’s original goal to help Trollhättan community by putting together a group of investors to buy the Saab, the shareholders have agreed that he should resign from the board of Koenigsegg Group. ”
On the same day disappear Mark Bishop’s stake from Koenigsegg Groups share register.
Investors from Eastern Europe
But the story of Mark Bishop’s hasty departure is more than what is recorded in board minutes. Koenigsegg Board is aware that Bishop has contacts with “investors” from Eastern Europe who are trying to get into the Saab-trade. The Eastern Europeans wants to join in as shareholders. Bishops contacts scares Koenigsegg board. The board fears it may be about the Russian mafia, and concludes that the Bishops contacts can ruin the whole project. He must be sacrificed.
– Several of the board was completely terrified. Those of us who have done business in Russia before, knew how this can come to end. Either we had to cancel the whole project, or Mark had to be out, “says Bård Eker to DN.
Bishop has not answered any questions about this from Dagens Næringsliv.
Today, Bishop jobs for the Canadian Fund Omniarch, which buys residential debt for a low price. Omniarch is also a company that former stockbroker Thomas Eye know well. Eye has a very doubtful reputation because of his grey-market adventures and personal bankruptcy. He is convicted for fraud of five million from NOKAS David Toska.
Recently, the emigrated Thomas Eye worked to set up a new fund for Omniarch. In the late summer of this year, Mark Bishop visited Thomas Eye in his home in Marbella, Spain. Bishop givesThomas Eye a mission: Sell the 20 percent stake in Koenigsegg Group.
The Norwegian brokerage Carnegie has a time worked to bring investors to the new company, and in an investor presentation appreciates the Koenigsegg Group to one billion dollars if the purchase is in order – a so-called “pre-money valutation”.
If the new Saab comes into operation, and lives up to the new owners’ expectations, Carnegie values the company to 2.6 billion dollars. Koenigsegg-founders will eventually be left with 50 percent of the shares Saab, after the DN experience. If they succeed, the Koenigsegg-founders have shares in Saab to a value of 1.3 billion U.S. dollars – almost ten billion NEK.
But Mark Bishop has no time to wait for a possible breakthrough.
In early September, Thomas Eye offered investors 20 percent of the Koenigsegg group for 60 million dollars. This is almost half the price of the Carnegie appreciation of the Koenigsegg share. Later the price drops to 30 million.
– Do not know Eye
Despite the fact that DN has the documentation that shows that Mark Bishop has given Thomas Eye commission to sell Koenigsegg shares, he is denying today that he knows the Norwegian finance acrobat. Or that he has any shares to sell.
– I am neither a shareholder or board member of the Koenigsegg. I have no shares, “said Bishop.
– We know that Thomas Eye is trying to sell your stocks?
– It is impossible – when I do not have any share, The only ones that represent Koenigsegg Group, is Carnegie, “says Bishop.
Thomas Eye confirms that he has received an assignment of the former owner.
– Mark Bishop has asked me to find a buyer for his shares, “said Thomas Eye.
Who’s fooling who?
Carnegie-chief Anders Onarheim has also heard that someone is trying to dump the Koenigsegg shares – while Carnegie tries to get the company $ 100 million in fresh money.
– We have heard the same thing, but it does not relate to us. We have looked at the Saab case and find it exciting, and so we try to see if we can help it.
– It’s not so easy to sell shares if someone else tries to sell to a much lower price at the same time?
– That may be so, but here there is a question of what they actually have to sell. We have noticed that there is some things going on, but we do not care about it, “said Onarheim.
Who’s fooling who? Who owns the shares that Mark Bishop and Thomas Øye travels around the world to sell? Who is behind the backs of whom, who fronts what and who meets himself in the door?
Drops the funding
Koenigsegg management has now informed the Swedish government about the wild games around Koenigsegg shares. Bard Eker said that they also have stopped the planned Carnegie funding.
– This is an open wound, we must treat. We must eventually address the issue of additional funding later. We have also been contacted by someone who is very serious. So it’s not just grief, “says Eker.
In the middle of next week can Mark Bishop’s initial vision to save Saab be reality. Or in the worst case, both Koenigsegg Group and the Saab be history.
Koenigsegg Group has decided to fight for ownership of Saab just five days.
– If not everything is in place by Wednesday 30 September, we are out. Then we withdraw, “says Eker.