Saab/Koenigsegg Group in some financial danger?

The following is an article from today’s Dagens Industri, a Swedish economic newspaper.
Naturally I’ve sent and email off to Saab for some comment. This could be quite serious, if accurate.
Thanks to ctm for the translation. I’ll publish any response from Saab as soon as I can (however it may not be until morning). I wish there were more I could tell you.
——
Koenigsegg Group’s takeover of Saab could break down. Carnegie Investment Bank AB has pulled out of the issue, and Mark Bishop continues to be an uncertainty.
The group of owners have decided to give the deal with Saab another five days.
“Unless everything is in place before September 30 then we are out,” said the Norwegian financier and major owner of Koenigsegg Group, Bård Eker, to Dagens Næringsliv.
“We have held on long enough. It costs a lot of money. People criticize me for using a lot of money offshore, but I can promise you that is nothing compared to hiring consultants from around the world,” he continues.
Koenigsegg seems to have problems with funding. According to the newspaper, the Carnegie-led issue that would give the company around 670 million SEK is stopped.
One explanation for the Carnegie pull-out is that the former major owner Mark Bishop tried to sell the yet unrealized value of the 22-percent share he had in Koenigsegg Group. On June 25 he was ousted from the cooperation with Koenigsegg and then his property were transferred equally among Christian von Koenigsegg and Bård Eker.
As payment Mark Bishop obtained an agreement on compensation in case of a deal between Saab and Koenigsegg. That is an agreement he has tried to dump to various stakeholders, which has caused concern on the market.
And he has not hired just anyone to help him. According to Dagens Næringsliv, Mark Bishop, who now works for the Canadian capital fund Omniarch, hired the former Norwegian stock broker Thomas Øye. The Norwegian is convicted of receiving stolen goods and has dubious reputation.
According to Dagens Næringsliv, Thomas Øye found two potential buyers: Isaac Cohen, 26-year-old heir to a real estate empire, and the American lawyer Peter L Brig.
According to what Bård Eker says to the newspaper, The Swedish Government, has been informed of Mark Bishop’s plans.

Bard Eker interview about Saab from Norway

The following interview was published in today’s Aftonposten in Norway.

There’s some interesting quotes from Bard Eker here, most notably the urgency with which they’re still acting.

And yes, he does have a way with words (the cow ref)

My thanks to Arild for sending it through……

——

BATTLE AGAINST TIME

Bård Eker has secured Chinese money for his Saab acquisition. Now the guarantees from the Swedish state remain to be secured. But it is urgent.

It was a clearly happy and relieved Eker, who yesterday called Aftenposten. Koenigsegg Group is a big step closer to finalize the Saab-purchase, after it became known yesterday that the Chinese automaker Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co. (BAIC) has put up the money that was missing.

State guarantee

When the purchase agreement with General Motors (GM) was confirmed in August, two obstacles remained: Koenigsegg Group needed 2.5 billion Norwegian kroner more in equity – as well as state guarantees from the Swedish Riksgälden for a research and development loan from the European Investment Bank for 3.7 billion Norwegian kroner.

Beyond the fact that BAIC now becomes a minority owner in Koenigsegg Group, the details in the agreement are not known. To which extent GM has helped to resolve the equity issue is also unknown. But Eker is very happy with the solution.

– Have you overcome the first challenge now?

-Yes, yes, yes. This is certainly an important step. The next step is to get an appointment with Riksgälden.

– And they are sending positive signals?

-Such processes take a very long time. It does not help if we get a yes when the cow is dead, to put it one way. We are in a terrible hurry, and we see that there is less and less time. In the bureaucracy they are perhaps not used to progress as fast as we are trying to achieve. It is a challenge.

– When do you have to have a solution in place?

– It is impossible to say, everything is changing. This is a floating mechanism, when one is delayed at one point, the schedule for the next change. But we need a solution as soon as possible. We are talking hours and days and not weeks and months.

Minimal in Norway

Aftenposten is aware that Eker also has presented the Saab purchase for Norwegian investors. But he tones down the Norwegian hunt.

– The efforts we have done here is minimal. There are parties who have asked us to give a presentation, and we have done so. But we have not been very active. We have many stakeholders who have been in contact. But we are looking for a combination of industrial and financial partnerships, and for that reason there are not very many options in Norway, unfortunately, the Norwegian entrepreneur says.

The agreement with the Chinese will not only ensure money. Saab cars and development expertise will be a complement to BAIC own products – and will open the door for car sales in the world’s fastest growing market. Even Eker thinks that just that access is the most important part of the agreement with BAIC.

– Will the partnership lead to relocation of production to China?

– That’s not what we’re after. What we want is an increase in production. To be able to do business in the Chinese market, some of the production must be there.

Auto Motor and Sport interview Christian von Koenigsegg

RE-POSTED
I know you US folks had a long weekend last weekend and so some may have missed this summary of a great interview with Christian von Koenigsegg. Here it is again

Auto Motor and Sport magazine in Sweden have conducted an in-depth and somewhat rare interview with the man behind Koenigsegg Automobile, and one of the figureheads of the Koenigsegg Group – Mr Christian von Koenigsegg himself.
The interview is in the latest print version of the magazine and I understand it won’t be available online for a little while. Fortunately, I’m able to bring you some of the highlights from the piece, with thanks to the letters C, V and K and the number 9.
This is me working from an electronic translation. Any errors are mine and suggestions are welcome to fix inaccuracies.
The Koenigsegg-Saab story started with a blaze of hope and glory, but shortly thereafter the transaction was bogged down by media scepticism. This wasn’t helped by the silence of the Koenigsegg Group members, who have hesitated to address any doubts in the press.
With that backdrop, it’s really encouraing to hear from CvK, who radiates a lot of hope for the future for Saab and the developments that might take place under the ownership of the Koenigsegg Group.
There’s a lot more in the print edition and I’m sure the context will be easier to understand, too, so go out and grab yours now.

——
Genesis
The whole idea of acquiring Saab started with Mark Bishop, who has family connections to Trollhattan. He started the process and then got in touch with Koenigsegg about participating. Bishop later left the group for personal reasons.
Ambition
Koenigsegg Group want to build a successful Swedish car company out of Saab. He believes that just because Saab have not succeeded 100% in the past doesn’t mean that they can’t succeed in the future. The plant is now fully modernised and the cost structures are around 30% lower in Sweden than in Germany.
Augie Fabela
Has a black CCXR. Enough said – SW.
Bard Eker
Nothing is an obstacle for him.
Jan-Ake Jonsson
Stands for tradition and is a good balance in this group.
What will CvK do?
…may be able to help in terms of feedback….using Koenigsegg’s expertise in high-end vehicles to help Saab get cars that are optimised in terms of design, weight and technology

Read moreAuto Motor and Sport interview Christian von Koenigsegg

Eker: on Saab and marzipan

This article actually came out last week but I’m publishing it now for three reasons.

  1. Stig, from Tokyo, has provided an excellent translation, and
  2. I’m kind of fascinated by Eker’s apparent fondness for cake.
  3. Oh, and it’s also got some news-type opinion about the Saab sale process from one of the men right in the middle of the whole deal. I guess that’s important, too.

The article originally appeared in Fredrikstad Blad, a paper from Eker’s home town.
Here’s the translation, with thanks to Stig.
——
Bard Eker: The purchasing process will last until the end of the year.
Bard Eker and the Koenigsegg Group thinks the purchasing process will last until the end of the year, but the Fredrikstad citizen is convinced that it will end with (the Koenigsegg Group) purchasing Saab.
Last Monday it became known that the Koenigsegg Group has signed a binding agreement with General Motors concerning the purchase of Saab.
Among other things, Bard Eker and the Koenigsegg Group are now working on the financing aspects.
– It is a long process, and there are lots of pieces of the puzzle that has to be put in their right location. This was (just) one of the pieces, Eker says to f-b.no.
Cannot have any marzipan cake yet
Eker underlines that he is convinced that this (process) will go it’s full course, but he does not think that the purchase will be fully completed until a bit into next year.
– The process will take its time until the end of the year. We cannot pop the champagne cork or have any marzipan cake yet, but I am fully convinced that this will go well, he said.
He does not think there is any danger in that the process will take a long time.
– This is a complex thing, he says.
He says that the media has twisted a lot of the truth.
– It is very important to keep the lid shut. It does not help the process when completely unbelivable things are written, he says.
A lot of people want to talk to Eker
NTB (Norwegian News Agency) wrote earlier today that the Koenigsegg Group’s agreement with General Motors concerning taking over the shares (stock) of Saab Automobile is another step towards creating an independend Saab, according to car (automobile) analytic Matts Carlsson.
After the news emerged that General Motors today have confirmed that they have signed this agreement, Bard Eker’s telephone have not been quiet for one moment.
– A few hundred people have been trying to get hold of me today, Bard Eker tells.
——
In line with Eker’s thoughts, I’ve started looking around for appropriate marzipan cakes (they take a while to make, you know) and found the following from a Swedish Bakery in Chicago.
It’s even in a Saab(like) color!!
Marzipan
lime-yellow.jpg

CvK and Eker speak about Saab

Norwegian newspaper Aftonposten has published an interview piece featuring Bard Eker and Christian von Koenigsegg.
Arild has been kind enough to provide us with a translation of the article. It’s a great read, giving an insight into what’s at stake fo the Koenigsegg Group, how they might get things done, and what Eker might do with Saab in the future.
My thanks to Arild for this translation – this is a pretty long piece and must have taken quite some effort.
——
KOENIGSEGG BUYS SAAB: 2.5 billion away from Saab-victory
Christian von Koenigsegg doesn’t get the cars in the Saab museum for free. Yesterday he asked the Swedish government for loans for the large purchase.
Christian von Koenigsegg is the man behind one of the world’s coolest sports cars. Now he can succeed with one of the most spectacular takeovers of the credit crunch.
– Personally I am risking a lot. My time, which I otherwise spend one hundred percent on the sports car factory, a large part of my personal wealth and my name, not least. I take a big risk. But we believe we’ll be successful, or rather, I am convinced that we will be successful.
Koenigsegg smiles gently, perhaps a little self-secure, as he walks around in his new kingdom. Lined up around him are the cars in the Saab Museum. Sonetts from the sixties and far more modern 9-3 models competes to shine the most, making the museum visitors wonder if Saab still has a great future ahead – or if the greatness is somewhere in the rearview mirror.
While an entire automobile world is in doubt, Koenigsegg gambles wealth and his noble name on Saab’s future. Since early summer, he has been in intense negotiations. Monday he signed one of the most spectacular acquisitions in Sweden ever. On the team he has Norwegian Bard Eker and the telecom entrepreneur behind Russian VimpelCom, Augie K. Fabela.
They have put more than NOK 600 million on the table. Seller General Motors (GM) provides around 2.5 billion in dowry to get rid of the loss ridden company. Now two tough rounds remain: First, to secure a loan from the European Investment Bank on about 3.7 billion, and the hardest: to obtain an additional 2.5 billion.
On top of this, the friends’ goal is to earn money where GM has only made losses. Do they have the money to give the company a second chance?
– We are convinced we do. General Motors is convinced. And the Swedish government is positive to provide the guarantees needed, says Koenigsegg to Aftenposten.
To obtain the critical 2.5 billion, Koenigsegg is open for additional shareholders, venture capital companies, friends and acquaintances.
-Of course, both Bard and I, and above all Augie, have a lot of acquaintances that can consider getting involved if necessary. I say that nothing is impossible. We are in dialogue with all potential financiers to get these last 30 percent. We predict that this will be a loan, but it can also be risk capital within the Koenigsegg Group.
– The government has decided that the Swedish people are not going to pay?
– We agree with them. If we get the guarantee, it will be fully secured with the assets from Saab. They take very little risk and it will be a guarantee we pay for. There is no talk of any contribution in any form or that the Swedish people must pay.
-But how do you plan to make money?
-Often one hears that the automotive industry is so over-established that there is no use to try. This shows low self-confidence. Because there is more offer than demand, one should therefore not be able to sell cars. It’s about making cars people want, and then there are some others who will suffer from too few customers, not Saab.
Pinchcliffe
The car builder Koenigsegg was born at the age of five, when he saw the movie Pinchcliffe Grand Prix in the cinema. Now he wants to build thousands each years.
– We shall not build millions of cars. We will start by reaching a positive result with 100,000 cars, and then climb up from there. What will happen is that some large and some small producers will disappear – and suddenly the market is no longer over-established. The pressure from Asia will start, and then it’s business as usual.
Willpower
To succeed, he relies on Eker’s capabilities to design and produce efficiently. The Swede is deeply impressed by the Norwegian he met only four or five years ago.
– He shows a great entrepreneurship. You have to think pretty big to make such a trade. Neither he or I are slow movers.
Eker says no to retro-cars
Bard Eker promises more environmental friendly cars, and hopes that his background gets more Norwegians to buy Saab.
The industrial designer is careful to define his role in Saab’s new ownership, and says he is humble and wants to see where he best fits in. But what he already can determine, is that the Saabs of the future will have a lot of new technology.
– The timing is perfect for it now. The financial crisis means that the world demands more environmental friendly technology, and we will exploit, he said.
When it comes to the design of the new Saab, he says that they will create new products and not make retro models.
– How long will it take before the first Saab with the new design will be launched?
– It’s a bit early to say for certain, but it often takes two to three years to create a completely new car.
Eker says that they have no plans to let any employees go, but neither does he dare to promise that all employees will keep their jobs.
-But we dream about expansion and further development, not reduction and downsizing.
He will keep his own design company, even though he is unsure what to do with it further.
– Now I look at Saab as a project, and so then time will tell, says Eker.

Autobild post 2010 Saab 9-5 CGIs

I have no idea if these are genuine CGIs or not, but I’m guessing they aren’t.
There’s the lack of vent around the bottom of the front quarter panel behind the wheel and the front airvents are all a little different to the official CGI’s we’ve seen.
Still, it’s always fun to look.
This image is from Autobild in Germany, and if you click that link you’ll get to a rear-end shot they’re hosting as well.
2010Saab9-5CGI-1.jpg
Thanks to Andrey for the heads-up about the shots!
——
Latest intel from Djup Strupe includes some very complimentary remarks about the interior of this car, as well as news of Bard Eker sightings around Saab design and a prolonged tour of the Saab Museum.

Koenigsegg visit Saab

No wonder they’ve got no time for interviews….
TTELA report that Christian Von Koenigsegg and Bard Eker are/were on site at Saab in Trollhattan today.
3005410671.jpg
They’re theorising that one of the other guys in black suits (CvK is the one who’s not so hirsute) is Augie Fabela, the Chairman of the Koenigsegg Group board. I’m not so sure about that. They look a little young to me.
TTELA were not able to get an interview. It seems the line is that GM and K-Segg are still in negotiations and whilst that’s the case, they won’t be talking.
A pity, really. It’s a good opportunity to get a groundswell of belief going. As I’ve said here before: the media is a beast, and the beast will be fed.

Koenigsegg-Saab in the news today…..

There was mention of three out of four prominent members of the Koenigsegg group in the news today:
——
Bard Eker was making all the right noises in an article in The Guardian newspaper.

“Saab has to refine their quality level, their soul and spirit and we believe that this is something we can help with,” Eker told Reuters in a telephone interview. “The most interesting thing is that GM thinks the same,” added Eker…..
…..”So far we haven’t seen much in terms of environmentally friendly cars from the big (players),” he said. “That is something the smaller companies can more easily attend to because it is much quicker to turn around a smaller company.”
Asked if a “greener” Saab could be in the works, Eker said: “Obviously we have some ideas but it’s too early to talk about them … but environmental thinking is a very important thing in our view.”

It looks like maybe Kroum’s dream of a 500hp supercharged Koenigsaab 9-5 might have to wait a little.
I hope not, but maybe….
This is a great bit:

“They have a good management team and obviously that is something we will not interfere with,” he said.
Eker said the car industry faced “much more pain ahead” but that the opportunity to buy Saab was simply too good to pass up.
“The auto industry survivors will be much more dependent on bringing something new to the table in terms of technology and environmental thinking (after the crisis ends),” he said.
“Rising to such opportunities is one of our strengths.”

The rentention of Saab’s management team – who have kept Saab alive despite every GM attempt to make it irrelevant and homogenised – is a key to Saab’s ongoing growth. These people know what they’re dealing with.
——
Confirmation from a local San Diego newspaper that the Mark Bishop who holds 22% of The Koenigsegg Group is the Mark Bishop that we were speculating on a few days ago – the one I’ve dubbed “Flipper”.

A Rancho Santa Fe resident with a three-decade history of selling mortgage debt was identified yesterday as one of the new prospective owners of Saab Automobile.
In the deal announced yesterday, Mark Bishop, managing director of Liquiddium Capital Partners in Westlake Village, would own 22.2 percent of Saab, with the remainder held by Sweden’s tiny Koenigsegg Automotive and two other firms.
Bishop, 53, was traveling in Europe yesterday and could not be reached for comment.
Bishop has no known background in automotive companies. At Liquiddium, he’s in charge of finding funding and institutional investment for the firm’s real estate holdings.
Liquiddium’s strategy is to buy foreclosed-upon or underperforming real estate properties – including apartment complexes, retail stores and storage units – and then hold them for four to six years before reselling them.

Maybe I’m being too hard on Flipper? Maybe it’s the innate human desire to find someone to blame for things that go wrong?
I find his business (which has been more sub-prime oriented than is written here) and the outcome from it quite unpalatable but there’s nothing illegal about it. The fact that he got out of it before everything melted down shows some good timing.
I’ll try and mellow up a little.
——
And the name behind this whole Koenigsegg thing, Mr CvK himself, was also in the news.

Christian von Koenigsegg, founder of the sportscar maker that plans to buy Saab Automobile, said on Wednesday that Saab’s cash flow goals were “fairly reasonable” but hinged on economic conditions…..
…..”We are contemplating different scenarios according to what the market looks like and how that affects the business plan,” Christian von Koenigsegg told Reuters in an interview. Asked whether the new company could reach a positive cash flow as expected by Saab after 2010, he said: “That sounds fairly reasonable, but it all depends on the market conditions and if there is a turnaround in the economy.”
Koenigsegg said the business plan was undergoing stress tests and that he was cautious about the outlook for 2009 due to the downturn in the global economy.
“Our ambition is to turn the company around and keep it for the long term,” he said. “We are entrepreneurs. We are not venture capitalists.”

Again, he’s making all the right noises.
There are a lot of questions going around, especially in the Swedish media, about how this tiny company can afford to operate one that is thousands of times larger in terms of scale.
The PR gurus are very aware of this, which is why “financially strong” is being mentioned whenever you hear a Saab-connected person speak at the moment.

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