Friday Snippets – hope on the horizon edition

Here are a few stories I didn’t get around to publishing last night before heading off for a decent night’s sleep (it has to happen occasionally).
——
Saab laid off 700 people earlier this year as part of their restructuring, and to match the reduced production levels they’ve had to maintain this year in order to preserve cash.
Weeks ago, they put one of these people back into a job. A small, but symbolic moment for the company.
Yesterday, TTELA reported that Saab were inviting another 40 people back to the factory. These positions were required in order to help with the preparation of the factory for production of the Saab 9-3 convertible and the new Saab 9-5. Saab are also planning to boost production a little prior to Christmas.
I’d expect even more will come back when those new vehicles actually come online early next year. Good news!
——
Secondly, there’s been an article about Christian von Koenigsegg in a German magazine called “Impulse”.
Till72 has been kind enough to translate some snippets for us.

“It is simple,” says his wife (Halldora von Koenigsegg works for the company). “Christian hurts to see the brand on the ground. Saab was once an innovative company. He wants it to be that again. My husband is an inventor, a visionary. My job will be to implement his ideas.”
The Taxi driver…
Many people are enthusiastic in Ängelholm, the acquisition of Saab is anticipated later this year. “For the region, but also for the whole country would be a good thing,” says Björn Englund, a taxi driver. Like him, most of Sweden Saab would like to see again as a Swedish company. “It is also about national pride and honor of the traditional Swedish automotive industry.”
K-segg worker:
The staff will or shall not talk about the deal. Nur so viel: Only this: “Our boss is a genius. We believe in him,” says one. De Salvatore raves how much passion Koenigsegg shows. “Christian is a doer,” she says. Without question, the people are standing behind him.

Thanks to Till!

SVT to show Koenigsegg documentary this Sunday

Showing in Sweden on November 1st, at 8pm.
From SVT’s website via Googletrans:
——
koenigsegg360.jpg Christian von Koenigsegg is the man who with his own hands, has built the world’s most extreme sports cars and managed to make a business from a small factory in Ängelholm. But who is this controversial entrepreneur?
The film is based on unique material recorded for 15 years, from when Christian von Koenigsegg was in overalls with the grinder, making his first prototype, up to the present – to the exciting game of Saab.
The issue has been extraordinary since the current is clear that he was frontman for the newly formed Koenigsegg Group is about to buy the car manufacturer Saab.
In the movie about Koenigsegg we learn more about Christian and his path to success, a path which has not always been spikrak (?). His projects have always been marked by a lack of money and an environment which has been more skeptical than enthusiastic. Christian himself says that he has now become a master at overcoming adversity.
– After all crises, that’s when I lean back and enjoy the situation,” he says in the film.
On the way to success, Christian von Koenigsegg himself pushed really hard and also their employees. The film tells about the work of the Koenigsegg as a lifestyle more than a regular job.
Documentary Fonts Karin C Falck and Loui Bernal has complied with Christian von Koenigsegg since 1995. Directed and written by Malcolm Dixelius.
——
If only it was in English……

CAR Magazine interview Christian von Koenigsegg

CAR Magazine have published an interview with CVK today where he talks about all things Saab.
If you’re up to date on all the news here, then I don’t think you’ll find much in this interview that we haven’t previously heard from CVK or the news stories.
Still, it’s good to see all this information in the one place. It’s also good to see CVK out there talking about Saab and the plans they have for it. It inspires more confidence than the silences we’re used to.
Some snippets……
Ambition:

I want to create a viable Swedish car company. Most commentators in the media say that there is little chance, because Saab has never made money. It is a fairly simple analysis. If you based all business decisions on what has happened before and expected that it would be exactly the same in the future, then there would be no way to change anything. Ever. We see it in a slightly different way

Jan-Ake Jonsson:

He is a rock that manages to stand up no matter how strong the wind is blowing. He stands up for Saab’s tradition and creates a good balance in our future management plans

Future Cars:

A specific electric car, a 9-3, the 9-5 and at least one car smaller than the 9-3. Perhaps something like a Mini Cooper with a premium. We could even launch a Sonnet sports car, but we really need everything else fixed before we can indulge ourselves in that sort of opportunity.

——
I’ve been busy tonight working on the Classifieds site so this was a welcome read after a hard night’s code-monkeying.
Click here to read the full article.
Thanks to Greg for the link!

Koenigsegg Group may not get full EIB loans

When Bard Eker let slip some comments earlier this week, it sounded like there was trouble because of some backroom dealings involving Mark Bishop and a cast of other shady characters.

Eker claimed he was mis-quoted and we covered the topic extensively here at SU, but maybe the urgency of his concerns was more related to this issue of EIB loans.

First reported in DI.se and covered also by Reuters, we learn the following:

Ailing Swedish car firm Saab, being sold by General Motors [GM.UL], may not get the full 4.3 billion Swedish crown ($612 million) loan it has asked for from the European investment Bank (EIB), daily Dagens Industri wrote on Tuesday, quoting an unnamed source.

The loan is key to plans by luxury car maker Koenigsegg to buy Saab, but the EIB is doubtful whether some of the group’s projects to develop environmentally friendly technology are within its remit for lending. The EIB could lend Saab much less than the car maker wants, the paper wrote.

“There are questions about whether a number of development projects fit with the EIB’s rules for lending,” the paper quoted a source with insight into the process saying.

As you know, these EIB funds are crucial to this deal going through. Koenigsegg Group signed a share purchase agreement with General Motors to purchase Saab but one of the conditions attached to that agreement with the successful application for this loan.

What happens to the deal if the amount is reduced is a question I’m a little fearful of contemplating at this point in time. It’d be difficult for the deal to proceed and with a GM deadline of December 31 hanging over Saab’s head, well, things wouldn’t look good.

——

Even if Koenigsegg get the loan guarantees and the loan that they’re after, it could be some time before the funds come through.

From SvD and translated by ctm:

Since Koenigsegg Group submitted its loan application for 400 million euros, the European Investment Bank, EIB, has worked on evaluating it. In about three weeks time, on October 21, the EIB will make a decision – yes or no. But this applies only at further detailed negotiations. This means that Koenigsegg Group and Saab may have to wait for the money until next year.

– “The Board may, in October, give its approval for a continuation of detailed negotiations on financial contracts, but I can not say how long it takes before any money can be paid out. It can take months,” says Eva Srejber, Vice President at the EIB.

And then there’s the ever-present Joran Hagglund from the Ministry of Industry:

According to Jöran Hägglund, the business plan has been stress tested on several occasions, which means testing it under different economic conditions. But he would not respond to what stress tests have shown so far.

The EIB demands that any loan will contribute to better environmental technologies and road safety. Currently, the EIB looks at the business plan and makes a thorough review. The government believes it is important that Saab can be competitive in a number of markets in order to guarantee the loan.

– “Our starting-point is that we will be finished with our work and make an agreement with Koenigsegg [Group] before the bank makes its decision three weeks from now.”

——

Christian von Koenigsegg remained cautiously positive yesterday, saying that talks remain positive on acquiring the loans and guarantees, and that their plan is still to finalise the deal by the end of October.

When it’s reporters talking amongst themselves and theorising, I don’t mind taking them on and trying to maintain some perspective and positivity. But the amount of smoke emanating from Sweden right now would tend to indicate that they are treading a very fine line.

Christian von Koenigsegg speaks: Eker, the Saab deal and BAIC

It’s good to see Christian von Koenigsegg in the media today, especially given the recent articles out of Norway that cast some doubts over the whole deal.

CvK has done a brief interview with Sweden’s SvD news service, which has been translated for our benefit by ctm.

In the interview, he talks about the work they’re doing, the speculations, the group and a little about the partnership with Beijing Automotive.

Enjoy…..

——

“Saab a major sacrifice”

Far from a finalized deal. Christian von Koenigsegg, CEO Koenigsegg Group, denies the rumors of trouble in the group of investors that are to take over Saab Automobile from GM. But the protracted affair is starting to affect the CEO.

– “It is a great sacrifice of time, money, resources, and brands,” he told SvD Näringsliv.

It is evident that the past so enthusiastic entrepreneurs behind Koenigsegg Group no longer manages to always keep up the positive attitude. This weekend Bård Eker, the Norwegian businessman and owner of the Koenigsegg Group, went out in the Norwegian media and talked about an ongoing ownership split in the group that could threaten the whole affair. But according to Christian von Koenigsegg, who talked with Bård Eker, he is misquoted in the newspapers.

– “There is absolutely no fight amongst the owners in the Koenigsegg Group.”

Bård Eker said that ‘if not everything is in place by Wednesday, we are out.’ But where he or the newspapers got Wednesday as the end date is something Christian von Koenigsegg do not know.

– “What we’ve noticed with this deal is that it is very media intense and arouses a huge interest. We can not go out and talk about the details on a daily basis. We need to focus on our deal,” he says and believes that it leaves some room for speculations and misunderstandings.

There are still a number of parallel processes running. Among other things, there is the important loan of just over 4 billion SEK from the European Investment Bank, EIB, in about three weeks time. First, however, the National Debt Office must provide a loan guarantee to the EIB.

– “Both the bank and the Debt Office receives constant information from us and Saab on what happens, and we respond to their questions when they request more information.”

Although there are many milestones left, Koenigsegg Group looks at them as formalities. Christian von Koenigsegg stresses that all parties involved have the same goal of bringing the deal together at the end of October or early November.

He, who previously sounded so hopeful and so positive, is a little bit more stressed today but do not think the Koenigsegg Group will pull out of the deal.

– “I would not say. But then we have the situation that the conditions have to be sufficiently interesting for us to make the deal. It is a great sacrifice of time, money, resources, and brands,” he says, but points out that they have come a long way so far and that conditions are ‘reasonable’.

Have the conditions changed lately?

– That I would not say either, but it is a negotiation between different parties and everyone have to agree. It is a process that requires a lot of resources,” he says, adding that they are on the track.

The loan that Saab needs from the EIB is mainly intended for new environmental technologies. Without going into details about what environmental technologies the company will develop, Christian von Koenigsegg says that it is an important part of the business plan that the group has presented and that is now being evaluated by the EIB.

Koenigsegg Group has signed a letter of intent with Beijing Automotive Industry Holdings, BAIC, on having them as a minority owner of the Koenigsegg Group to cover up the missing part of the capital needed. But the size of BAIC’s interest is still unclear.

– “We have not gone out with a precise number. It is important to note that they are minority shareholders. They can not control Koenigsegg Group in any way, but they are a partner with the rest of us,” says Christian von Koenigsegg, who do not want to say if BAIC has covered the 3 billion SEK previously missing according to estimates.

– “The fact that 3 billion SEK is missing does not come from us. We said that we saw a bit missing in the business plan which was around 30 percent and we saw the need for multiple parties to solve it. And the parties were GM, Koenigsegg Group, and the government – but the government declined, and then we found the third partner in the BAIC.”

——

Thanks again to ctm!

Eker: Misquoted. All apparently goes well with Saab and Koenigsegg

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.

Spider

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.

Ex-broker

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.

Half price

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.

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

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