Third parties do not arrange Saab’s future

First we had the respected French marketing guy who is possibly still waiting by the phone for GM to call him about running Saab.
Now we have a Swedish-Italian entrepreneur bringing Sergio Marchionne to see a factory that the (another made up word) Swedalian doesn’t control and that Marchionne doesn’t need.
The story first appeared at Realtid.se.
In short, a guy named Salvatore Grimaldi is organising some sort of conference for Italian industry in Sweden. He’s invited FIAT’s head honcho, Sergio Marchionne, along to speak and whilst he’s there, he’s proposed taking Marchionne on a tour of Saab to see if Marchionne wants to use some of the factory’s ‘renowned flexibility’ to produce some Lancias or some such thing.
Ahem……
Has anyone told Saab about this tour, or does Grimaldi just plan to knock at the gate with Marchionne and ask for a visitor’s pass?
So.
Two reasons why I think this another story crafted to get someone’s services mentioned in the press. Actually, three.
First – this guy’s got nothing to do with Saab. He’s not out to help Saab. He’s out to pick on Saab’s bones should they be closed down. That’s how I see it.
Second. What the heck does Marchionne need another factory for? Isn’t he a little busy with his new US capacity? 50,000 units made in Sweden? For what?
And third. Getting your name associated with a plan for Saab right now means you get press. Thrown in a Wallenberg and you get even more.
People outside GM/Saab do not arrange the future of Saab. It’s quite simple. This guy’s thoughts might make for a decent Plan B if Saab is closed by GM. Manufacturing for someone else would keep the people there employed for a while longer.
But it seems a bit presumptuous to me that an outsider can assume it’s OK to make arrangements for a factory he has nothing to do with. I’m sure if Marchionne wants something to do with Saab that he’d not need the services of an intermediary to get a look around.

Friday Snippets – bad Fiat. BAD!

Fredrick Reinfeldt doesn’t care about saving the ship, only the people on it.
I care about those people having an identity, and about them being saved.
Fredrick Reinfeldt’s government would prefer to see Fiat take over Saab. I’d rather not see that happen, and here’s one very good reason why.
Fiat may be planning on bringing Dodge vehicles to Europe…..branded as Alfa Romeos. As a former Alfa owner and a remaining lover of the Alfa heritage, I can barely think of anything more unpalatable.
It’s looking more and more like GM in a fancy suit. No thanks.
——
There are more spyshots of the Saab 9-5 out testing this week.
In Colorado:
saab-9-5Colorado.jpg
And somewhere else (Dutch website)
Saab9-5Belg.jpg
It’s looking good, still.
Can’t come quick enough.
Thanks to various parties for links!
——
The weekend cometh.
I believe it might be a holiday weekend for you US Saabers, correct?
Anyone got any particular plans of interest? I’m going to get my hands a little dirty playing with the MX5. New interior bits have arrived so I’m going to bling it up a little.
I know it’s low on their priority list, but an MX5-like Sonett would be such a thrill. Simple, tossable and fun.

Government playing favourites with Saab/Fiat

A report in today’s Dagens Industri will give you a pretty clear indication of who the Swedish government’s favourite is for a takeover of Saab.
You may remember Maud Olofsson’s almost palatable disappointment when Fiat pulled out of the bidding for Opel. She’ll be smiling again now as Fiat are apparently back in the game for Opel (kinda) and included in that is Sergio Marchionne’s plans to include Saab.
From Dagens:

Fiat has come back as one of the candidates to take over Saab, the details of the seller to General Motors turned to the question of who should take over Opel, writes Dagens Industri.
According to Dagens Industri flourishes new information that GM is looking for a better deal to sell Opel than the current candidate, the subcontractor Magna offers.
“I am not surprised. That’s exactly what we have seen with GM for a long time. It signed preliminary deals, but after a time GM can open up to sweeten and enhance the bids for their own part. It is no surprise, but it does not contribute to any clarity, “says Jöran Hägglund, State Secretary at the Industry Ministry, to DI.
Secretary of State describes Fiat plans for Saab as “exciting” and suggests that Fiat probably has more resources to help Saab, who need to borrow money quickly to be able to produce cars.
“Fiat is a larger group who managed to turn a negative into a positive development and have the ability to fend off the up and downs. In light of the need for capital, it may perhaps feel better to have it in the back, unless a smaller player has enough capital with them, “he says to Dagens Industri.

Any references to Koenigsegg in the last few weeks have been quite negative in tone. The contrast here is blinding.
I’m not against Fiat owning Saab. The continued tie-in with Opel would annoy me more, personally. I’m quite sure that Saab would have more identity under Fiat than what they did under GM.
What annoys me, though, is the government’s lack of consistency in their commentary. Koenigsegg may be small but Fiat have huge problems of their own in terms of debt and their work with Chrysler in the US.
I guess if they look big it’s a less risky deal in the eyes of the public. And it’s the public who votes at election time.

I’ve got to go hunting, but I haven’t read anything recently that shows Fiat are active again in their pursuit of Opel. The last I read they had left their offer on the table, saying it was the best they could make.
GM were pursuing improved offers and BAIC and RHJ are going to submit improved offers, but as I understood it, Fiat would let theirs stand saying it was the best they could do.
The Opel deal is under significant pressure, not only from GM courting different people, but also from the EU:

The guidelines for state aid to ailing companies through the German “Economy Fund” is very strictly: The state must be of high interest rates for the Opel credit. For the guarantees envisaged by 2014 further fees would be payable. Only 90 percent of a loan should be hedged.
If the Federal Government and the investor do not fulfill these conditions, the control of EU state aid rescue will be effective: Opel is threatened with harsh conditions, the company would have to reduce capacity and close plants.

——
Thanks to MG in comments and Alexandros via email

Opel still open to Fiat – Fiat still interested in Opel

If you’re taking an interest in the mergers and acquisitions world for the first time – like me – then it’s really intriguing how all these things work.
Last week, stories ran around the world saying Magna had bought Opel.
Earlier today, we heard that the German government still considers Opel to be up for grabs if companies want to come in with a higher bid.
Now, we hear that Fiat are still interested in Opel, and they might even have some support from the Italian government behind them.
From Automotive News:

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung quoted sources at Fiat as saying that if the GM-Magna talks were to fail, Fiat would resume negotiations over Opel. German government sources confirmed the information, the Munich-based paper said.
The newspaper also said China’s BAIC, which makes Mercedes-Benz cars in Beijing in a joint venture with Daimler, could also bid again.
Fiat and BAIC were passed over when General Motors and the German government chose Magna International early Saturday as the preferred bidder for its Opel/ Vauxhall unit.
Germany has stressed that other bidders, including Fiat and BAIC still would have a shot if they improved their bids.
“The process is still open to all the bidders,” government spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm told reporters in Berlin on Wednesday.
After being criticized for doing nothing to help Fiat’s bid, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Wednesday his government would be willing to intervene with Germany to support another Fiat bid if the automaker wanted.
A German official told Reuters that representatives from BAIC met members of the government on Tuesday and made clear they would “seriously consider” a more detailed bid if talks with Magna failed.
The German government has an interest in keeping up the pressure on Magna until a deal is closed that fully satisfies Berlin’s demands.

And yes, the BAIC that they mention as building Mercedes Benzes in China is the BAIC that was interested in Saab.
So whilst Saab have said that they’re currently in discussions with two parties, there’s clearly room for previously interested parties to trump those two existing bids. That could be via more money or better conditions being attached to their bids.
Saab want to get this deal done soon. I hope those that are interested have put their best foot forward and that all parties are doing their jobs as best they can for the best outcome.

Magna to take over Opel

This has just come in via news alert from Automotive News.
Thoughts on what Fiat might try to do in response are welcome in comments.
——

FRANKFURT (Reuters) — General Motors and Canadian auto parts group Magna International Inc. have reached an agreement in principle that could rescue ailing German carmaker Opel, sources close to the negotiations said today.
The two sides have been trying to agree on a memorandum of understanding that would serve as the basis for bridge financing of 1.5 billion euros ($2.10 billion) as well as a trustee solution that would protect Opel from creditors in case parent GM files for Chapter 11 in U.S. bankruptcy court.
“A framework agreement has been reached. The goal is to work out as many of the details as possible before the meeting with (Chancellor Angela) Merkel in order to sign a memorandum of understanding today,” one source with knowledge of the talks told Reuters.

The rest of the backstory is here.

It’s Renco vs Fiat for ownership of Saab – maybe

Some time soon, Saab will announce who their new owner is.
In the past on this site, I’ve made very-well-educated guesses as to who’s who in this drama and if the final three aren’t who I’ve proposed, I’m still promising that nudie run outside GT.se’s offices (as long as their writer, Jan-Erik Berggren, promises the same if he’s wrong).
I’m making not-so-well-educated guesses in this post, but I still feel very confident in my predictions.
——
FIAT
If FIAT are still in the game – and Maud Olofsson’s saying they are – then it’s because someone is happy to circumvent the proper process and let them through the back door.
Let me reiterate again – FIAT were not one of the original bidders and are not one of the official final three. But that doesn’t seem to mean that the door is shut to them.
And nor should it be, IMHO.
I was opposed – and still am – to the idea of Saab being brought into a huge conglomerate with Opel still in the fold. They’ve been there with GM and they don’t need to go there again.
But it looks like FIAT are going to miss out on Opel. And that opens a door for Fiat and Saab in my mind. There are a number of people at Saab that I’ve spoken with in the last few weeks – and a number of Swedes outside of Saab – who are in favour of a takeover by Opel FIAT.
The Italians and the Swedes seem to work well together, for starters, and Saab seem to feel that they’ve got something substantial to contribute to Fiat.
Perhaps Fiat leaves a better taste in the political mouths of the Swedes, too, which brings us to….
Renco
It’s been all quiet on the Renco front. But I have a feeling that the PR crew at Saab are working overtime trying to figure out how they’re going to sell Renco to the general public.
I’ll go on the record here and now. Out of the three official bidders that I believe are in the running for Saab – Renco, Koenigsegg and BAIC – I think Renco is the most likely to win the day.
I’ve heard rumours that Ira Rennert may have lost a truckload of cash when Wall St rogue Bernie Madoff went under, but he’s still well connected and said to have a personal wealth of as much as $6 billion.
He’s well connected, should be well funded, and familiar with the suits at GM. What he wants with Saab is unknown, but according to Saab all three bidders have seen Saab’s business plan, have committed to it and have proven they’ve got the funding to carry out what they’ve committed to.
Some have wondered whether Renco are really involved given that the Greens in Sweden reviewed the contenders and gave their thumbs up. Folks – it says more about politicians and marketing than anyone else and no-one should be surprised by a politician making the best of a photo opportunity.
I’ll place my bet on Renco winning the prize. I may not like it, but I think that’s the way things will go.
We’ll see in a few weeks, I guess.
——
The others.
I get the increasing feeling that whilst they’re probably the most cashed up of the lot, the Chinese bidders are out of this race. Whether it’s reluctance on their part after seeing an opportunity for a bigger fish in Opel, or reluctance on the part of GM or the Swedish government, or both, I think they’re out of this race.
Whispers are coming down the lines that Koenigsegg weren’t as well funded as the others, which may be a big obstacle.
You’ve all seen the Saab marketing posters where they mention a 9-4x and a 9-5 and maybe a smaller Saab coming down the line….. I think that the bidders who could see the value in planning for a smaller Saab and made some inclusion of this in their plans for Saab were probably better received than others.
Just my 0.02c
——
Le Figaro are claiming that Fiat are one of “the three.”
GT.se now say that Ripplewood, who were until recently a bidder for Opel via their spinoff company, RHJ, are one of “the three” and the likely winner.
Both incorrect. Nudie runs.

Opel have three bidders, too

Here’s just a quick update on what’s happening on the other side of GM Europe.
The Financial Times state that Opel have three bidders, being Fiat, Magna, and a Belgian car parts holding company, RHJ International.

All three groups are expected to make offers for the stake by Wednesday’s deadline, two people with knowledge of the deal told the Financial Times on Tuesday.
Additional bids from up to three other private equity and sovereign wealth investors were still feasible but not as likely, one of these people said.
RHJ’s chances were boosted when it was endorsed by Klaus Franz, the head of Opel’s powerful works council, in an interview with the FT.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if Fiat and Magna missed out on both of GM Europe’s properties?
It’s all coming to a close, very soon.
Thanks to PT for the link!

FIAT to submit GM Europe bid this week

News sources are just starting to percolate with the story about FIAT reportedly planning a non-cash bid for GM’s European assets.
Not much is known as yet and it’s all from “unnamed sources” etc, but the story does include Saab so it’s worthy of some space here:

Italian Fiat SpA will submit a non-cash bid for the acquisition of German Opel in the portfolio of US General Motors by Wednesday (20 May 2009), Dow Jones reports on 18 May quoting a source close to the situation.
Chief executive Sergio Marchionne is expected to meet with German state representatives these days, continuing his efforts over the past four weeks to close a merger deal between Fiat, US Chrysler and GM Europe.
According to the source, Fiat plans to reduce the production of GM European units Opel and Saab, but will not close down any GM plants in Europe.
The source said that Marchionne has contributed personally to the final details of the plan.
Fiat made no comment on the news.

I’m sure more will come out about the composition of the bid during the week.
——
It’s certainly going to be an interesting two weeks coming up.
Saab are back in court tomorrow. It’ll most likely be a closed hearing and my understanding is that Saab are quite confident they’ll tick all the boxes required to gain their next three month extension.
GM will most likely go into court themselves, possibly before the June 1 deadline, to commence Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.
And there’s this bid by FIAT.
By the end of June, maybe even sooner, the automotive landscape will be almost unrecognisable compared to just six months prior.

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