Dear Mr Reinfeldt,
This week has been a disaster for Saab, the Swedish automotive industry and potentially it may prove to have been a disaster for you politically as well.
I should know. When I’m not writing about Saabs, I’m involved 9-to-5 in the risk management arena and right now, what you’re facing in western Sweden is a great big supersized American serving of “not good”. And none of it will be fixed by windfarms or any other green pipe dreams if this thing goes south.
If and when the 5-figure number of people potentially affected by a Saab closure hit the unemployment lines, there’s not a single policy in your armory that’ll help. Philosophy doesn’t put food on the table, Mr Reinfeldt.
But it’s not too late.
I read a story on Bloomberg this morning with some distress:
The Swedish government is not preparing to relax the rules of state rescue loans to provide funding for Saab Automobile AB, a government official said.
Saab, whose future may be decided by owner General Motors Co. next week, has asked the Swedish government to make as much as 5 billion kronor ($717 million) available in emergency loans, and to inform GM of this before a board meeting on Dec. 1. A government delegation will travel to the U.S. for talks with GM before the meeting.
Sweden is unlikely to relax its rules, Hans Pettersson, a deputy director at Sweden’s Enterprise Ministry who will be part of the group visiting GM, said in a telephone interview today.
Saab was one of several brands the U.S. carmaker planned to unload to focus on its restructuring after emerging from bankruptcy. GM may shut Saab after a sale to sports-car maker Koenigsegg Group AB failed. GM could also decide to keep Saab.
“It’s easy to propose things, but unfortunately it’s not so easy to carry them out,” Pettersson said. “We are not preparing right now for a new parliamentary decision. That the parliament would make a decision by Tuesday is not very likely.”
A decision by the Swedish legislature is necessary to relax rules which stipulate that loans must be repaid in six months — a condition Saab and others have criticized as unrealistic.
Personally, I’m hopeful that a deal can be struck where Saab doesn’t need support from your government in order to transfer to a new owner. I hope they get that support from GM, who could relax their self-imposed December 31 deadline a little in the interests of success. But if a strong owner is found and some help is needed, then my question is this – why wouldn’t you do what you can to help make that a reality?
Read more(Another) open letter to Fredrik Reinfeldt and anyone else in the Swedish Government who’ll listen