Fritz Henderson didn’t want to kill Saab?

Here’s an interesting correction from the Wall Street Journal:

Former General Motors Co. Chief Executive Frederick “Fritz” Henderson last week suggested that the company’s board wait 30 days before making a final decision on Saab’s fate. A Dec. 2 front-page article on Mr. Henderson’s resignation incorrectly said he went into a board meeting ready to let Saab die and that directors took a different route.

It’s been a commonly held assumption that this was the case – that Fritz Henderson was prepared to let Saab die back on December 1. People have assumed that the GM board disagreed and this was yet another clash between Henderson and his new boss, and added to some dissatisfaction over the failed Opel sale and other things, the board asked for his resignation.
This correction from the WSJ throws a different light on things. It seems all parties were in agreement on keeping Saab alive until December 31.
I don’t think it really changes anything, but it’s good to be clear on who said what.

Fritz Henderson quits duing my commute!

You close the computer thinking all is OK, jump in the shower, jump in the car and whilst you’re on the bridge to work, the CEO of General Motors quits his job!!!!
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At its monthly meeting in Detroit today, the General Motors Board of Directors accepted the resignation of Fritz Henderson as Director, President and CEO of the company.
Fritz has done a remarkable job in leading the company through an unprecedented period of challenge and change. While momentum has been building over the past several months, all involved agree that changes needed to be made. To this end, I have taken over the role of Chairman and CEO while an international search for a new president and CEO begins immediately. With these new duties, I will begin working in the Renaissance Center headquarters on a daily basis. The leadership team – many who are with me today – are united and committed to the task at hand.
I want to assure all of our employees, dealers, suppliers, union partners and most of all, our customers, that GM’s daily business operations will continue as normal. I remain more convinced than ever that our company is on the right path and that we will continue to be a leader in offering the worldwide buying public the highest quality, highest value cars and trucks. We now need to accelerate our progress toward that goal, which will also mean a return to profitability and repaying the American and Canadian tax payers as soon as possible.
In closing, I want to once again thank Fritz Henderson for his years of leadership and service to General Motors; we’re grateful for his many contributions. I look forward to working with the entire GM team as we now begin the next chapter of this great company.
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I wonder if that was before or after the Saab negotiations?????
What a day. And it’s only 9am!!!

Fritz Henderson – still rolling in a Saab (sometimes, or his wife is…)

There was some scuttlebut a little while ago that maybe Fritz Henderson was reluctant to sell Saab because he knew how good the upcoming range of cars was going to be.
Whether true or not, Fritz is very familiar with Saab being an ex-GM Europe guy, and is reputed to have a soft sport for GM’s Swedish brand.
So when he was asked during a Fastlane chat what’s currently in his garage, it shouldn’t have been a big surprise to see one of Sweden’s finest….

Finally, when asked what cars are currently in Henderson’s garage, the General’s general said, “Camaro, 2005 Corvette, Saab 9-3 Aero Convertible.

I think it was Bob Lutz who said “We love Saab at GM. Our wives love driving them” so maybe Fritz isn’t driving the Saab himself.
But I’d like to think the other two cars are there because they’re expected to be there and that when no-one’s looking, Fritz heads for the ragtop.
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Thanks to LotusEnthusiast
And sorry things are slow. I’m making a movie 🙂

GM Bankruptcy snippets

Some interesting tidbits from around the internets today…..
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Automotive News clear some air on the bankruptcy process and Saab:

General Motors’ U.S. bankruptcy filing will not obstruct plans to sell the company’s subsidiaries in Europe — a process that is advancing while plenty of issues remain unresolved…..
…..None of GM’s operations outside the United States are included in the U.S. court filings. The company confirmed that all business operations are continuing without interruption in its regions in Europe; Latin America, Africa and the Middle East; and the Asia-Pacific…..

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You can watch a reply of GM chief Fritz Henderson’s presentation at the GMTV feedroom. This includes the Q&A session where he confirms that Ripplewood and Fiat are not on the bidders list in Trollhattan.
Toward the start of his presentation, he states that a new GM will re-emerge with it’s best brand revitalised, or words to that effect.
How can a guy be so wrong and so right both at the same time?
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Here’s an interesting aside – one of General Motors largest trade creditors with $33million owed is The Renco Group.
——
From Autoblog:

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, General Motors plans to announce a tentative sale of the Hummer brand less than a day after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Although GM won’t release the name of Hummer’s (possible) future owner(s) on Tuesday, the WSJ’s sources say that a deal could be struck by the end of the third quarter and the H2 and H3 will continue to be produced at GM’s plants in Indiana and Louisiana.

I’ve wondered for some time if Renco were also having a crack at Hummer. I guess we’ll see soon.

The 2010 Saab 9-5 is so good that Henderson doesn’t want to let it go.

A story that’s just come to my attention from the Swedish newspaper, Expressen, states that GM’s new CEO, Fritz Henderson, is appearing reluctant to sell Saab, even preferring that they fail in their bankruptcy proceedings.
The reason?
Because the 2010 Saab 9-5 is apparently so good that Henderson wants to keep it!!
Martin B has sent through a translated summary of the original article:
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According to Swedish newspaper Expressen, GM´s Hendersson prefers bankruptcy for Saab instead of selling Saab.
The new Saab 9-5 is too good. Therefore GM´s Fritz Hendersson hesitates to sell Saab.
– Fritz Henderson is very afraid to have the Saab as a competitor in the future,” says a source within General Motors.
-Geely has put a lot of effort in buying Saab, but Fritz prefers a Saab in bankruptcy
The new Saab 9-5 superior
Internal GM tests shows that the new 9-5 wins over the praised Opel Insignia.
– Even the Germans regards the 9-5 to be cooler and better than the Insignia, states Expressen´s source.
The Insignia top model – the Insignia OPC – has just been introduced to the market, and the Saab equivalent will be the 9-5 Aero. These two cars were recently tested at GM test track in Dudenhofen, and the 9-5 was a clear winner, which, according to the source frightened the GM staff.
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Damn right it should frighten the GM staff!!
See what you’ve been missing all these years?
What this is saying, in essence, is that the new Saab 9-5 is so good that Fritz Henderson wants to find a way to keep it in the stable. Selling to a competitor means that they lose it all together.
The article also seems to point to the possibility of pointing Saab towards Fiat, where at least GM can retain a stake in that new entity.
Personally, I think it’s a little conspiritorial. I don’t think GM are that worried about having the 9-5 in someone else’s hands. At Saab’s volumes, it would be the last thing worrying them.
But it is kinda nice to think of Saab leaving a worrying former parent behind.
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There’s also this in the sidebar:
This determines the future of Saab
GM bankruptcy
Much talk to General Motors out of business May 31. Then the Saab’s reorganization is strong to support Saab further until a buyer places a bid for the American manager.
Fritz Henderson
Unless the General Motors remission of debts in the region of SEK 10 billion to Saab’s new owners, there is no way anyone can afford to buy. Henderson can determine whether Saab will go bankrupt.
Fiat bid
There is a bid of Saab from Chinese Geely – but Henderson refuses to sell. Instead, Fiat’s purchase of GM Europe to be a way for Saab to get away. But then expect severe cuts and the likely merger with another brand – such as Opel or Alfa Romeo.

Thanks Martin!

“Fritz Henderson does not like Saab”

Now here’s a different angle. And it’s one I’m not sure I believe.
GT.se, which I think is run our sourced by Expressen, are writing that Geely are trying to press Gm to sell Saab – to them. Apparently whilst they’ve been sniffing around Volvo as well, their interest in the bigger Swede is only superficial, a sort of smoke and mirrors things to hide their interest in Saab, which is the company they really want.
GT.se also say that GM are reluctant to sell, primarily because they don’t want to sell technology to someone who may be a competitor in the future.
But wouldn’t that apply to anyone who took Saab off GM’s hands?
Yes, it would, which is why they go on to say Fritz Henderson does not like Saab and he would prefer the label disappeared, “says a GM source of Expressen.
Now that conflicts with everything I’ve heard previously about Henderson. I’m sure he does want to safeguard GM’s technology, but I’m also sure he wants a working partner for Saab in the future, if only to preserve possible future working relationships and market perception of GM in Europe.

Two more reasons why GM can kiss my hairy behind…..

Reason 1
Supposed Saab-fan and new GM chief, Fritz Henderson, has inferred that Saab are part of a “Bad GM” stable. He didn’t say that directly, but you’ll get what I mean:

Henderson ruled out the idea of spinning off its Buick brand or any other brand not already targeted by the company’s restructuring plan — Saab, Hummer and Saturn.
“It’s part of the good GM,” Henderson said of Buick. “It’s a core brand.”

Henderson was speaking to the Detroit News.
It’s alright, Fritz. It’s a club we can’t wait to get out of anyway.
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Reason 2
Despite being launched on April 1, GM’s Total Confidence plan for prospective buyers was not a joke.
The plan combines GM warranty coverage and Onstar with two new initiatives…..

  • Payment Protection: where your payments will be made for you for up to 9 months if you get laid off within the first 21 months of vehicle ownership. Interestingly, GM employees are not eligible.
  • Vehicle Value Protection: where they’ll fiddle the books and make up some value if you pay half your lease and then want to trade up.

Now, I’ve got no problem if GM want to kid themselves with names like Total Confidence and I’m sure some people will benefit from this.
I DO have a problem with GM excluding Saab cars from this new plan and then proceeding to use an image of a Saab car in its promotion.
GMTCsaab.JPG
It’s a small matter, but a matter of honour nonetheless.
Well done to the guys in comments who pointed this out.
“We’ll provide you with all these benefits, except we won’t if you buy the good looking car in the picture.”
Hypocrisy at it’s best.

Geneva update – Opel looking increasingly screwed

Whilst Saab are in a court protected reconstruction phase, they’re still largely dependent on GM Europe, which is a pity because GM Europe are starting to look shakier than Saab.
Opel have newer models and more exposure, but it seems that like the GM’s US structure, they might be about to collapse under their own weight. Maybe that’s a little too simplistic, actually. It seems they might be about to collapse under their own weight plus the weight of GM’s US operations that they’ve had to carry for such a long time.
GM said a few days ago that they were willing to sell a minority stake in Opel. Now, just a few days later, they’re saying that all options are on the table due to the dire straits Opel are facing right now.

“We have to be prepared to consider all options, nothing is off of the table. We have to be open to legitimate interest whether that is majority, minority or sharing,” Henderson said at the Geneva auto show.
GM Europe, which includes Opel and its UK sister brand Vauxhall, lost $1.6 billion last year and needs 3.3 billion euros ($4.16 billion) in loans from European governments to fund a liquidity gap in the coming months. It cannot count on help from its U.S. parent, General Motors, which lost nearly $31 billion in 2008.
GM Europe President Carl-Peter Forster said: “Our balance sheet is weak and we have no reserves. This crisis is too deep to weather on our own.”

“We have no reserves” said Carl-Peter Forster.
GM Europe made money in 2006, 2007 and the first half of 2008. So why doesn’t it have any reserves?
Watch the last 30 seconds or so of this video to find out:

$100billion into supporting GM’s social obligations, like health care, pensions, etc. Unbelievable.
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Now, i’m not really that fussed with what happens to GM in the US or in Europe. As a human being, I hope their people can keep their jobs but as a car guy, I couldn’t give a rat’s tossbag (thankyou, Malcolm Blight) as none of their products interest me in the slightest.
As a pragmatist, though, I hope they can get the help they need so that Saab have time to do what they need to do.
I won’t pretend to know the potential consequences, but a GM bankruptcy or liquidation must be a perilous situation for Saab.

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