e24 interview: Lars Carlstrom (Genii bid for Saab)

e24 has conducted an interview with the Swede, Lars Carlstrom, who is the co-ordinator of the Genii-Ecclestone bid to purchase Saab Automobile.
They’ve granted me specific permission to post a translated version of the interview here at SU. My slightly edited Googletrans follows.
Here is the real estate man who tries to save Saab
2010-01-08 | Posted 13:34 | Updated 14:08
“Saab will be able to supply over 100 000 cars in a few years, this is by no means impossible,” says a previously unknown real estate entrepreneur, Lars Carlström, who along with Genii, and Ecclestone have made a bid for Saab. Previously, he worked together with Håkan Samuelsson and Jan Nygren to rescue the automaker.
There currently are two groups, but they started as one. In February and March 2009 the consortium was called Catherina and was part of the process. But a major financier jumped left and the consortium was forced to drop out.
Behind Catherina stood among other Hakan Samuelsson, former director of truck manufacturer MAN, Jan Nygren, a former vice president for war materials manufacturer, Saab, and real estate entrepreneur Lars Carlström.

Read moree24 interview: Lars Carlstrom (Genii bid for Saab)

Memo to General Motors – SELL SAAB

The deadline has passed and General Motors have now received what we believe to be at least 5 bids from prospective purchasers of Saab Automobile.
Our message to you, GM, is a simple one – SELL SAAB.
Representatives from GM have commented on a number of concerns regarding the Saab sale in recent days and I’d like to address those concerns first.
The money
Ed Whitacre doesn’t know much about cars (his own admission) but he does know about business and by his estimation, no-one had come forth with enough money to buy Saab.
Well, there’s as many as five bidders for the company that we’ve heard of today and with one of them being Genii/Ecclestone, I find it very hard to believe that the bidders’ ceiling is lower than GM’s expected price.
Spyker’s Victor Muller has gone to great lengths to express his intention to provide an offer that GM will find very hard to refuse. The financial element must be a major factor in Spyker’s bid as well.
In short, and acknowledging that we don’t really know the amounts proposed to change hands in terms of the leading bidders, money should not be a problem here.
The expertise
There were comments in a news article today that GM were concerned Spyker might not have sufficient experience in running a full-scale carmaker.
Many have noted the irony of that comment given GM’s recent bankruptcy and acknowledged failure to grow Saab as a marque in the last 20 years. But that’s another thing all together.
The expertise argument is really quite thin.

Read moreMemo to General Motors – SELL SAAB

Bids for Saab are in – time for a “Who’s who”

UPDATED – to add in Hakan Samuelsson and Jan Nygren
Ok, so the bids are in and we have four confirmed here at SU central. There may be more, but these are the ones we know of.
So what’s with each of them and are there any suprises?
Spyker have worked tirelessly since their interest became know early in December. This is their third bid at Saab and I know for a fact that they worked literally up until the last minutes before the deadline to make sure that every “i” was dotted and every “t” crossed.
There’s not much we don’t already know about Spyker now. We know that they plan to follow Koenigsegg’s business plan, and possibly extend it. We know that they plan to retain the Saab dealer network and possibly use some of it to increase Spyker’s market presence as well. We know that they plan to share some technologies in a way that benefit both brands.
Victor Muller’s dedication to this task has been very encouraging for Saab fans and his speech at the Automotive News Global Congress in Detroit next week should be very interesting to hear (esp if GM knock back all Saab bids and close Saab down).
Merbanco’s interet in Saab has also been incredibly encouraging. They were one of the initial parties interested in Saab, so they’ve been at this for the larger part of 2009. They were one of the finalist bidders in Zurich when Koenigsegg won the day.
Their tenacity is outstanding and they should be well regarded by Saab fans for keeping the interest in the brand alive.
Merbanco’s CEO, Christopher Johnston was recently on record here saying that their bid (or anyone’s) would be difficult without guaranteed support from the Swedish Government with respect to the EIB loan. Merbanco’s bid includes a commitment to carry Saab’s cost whilst the EIB loan is finalised, but those Swedish guarantees would be needed.
This is a sticking point that may make it hard for Merbanco to get over the line.
Genii – Bernie Ecclestone
A last minute bidder or a player all along? Well, it’s a little bit of both.
The Swedish co-ordinator of this bid is a man names Lars Carlström. Those who have been here for some time know that I’ve previously referred to a Swedish consortium that I named “Sason”. Carlström was the co-ordinator of that group.
Sason were to bid jointly with Merbanco, but circumstances changed with some of the Sason members leaving the group. Carlström must be a very resourceful man, however, as his attraction of Genii Capital and Bernie Ecclestone makes this group a powerful player.
It is unknown how big a part Bernie Ecclestone is playing in this group. Is it a jointventure with them as equal partners or does Bernie hold 5% of this effort so they can add his name to the list?
Carlström, through his “Sason” group, has been a potential bidder for Saab right since the beginning of this process, so logic would dictate that he should know the background and technical information. Genii and Ecclestone would be relying on his knowledge, however, as there have been no prior reports of their interest in Saab.
Do they have the money? Most certainly.
Do they have the industrial experience for a car manufacturer? We’ll see what GM thinks.
Oh, and I called the Swedish group “Sason” because if successful, the group name would have been “Catherina”. Saab historians will get the connection.
AWMS Acquisitions Inc.is based in Florida and is led by a man named Al Weintraub.
I know nothing of this operation or of Mr Weintraub in particular, so I can’t give any background or make any comment.
My sources in various places indicate to me that this bid is not one that will be looked at favourably.
Samuelsson – Nygren
I have received no confirmation about this bid personally, but TTELA are reporting that former MAN (truckmaker) chief executive, Hakan Samuelsson is leading a bid along with former Swedish politician and former Chief exec of Saab AB, Jan Nygren.
I can confirm that these gentlemen, to my knowledge, were part of the second iteration of the “Catherina” group (which I’ve referred to here as “Sason” for some weeks now).
TTELA state that their business case for Saab includes an estimated production of 45,000 to 50,000 vehicles per year.
IMHO that seems extraordinarily low, but something may be lost in translation.

Genii team up with Bernie Ecclestone to bid for Saab Automobile

The following press release was sent to me by Lars Carlstrom, the Swedish representative for the Genii Capital bid for Saab.
Luxembourg, January 7, 2010
Genii Capital announced today that its interest in making an offer for the acquisition of a majority stake in Saab SAS in a partnership with Mr. Bernard Ecclestone.
Genii Capital – which has been brought into the bidding process at a late stage by advisors close to the deal – has decided that given an adequate and short timeframe for finalizing its offer, it will aggressively work towards a successful closing of the transaction with all the relevant stakeholders of the company.
The investment group which has diverse investments and a strong knowledge of the automotive industry believes that it can add value to the car manufacturer by working on synergies with some of its portfolio companies in the areas of energy efficient engines, OEM components and on-board IT and media technologies – including pay per listen/pay per use systems.
Genii Capital believes that the automotive industry will see – as expected – strong developments in energy efficiency, safety systems but also in the area of on board entertainment systems including technologies that enable use on demand systems as well as innovative communications platforms such as VOIP and GPS location based services. All of these areas being at the core of Genii Capital investment focus.
The group believes that SAAB has a tremendous brand value in a number of key automotive markets as well as an innovative image allowing it to be at the forefront of the car companies that will be first to market with some of the above mentioned technologies.
About Genii Capital
Genii Capital is a private investment firm that places common sense and business sense at the heart of the investment decision-making process while targeting solid performance. Genii Capital’s investment philosophy is to create value by investing in ideas, brands and projects that are innovative and often disruptive to their business environment. Active in North America, Europe and Asia, Genii Capital’s core investment target areas include brand management, emerging technologies (including public health, energy and environmental technologies), hospitality, entertainment and the automotive industry, including: Renault F1 Team; MOV’IT – a highly specialized high performance brake systems design and manufacturing company; and MCE-5 – a variable compression ratio engine technology.
For more information, please visit www.genii-capital.com

You make the news – snippets edition

There’s plenty floating around on the news wires right now. The deadline for bids to be submitted is at 5pm Detroit time today (Thursday).
An announcement is not expected straight away. It may come tomorrow, or it may take a few days longer.
If there’s anything big announced overnight, please keep each other updated.
Of course, we know this already, but Spyker are preparing their final bid.
Auto Motor and Sport report that they are working on a bid that GM will not be able to turn down. Their bid will be a ‘sweetened’ version of their December 20 bid, although details have not been made available.
When asked about his group’s bid earlier this evening, Victor Muller from Spyker said the following:

No changes here. We are putting our bid in tonight and are more determined than ever to demonstrate that Saab can indeed be saved. Vic

A lot of press outlets are picking up on the news about Genii submitting a bid for Saab today. Some are reporting that they are working with a Swedish entrepreneur at the face of the bid, which I believe to be accurate.
They quite possibly have the money, but do they have the experience and have they been in the game long enough to really know what’s involved here and put GM at ease?
My favourite Swedish quote provider, Paul Akerlund, has passed comment on Ed Whitacre’s thoughts from yesterday, where Big Ed said he didn’t think that a deal would be done and they’re still waiting for someone to “bring the money”.
Akerlund opined that Whitacre was basically just trying to squeeze out some extra money from bidders, which I think is 100% correct.
Other members of IF Metall have spoken with various stakeholders and believe that a sale of Saab is very possible.
Bo Rothstein from the University of Gotherburg believes the workers should buy out the company.
I’m not sure who’d provide the funding, though.
OK – keep each other informed.
I’m off to saw some logs.

Late breaking news – Genii Capital to bid for Saab

UPDATE: Whilst I have no reason to doubt the veracity of this claim (this Djup Strupe is known to me), I figured I better call to confirm. There’s no-one at Genii’s offices today.
From Djup Strupe, word for word as I received it:
Genii Capital, Luxembourg are interested in acquiring SAAB Automobile and will deliver a bid for the company today.
The group is very well funded and together with its partner have no problem financing the deal.
Genii recently acquired the Renault Formula One Team.

The press release about the Renault Formula 1 acquisition:
Venii.jpg Genii Capital to acquire large stake in Renault F1 Team
Luxembourg-based investment firm Genii Capital to acquire a large stake in Renault F1 Team as part of a new strategic partnership with Renault
Luxembourg, Dec. 16, 2009 – Genii Capital, the Luxembourg investment firm specialized in new technologies, brand management and motorsport, announced today that it is to acquire a large stake in Renault F1 Team Ltd.
“We are delighted to have been selected as Renault’s strategic partner for the Renault F1 Team,” said Eric Lux, CEO of Genii Capital. “Our long-term vision for this challenging venture aims to return Renault to the forefront of Formula 1. Together with Renault, we intend to run the team with the same values as any of our other investments, prioritising ambitious performance targets without neglecting cost efficiency. We strongly believe that on-track performance can be compatible with business performance, and we will use all our entrepreneurial spirit and commercial know-how to achieve this goal.”
Genii Capital will work in close strategic partnership with Renault to give the team the stability and the resources it needs to succeed in the years ahead. This innovative partnership means that the team will continue to race under the Renault name, powered by Renault engines.
The agreement between Genii Capital and Renault concerns the team’s facilities at Enstone, UK which played a major part in winning two consecutive drivers’ and constructors’ world championships in 2005 and 2006. The Enstone site includes state-of -the-art aerodynamic facilities, such as the recent Computational Fluid Dynamics centre, and is home to one of the sport’s leading engineering teams with recent title-winning pedigree.
Genii Capital will also explore opportunities f or synergies bet ween companies in its investment portfolio and the Renault F1 Team. One example is Gravity Sport Management, a career- management company for young drivers that will leverage the experience of the Renault Driver Development programme. Furthermore, Genii Capital hopes to play an active role in the overall strategic development of Formula 1 through its knowledge of, and access to, new technologies.
“This is a period of opportunity for Formula 1, not a period of uncertainty,” commented Gerard Lopez, managing partner at Mangrov e Capital Partners and board member of Genii Capital. “Formula 1 has an extraordinary level of global awareness that can be used to develop new business-to-business opportunities in traditional and developing markets, and there are exciting new revenue streams to be explored.”
About Genii Capital
Genii Capital is a private investment firm that places common sense and business sense at the heart of the investment decision-making process while targeting solid performance. Genii Capital’s investment philosophy is to create value by investing in ideas, brands and projects that are innovative and of ten disruptive to their business environment. Active in North America, Europe and Asia, Genii Capital’s core investment target areas include brand management, emerging technologies (including public health, energy and environmental technologies), hospitality, entertainment and the automotive industry, including: MOV’IT – a highly specialized high-performance brake systems design and manufacturing company; and MCE-5 – a variable compression ratio engine technology.

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