TTela today brings an interview with Sven-Åke Berglie the ex-head of the suppliers’ organization [FKG] as well as a few quotes made by his successor Fredrik Sidahl in Sweden.
I’m still catching up with a lot of stories after my expedition this week….
Saab are reported to have received interest from other companies in using their Phoenix platform, under development for the new Saab 9-3 replacement.
Victor Muller was speaking in the US earlier this week….
We’re in constant dialogue with a number of players to share the (9-3) technology. There are parties that are interested in talking about possible licensing of the technology
There’s also talk there about BMW and the proposed Saab 92 model, but Victor was being coy once again on that one.
“Clearly we have a preference, but whether it’s BMW, I can’t tell you,” Muller said. “BMW would make a wonderful partner.”
I love Sweden and all the people I’ve met there.
Joran Hagglund, the Swedish government’s point man on the Saab deal earlier this year, has decided to leave the public service.
There’s no word yet on what he’ll do next but he says he’s got offers on the table. I’m sure he won’t be bored.
Mr Hagglund – you frustrated the daylights out of me sometimes, but you came through once you were pushed hard enough. Enjoy your semi-retirement.
Today’s “Nice Price or Crack Pipe” vehicle on Jalopnik comes from the classified pages of Saabnet.
It’s a Carlsson mockup and it’s very, very white.
I can almost handle that and think to myself that it might be “Nice Price”. Then I see the back. Definitely re-worked under the influence of the crack pipe. Sorry, Saab owning friend, but that’s just not on.
Thanks John C!
Hirsch upgrade information for selected Saab 9-5 models has been shown on the Hirsch website. There are no prices yet, and not much information on whether this is just software or if there are hardware upgrades still to come, but it’s as follows:
- TiD – original 160hp/350Nm. Tuned 180hp/400Nm
- 2.0T – original 220hp/350Nm. Tuned: 260hp/400Nm
- 2.8T – original 300hp/400Nm. Tuned 330hp/430Nm
All are listed as “Coming soon”.
I would wet my pants if I got the opportunity to drive that 2.0T configured like that. With increased oomph but the same light weight and agility, It’d be more fun than a sack full of grandpappies.
I have a couple of great purchase stories to share in the coming days. I’ll share a few pics now, and stories later.
First, Greg Abbott’s picked up a new 2010 Saab 9-5 Aero and is one extremely happy camper:
And Marko’s picked up a Saab 9-3 TTiD SportCombi with a story so cool I actually forwarded it on to Victor Muller today. I’ll share it here soon.
Jörgen has been good enough to negotiate a discounted price for SU readers on the purchase of a copy of Joran Hugglund’s book – The SAAB deal from the inside.
Our thanks to the publishers for making this exclusive SU offer.
Freight within Sweden will be 80 SEK, and to the rest of world just 90 SEK.
Just email an order to [email protected] and mention “Special Price Saabs United 180 kr” in your email.
Our man in the Saabs United Historic Rally Team, Jörgen Trued, has spent today reading the two books that have come out this week relating to the sale of Saab Automobile.
His notes are below. Shortly I’ll have some instructions as to how you can get your own copy of the book at a special discounted price.
Thanks to Jörgen for these summaries and thoughts.
As I wrote on SU yesterday I have now read two of the most interesting SAAB books in some time. Both authors have a personal connection to SAAB having owned one or owning one. But there stops the similarities. They cover the same BIG story but from different perspectives.
The Fight for SAAB : Jonas Fröberg
Jonas drives a 900 from 1988. He talks about his sweet memories of a blue 99LE 74 up in northern Sweden as a kid. His book is over 300 pages long and is a great book covering much about Saab history not only the roller coaster of the last 2 years.
That part is very nicely written giving the names we have come to know just by names, much more in detail. Such as that Mark Bishop’s girlfriend is from Trollhättan, information on Scott Mackie, the GM Negotiator and Enrico Digirolamo, the GM Financial Europe officer.
An update on the Castriota interview…..
We spoke for around 30 minutes a few days ago before unforeseen circumstances jumped in the way. We plan to continue what was a very interesting conversation some time in the near future. Stay tuned.
Here’s Joran Hagglund’s book, on the dash of one of the SUHRT Saab 99 Turbos!
In case you haven’t seen it in comments, there’s a fairly good chance that Jörgen from SUHRT has organised for a discounted price for SU readers who want to get a copy (it’s in Swedish, by the way).
I’ll post details on that as they come to hand. Thanks very much to Jörgen for checking it out and the publishers for the offer.
And yes, there’s another book about the Saab sale coming out very soon. This one’s by Jonas Froberg, the motoring editor at SvD.se
He thinks his book is a bit broader than Hagglunds. I guess someone will have to measure them side by side.
Speaking of Hagglund, he’s done a brief interview with E24.se where he talks a little more about the book and what he thinks of Saab’s prospects….
How do you find the new owner behaved?
– I think they have a huge commitment, a great energy and a strong desire to succeed and really show the world that they will manage to drive the Saab as a fairly independent producers.
Good to see them question him about Koenigsegg, too.
Does anyone really need to update Facebook from their car?
Thanks Peter G!
Noted on Twitter for all you Brits…..
Are there any GB Saab fans going too HUY in October? We have a convoy taking place if you want to join in www.southwestsaab.co.uk
Also, has anyone got UK sales numbers? I hear they were up around 140% but I’ve lost my bookmark to the body that publishes them (and Jonathan Nash still isn’t talking to me……well…… actually, he never has.)
Last, but by absolutely no means least……
Congratulations to Toomas Heikkinen, who won the 2010 Finnish Rally Championship driving in Per Eklund’s Saab 9-3!!
And about next year….
The vehicle situation is interesting: thanks to Topi’s excellent performance, quite a few offers and interest have been expressed by several parties. Some new car makes have also been mentioned in the discussions. In this connection, we would certainly like to see Eklund Motorsport as one of the parties involved, since their service this season has been the level of service we would like to see in normal daily working life too – unbelievably dedicated and committed! The Saab, as a make, is not excluded either, says Jarmo Heikkinen, choosing his words as elaborately as a politician.
I have a feeling that it’ll be something different to a Saab and he’ll be competing in something more elaborate than the Finnish Championship, but hopefully Saab will have something for him to drive in a few years from now.
Various news services are coming out with snippets and quotes from Joran Hagglund’s new book about his time involved with the sale of Saab.
This translation is from SvD and was provided by Arild.
Some commentary from my own point of view follows the excerpts.
Hagglund reveals GM’s hidden agenda
Saab Automobile was supposed to be doomed.
General Motors had early on decided to close down Saab but to the public GM gave a different impression.
That there really was a hidden agenda and an internal power struggle is revealed by the government’s car crises man, Secretary of State Jöran Hägglund (C) – who himself had preferred to see Fiat as the new Saab owner.
I’ve just heard from a friend in the Swedish press that Jöran Hägglund, the secretary of the Industry Ministry at the time of the Saab sale, has penned a book about the sale of Saab Automobile.
It’s due for release on September 9 and promises to provide a pretty unique insight into the deal. The title (or a translation of it) is “The Saab deal from the inside”.
Jöran Hägglund’s role in the sale grew as things got closer to a conclusion. He was eventually appointed to handle the government’s role within the deal on a full-time basis after the Koenigsegg deal fell apart.
From that perspective, it’s going to make for an exceptionally interesting read. It’s my concrete belief that Koenigsegg were poorly served by people in the government, who rarely took their bid seriously and only realised the full extent of the danger Swedish Industry was facing when Koenigsegg finally pulled out.
Hägglund’s assessment of his colleague’s conduct during that time will make for some very interesting reading.
Of course, the deal got done in the end and Hägglund played a vital role in that happening. If anyone’s going to have a well-rounded perspective on what really happened during 2009/10, it’ll be him.
I just hope there’s a version translated into English.
There was a really poor article on DI.se over the weekend, which featured in comments but didn’t get any oxygen here on the front page.
DI.se and their sister news service in print really seem to find some joy in sticking the boot into Saab, looking to turn almost anything into a story that doesn’t show them in a negative light.
I’d be surprised if they didn’t have hidden fart-o-meters in certain pairs of executive pants just so they paint even the slightest details in a poor light.
This latest effort features a conversation with Joran Hagglund. It doesn’t always make for easy reading, but you’ve got to see it in the context of the election that’s coming up and the attacks being rained down on the Swedish government by the opposition. We’re now in political mode so everything has to be viewed through that particular prism.
There’s a few people who probably deserve a right of reply to this and they’re welcome to it here, though they might choose bigger media to do so.
My thanks to the semi-anonymous goofball who translated this from the print edition into comments earlier.
State secretary Jöran Hägglund has been hailed as the saviour of Saab.
In a candid DI interview, he reveals his wish for Chinese help in the relaunch of Saab, and is unable to conceal his disappointment at the end result.
He condemns Saab’s reconstruction process, criticizes Koenigsegg’s lies and calls the latest bidding round a joke with unserious players.
Now he demands that Spyker owner Victor Muller accounts for the financiers behind the purchase.
“Pity that it didn’t work out with the Chinese”
Jöran Hägglund, state secretary for Minister of Industry Maud Olofsson, has during the past year been the government’s coordinator of the work with the automotive crisis. The situation turned urgent in February last year, when Saab was put into reconstruction and lawyer Guy Lofalk was set to lead the work of finding a new owner for the company.
“It was a strange process to have some sort of public bidding, and it brought both high and low in for a look. It was like scrambling through the Yellow Pages for automotive companies and inviting them in. And then they still ended up with three. One could wonder why those particular three and no others were chosen. Both Beijing Auto (the BAIC industrial group which was later to buy used Saab tools from GM, editor’s note) and Geely were interested.”
Was it a pity that it didn’t work out with the Chinese?
“Considering that China is the big car market now, and will be for the foreseeable future, it was a pity. It’s no longer the most important to be biggest in the American market, instead it’s about being biggest on the Chinese one. The prerequisite for succeeding there is to be in among the leading, bigger players, and in that context Beijing Auto and Geely are interesting leads.”
And a more interesting lead than Koenigsegg?
“Yes, I think so. Koenigsegg and Spyker have in common that enthusiasts are behind them, and that doesn’t have to be bad, but I think that with the backing that they (BAIC and Geely) have from the Chinese state and Chinese banks, that would be a more long-term foundation.”
How did you react to GM’s declaration of intent to sell Saab to Koenigsegg?
“We were a bit surprised. We met a large number of interested parties, and Koenigsegg was a group that had come together rather quickly. None of the people in Koenigsegg had much experience in the car industry, or in negotiations. After they had bailed out, when we had a follow-up meeting with them, they told us that far into the negotiations, they had missed some important components. So in spite of all the deals, they didn’t have a whole car.”
How were you affected by the question marks about the financing and the role of American Mark Bishop?
“That was negative. We had a big controversy with the Koenigsegg gang along the way. They gave us a false picture of why Mark Bishop bailed out. We figured it out another way, confronted them and explained that if they were to keep talking to us, they should be sincere. That made us lose speed. They didn’t give truthful answers to direct questions. We don’t ask that they should tell the whole truth, but you shouldn’t lie in the face of a negotiating partner.”
Business man with a dubious background
The row concerned that Mark Bishop, a shy business man with a dubious background, was claimed to have left Koenigsegg as an owner and main financier of the Saab bid, but was later, in early fall, found to still be in the game, since he was trying to sell off his Koenigsegg shares.
But Jöran Hägglund stresses that Christian von Koenigsegg wasn’t guilty of the lies, and he doesn’t put the whole blame for the breakdown in the negotiations at the end of November, when Koenigsegg withdrew, on the Ängelholm sports car maker.
“Saab wasn’t a complete company. Saab was basically a cost centre within GM, where costs for research and overhead were dumped. To really find that which was Saab has actually been going on until November, December. So it wasn’t all that easy for Koenigsegg to buy something which wasn’t a finished company.”
What have GM said about the Koenigsegg negotiations now afterwards?
“GM themselves say that they were ‘miles, miles away’ from being completed. There were a great many contracts and details that took time, since Augie Fabela (American financier with a background in Russian telecom company Vimpelcom) who ran the negotiations didn’t have any experience from the automotive business.
After Koenigsegg withdrew, a new process was started with old and new bidders. How do you view that today?
“It was a big joke. We did a background check on one guy who had really been into us. It turned out his company didn’t exist, and he had gone personally bankrupt in October. When we confronted him, he stated that that was true, but that he had forgotten to mention it.”
Were there any of the interested parties that you took to in the December process?
Especially Beijing Auto. What I know is that Beijing Auto are still very interested in a cooperation with Saab, and I think that can turn out very well. We’ve said so to the Saab management and to Spyker.”
How did you regard GM’s decision to wind down Saab?
“I fully respected it, but it became ambiguous when in the same breath, they said that they would look at any bid that came up. I think that from December until now, they crassly started to calculate what a wind-down would cost, adjusted the price to that and wanted to come to a quick conclusion.”
Meticulous vetting of Muller
In the third bidding process for Saab, Spyker were back in, but so too were various consortia such as Luxembourg-based Genii Capital, with Swedish spokesperson Lars Carlström, and a Swedish group led by former vice Prime Minister Jan Nygren. However, that a former political heavyweight, who had also been vice CEO of the Saab defence group, got involved in the process didn’t create any pressure on the Industry Department.
“Not other than that we’ve spent considerable time listening to him and his gang and other interested parties, since we felt that we should at least hear what they had to show for themselves.”
How did Nygren and the other bidders compare to Spyker?
“There’s no comparison. When the bids were to be submitted to GM on January 7, Spyker had a stack of deals and highlighted changes. The Nygren gang had a two-page document, as did Genii and Carlström. Genii’s press release was longer than the bid.”
Was there any serious financing behind it?
Were you alarmed by Muller?
“All the things that turned up, we knew about. We had vetted him meticulously and confronted him. People can have dealings with tax authorities, that happens to Swedish business leaders too, but you have to put it into proportion.”
Spyker have a history of great hopes and weak sales. How did you view that?
“People must be allowed to do business, good or bad. But of course we noted that it would have been better if there had been a big strong industrial player. But there wasn’t one, and then you have to decide on the ones that are available.”
You have handed the question about financiers of the Saab deal on to Victor Muller, but he hasn’t answered. How do you feel about that?
“There could be reasons for that, but I think it’s up to him to disclose them.”
Do you feel that he should give an answer?
“Yes, I do.”
Are you aware of the financiers?
“We have been given an accounting, yes.”
That right there was the most important question of the bunch. The Swedish government were entitled to demand answers, and they received them and approved them. Same with GM.
You don’t need to tell your neighbor what you do for a living, but if you go for a loan, you have to tell your bank manager.
If Victor Muller is in a position where he has to disclose those arrangements, then I’m quite sure he will. If they’re private as the investors wish to stay anonymous, then that’s their business and as long as they’re legally entitled to anonymity, any demands from the press are just posturing. Nothing more.
Back to the article…..
Can you see any reasons why he doesn’t publicly reveal them?
“Not really. Unless there are agreements that mean it’s too soon for various interested parties to come forward. Only he can answer that. He’s the only one who has that picture.”
Are you sure that the Russian Antonov family are out of the picture?
“They are out as part owners.”
Are they out as lenders?
“He’ll have to account for that himself. We can’t do the puzzle through all links backwards, what all the constructions look like, but it has been important to us and to GM that they aren’t in as part owners.”
The Social Democrats have pointed out that the then Prime Minister Göran Persson traveled to Detroit and GM the last time Saab was threatened, and have claimed that Sweden has been represented at too low a level with a state secretary. In connection with Jöran Hägglund’s latest trip to Detroit, critics scoffed that he didn’t get to meet the top GM management. Out of respect for the negotiations, Jöran Hägglund kept quiet and didn’t reveal that he actually did meet GM boss Ed Whitacre.
“I think there has been a great deal of political mudslinging in Sweden. It has also been argued that the Germans sent Angela Merkel, and I can only note that that wasn’t particularly successful. Our conclusion has been that it’s at least as important to have established contacts, a trust and that the opposite party knows what it is you want. We’ve developed that with GM without it having been the Prime Minister who made the calls.”
Have GM asked for higher-level representation from Sweden?
Do you believe in a happy ending for Volvo as well, in the Geely negotiations?
“It’s too soon to tell. Everything can happen in a negotiation. But if they go all the way with Geely, I think it can turn out very well. I’m strengthened in that opinion after having been to China and met representatives of the government.”