Reaction from BIL Sweden on Saab reconstruction

I find it a little odd that many in the Swedish press have found it fashionable to take the government’s side of this discussion and are prepared to throw Saab under the bus. Polls and popular Swedish newspapers seem to tell it that way.
But there’s some good, real analysis coming through as well, which seems to based a bit more on substance rather than the populist arguments being thrown up by a pedantic government there.
We had journalist Magnus Nordberg’s piece in TTELA yesterday, and today there’s some reaction from BIL Sweden, the car industry’s main oversight group there.
ctm’s provided a brief translation for us:

While Saab continues its fight, the government continues to be passive.
BIL Sweden is surprised by the paralysis that the Swedish government continues to demonstrate over the crisis in the automotive industry. The governments in the other car-producing countries in Europe have taken powerful actions to stimulate their domestic markets and to give their industry good conditions for the future. The Swedish government is passive in spite of the intense struggle for survival that is currently underway in Trollhättan.
– Saab has today announced an aggressive plan that has great benefits for Sweden in the form of jobs, valuable export, and increasing the supply from Swedish subcontractors, says Bertil Moldén, CEO of BIL Sweden.
– Work is being done around Europe in order to counter the crisis in the automotive industry. Sweden is the country that is most dependent on their car manufacturing and the government’s inaction is therefore remarkable. Even more remarkable are the negative statements about the domestic vehicle manufacturers’ products that the government representatives have spread on several occasions. These things are unheard of in other countries with automotive industry, says Bertil Moldén.
– Incentive programs to scrap old cars and increase sales of new have been introduced at a rapid rate all over Europe. While counteracting the economic downturn, it also benefits the environment and road safety. In Swedish, in the middle of the crises, the government instead takes away the incentives on green cars and has put the issue of scrap incentives on hold, finish Bertil Moldén.
I’m just wondering…..
If this reorganisation is a court controlled process, and the courts accept Saab’s reorganisation plan when it is finalised in early April, can the government unreasonably withhold the aid that it’s passed into law?
Or could Saab and any effected suppliers sue the government for withholding the guarantees from a company the court sees as viable through the reorganisation process?
Just asking….
As BIL Sweden points out, the government seem to be more concerned with political points than actually doing something to help their automotive industry. Given that they passed aid for the industry into law, can they be held to account for the lack of help if it’s proven that it should be given, and they’ve done virtually nothing?
Thanks ctm!

Government still cold on Saab reconstruction

I guess it shouldn’t be that surprising, right?
Saab have until April 6th to submit their formal plan with the assistance of a consultant and their appointed administrator, but it seems they’ll be fighting an uphill battle.
Swedish Enterprise Minister, Maud Olofsson, indicated that she was still cold on Saab’s plans.
From The Local:

Swedish Industry Minister Maud Olofsson argued that the reconstruction plan presented by GM is “unsustainable” and thereby ruled out the prospect of Saab taking advantage of the rescue package of loan guarantees.
“A sustainable business plan is required which offers the prospect of profit with a reasonable time frame,” Olofsson said on Friday afternoon.

Thankfully, there’s more detailed plans coming.
I just wonder how responsible this really is on the government’s part. They may carry the can for a few years but I really do believe that Saab can be profitable in the near to medium term.
The cost of all those lost jobs and the associated losses in tax revenues are going to ring home for a considerable time if Saab are left to wither.
With a new range and appropriate incentivisation on the government’s part – which the whole industry needs at this time, not just Saab – they can do it.
I wonder if and how her tune will change if Volvo end up in the trouble people are saying they might be in.

Saab reconstruction: the morning after

Time for a quick review of the press reports that day after Saab filed their papers for reconstruction in a courthouse in Vanersborg.
TTELA Part 1
TTELA is the local newspaper in Trollhattan and a great source for local stories. Their first story today is some general coverage of the event with comments from Jan-Ake Jonsson.
The core of the plan is the collection of new vehicles that are in the pipeline. Saab are really counting on the new 9-5 and 9-4x to bring enough interest to the brand to carry them through until the real breadwinner, a new Saab 9-3, can come online.
Jan-Ake cites the new range and the costs/benefits to the Swedish and local economies as the pressing reasons in favour of the plan.
Discussions are continuing despite Maud Olofsson’s speak-to-the-hand stance. Jan-Ake had discussions with Joran Hagglund up until the night before the announcement. He stated that a government stake in Saab was GM’s initial proposal, but this hasn’t been taken any further for some time now. Perhaps Maud doesn’t realise that this is off the table now?
TTELA Part 2
Saab’s new best friend, administrator Guy Lofalk stated that rightsizing the organisation is inevitable, meaning job losses for the locals in Trollhattan.
The cost cutting will be necessary just in terms of getting the cost structure right, but also because of reduced demand in the short term.
There’s one note of major importance in this article:
Saab’s next important deadline is April 6. This is the date by which a plan has to be submitted to the court stating how Saab are going to restructure. This plan will be prepared by Jan-Ake Jonsson, the administrator Guy Lofalk, and consultant Stephen Taylor.
TTELA Part 3
The final report from TTELA is a commentary by Magnus Nordberg, whom I don’t know but who might be familiar to Swedes.
If I’m reading my translation correctly, Mr Nordberg seems to draw a line between the public’s support for the government’s anti-GM stance, and the public’s pro-Saab feelings.
This is a pretty important disctinction that probably hasn’t been discussed so much. The impression that I get is that people do want Saab to survive, but do not want GM to benefit from the process at the taxpayer’s expense.
Mr Nordberg wonders why so much money has been set aside for the automotive industry with very little of it being paid out to anyone. He seems to pretty pro-Saab, indicating a fair level of support for what Saab has to offer at this time in their history.

Saturday Snippets – Reconstruction and Zen edition

I don’t want to tell a guy how to suck eggs, but I hope someone at Saab, probably at SaabUSA, is going to take the bull by the horns here and emphasise that Saab’s latest announcement is a good thing, not a bankruptcy.
I think that the US could probably help its own companies by taking the Chapter 11 proceedings out of their Bankruptcy Code and making them a set of separate corporate reconstruction laws on their own.
Consumer Reports has virtually killed Saab with their reportage of the proceedings. A totally negative article.
Dave Thomas over at Kicking Tires took a much more responsible approach and his article gives a much better description of what’s really going on.
Yes, this is a stressing time and companies don’t do what Saab’s done because they’re healthy. But there’s a right way to cover it and then there’s the way Consumer Reports (and others, I’m sure) have done it.
If you only read one article about Saab today, make sure it’s this one at The Truth About Cars.
It’s Gold.
For those who might have missed the link, I participated in a live blog/chat about Saab at TTAC last night whilst JAJ was doing his press conference.
Tough work at 1am, but it worked out OK.
And my own moment of Zen to add to Eggs’ collection from earlier.
I love my Monte, but lately I’ve been missing my Viggen more and more. It really was the pinnacle of that era.

Saab press release: Reorganisation and Independence

The following is a supplementary press release from Saab, following on from the initial release that announced Saab’s plans for reorganisation under Swedish law.
– “today is the beginning of a new chapter in Saab’s history”
After 20 years of foreign ownership, the future of Saab Automobile is once again in Swedish hands. On Friday, the Vänersborg District Court approved the request for a reorganization and restructuring which Saab’s representative submitted earlier in the morning.
“Today is the beginning of a new chapter in Saab’s history”, says Jan Åke Jonsson, Managing Director of Saab Automobile. “We are now recreating Saab Automobile as an independent unit. The road ahead will not be easy. Many have already suffered considerably as a result of the crisis in the automobile industry and sacrifices will be a part of our future, but after a period of tough decisions we will have laid the foundations for a new beginning.
“Saab has a trademark which is well established both in Sweden and internationally. We have a documented efficient production and we have a strong range of models in development. That is why we have chosen this road. The future will be tough, but the commitment which exists to support the Swedish automobile industry and Saab will help us in the arduous tasks which lie ahead of us.”
The work of piloting the new Saab Automobile into the future will be led by a group of three persons: the lawyer Guy Lofalk, whom the District Court has appointed as Administrator, the Managing Director Jan Åke Jonsson, and the international reorganization expert, Stephen Taylor.
The purpose of the company reorganization is to create a short-term stability that will make it possible to develop a long-term solution for Saab. The Swedish Company Reorganization Act says that an application shall not be approved unless there is reasonable cause to assume that the purpose of the reorganization will be achieved. In today’s decision, the District Court has found that such conditions exist.
“I can already say that I am impressed by the competence within Saab”, says Guy Lofalk, “and with three strong automobile models just around the corner it would be a waste not to try to find a long-term way forward.”

Saab press release: Supplier Statement

The following is a press release from GM. You may have already seen it comments but I wanted it here for the archives as well.
Saab Automobile AB announced today that it has filed for reorganization in Sweden. In response to the concerns received from Saab’s supplier base, General Motors Europe will promptly establish a viable mechanism for the timely payment of suppliers’ claims towards Saab.
“GM is fully committed to maintaining a viable and successful local and global supplier base during the Saab reorganization,” said Bo Andersson, GM group vice president for Global Purchasing and Supply Chain.
GM hopes this gesture will encourage suppliers to support efforts to help Saab reorganize into a fully independent business. During the reorganization, Saab Automobile AB will continue to operate as usual.

Jan-Ake Jonsson video: Saab reconstruction

Following is a video from GM TV featuring Saab Managing Director, Jan-Ake Jonsson, talking about the plan to rebuild Saab.
This one’s in English!
Some people have trouble viewing video here, so I’ve embedded the video after the jump.
If you’re using Internet Explorer, then you’re one of the ones likely to have trouble. Please consider getting Firefox (the site looks much better on Firefox anyway).
Click through for the video, or if you’re on IE then click here to watch it at GM’s site.

Read moreJan-Ake Jonsson video: Saab reconstruction

You make the news – Saab press conference

UPDATEhere’s what I was doing while the press conference was on.

UPDATE II – Apparently the government are going to respond to the Saab press conference with a press conference of their own.
Here’s hoping it’s more positive than the last one. It’s scheduled for 16:30 CET. Please provide coverage as per usual.
It’s 1:50am here and I’m off to bed.

Saab have a press conference scheduled for 14:30 CET
I’m going to try and stay awake, but the press conference will be in Swedish and it may be some time after 14:30 when the translations hit the web.
You guys have such an incredible job of updating one another, I figured it was probably the best way to cover this event.
Comments are open!!
The press conference is expected to cover further details of Saab’s reconstruction plans as outlined in their press release from earlier today.
I imagine that one or more of the Swedish news websites will provide coverage of the conference online.
What an awesome day!
Whilst you’re waiting, the court documents lodged by Saab are located here (p7 for English) and here (all in Swedish – bummer).
Actually, if you want to pre-empt the press conference, they’ll give you all you need.

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