SAAB should have filed for bankruptcy almost a year earlier

Meanwhile, in the “Swedes working in an official capacity won’t lift a finger without trying to make it look like they are part of a bigger conspiracy, thus inflating their own self-worth”-department:

TTELA yesterday brought word that the receivers are about to file their report with the courts saying that SAAB should have filed for bankruptcy much earlier.

The report consists of about 50 pages describing the reasons behind SAAB’s bankruptcy and the chronology of their demise.

“They refer to a report by the CPA company Grant Thornton and agrees with their conclusion that “the time of SAAB’s insolvency points back to the start of 2011 and at the latest the stop of production April 6th 2011″ which is a minimum of eight months prior to the bankruptcy.”

Muller has yet to read the report and won’t comment.

Having followed this debacle for some time now, I find it strange that the Swedes do not ask themselves “how come EIB, who had absolutely nothing to risk, were the ones that pulled the trigger on denying Antonov as an investor?”. That happened after April 6th, and EIB’s approval would have ensured continued production at a point where the company was about to start production of two new models (with an additional one in the pipeline for introduction next year).

Hopefully more details will be made available when the final document gets published tomorrow.

Ready For A New Owner

There has been a lot of people in comments saying that everyone from Saab is gone or that all that was good has moved on. In an article posted on ttela today, we find a different story. The story starts by stating that 60 former key persons at Saab are ready to provide services to a new owner. These people they say know more about the Saab brand and its concrete content than perhaps any other.

Here are the key points to me that are laid out in the ttela article:

We are a 60 or so people who can make off distance significantly shorter when you want to start car production again, said Stig-Göran Larsson, former technical development manager at Saab.

I have been in contact with the administrators and offered our services. With our help, you could shorten the time for a restart with two or three months, says Larsson.

Stig-Göran Larsson has also attached a document in the letter to the administrators, in which he lists as the 60th century, people can contribute. On the personnel side, it is among other things to help with names for recruiting, on the purchasing side contacts with all Saab suppliers, on the marketing side of the contacts with the now destroyed dealer network and, particularly, in the technical evaluation of how and what will need to change the existing Saab models for GM retains its negative stance.

He also touches on the Phoenix platform and what would need to be replaced should GM continue to have a negative view on Saab. Thankfully this seems quite simple.

Yes, the drivetrain will need to be replaced.

There is also mention of other names on the list of 60. I think he has some good company there too.

Among those he mentions, which are linked to network, hear Kjell ac Bergström, former President of Saab / GM Powertrain, Jorgen Burnert, former deputy head of personnel and with them a number of other key individuals who have been involved in Saab’s journey over the past few decades. What exactly they can help with is of course dependent on the business plan for a new owner has.

At the end of this article he says he has confidence in Mahindra and Youngman as they have an arrangement to restart based on the existing Saab technology. I’m not sure how this arrangement works because of the always in the back of our minds GM issues, but this does interest me. In regards to NEVS, he feels less certain of what this group could contribute because he is not sure like the rest of us as to what their business plan is.

I think it’s important for us to not rush to judgement on any of the bidders as of yet because we don’t know the whole story. Like Till said yesterday, it really frustrates me that deadlines are never kept and that someone this far into negotiations can still come back with another offer and have the administrators slow things down again to look at it. Personally I want what’s best for Saab and the people that make it what it is. I won’t make the keep calm statement, but I will say that to those that think there is nothing left or that this is beyond hope, just know that there is still fight left in Saab and a lot of the fighters that have been fighting for years are still there and ready to step in.

 

The Phoenix platform is still available to the future owner of Saab

TTELA today brings news on the phoenix platform and its status. Update: I cleaned up the heading a bit to remove ambiguity. My apologies for any confusion caused!

Rough translation:

The Phoenix platform is ready if someone wants it. Many of the brains behind the platform are today employed at Innovatum – the engineers at Lean Nova. Lean Nova is an expanding business employing former Saab engineers who are also advicing the bankruptcy estate on technology.

The 70 employees have on average 15 years of technology expertise and the company is expanding:

– “How many and at what rate is dependent on what happens after the sale of Stallbacka” said Martin Öman, referring to his former workplace, Saab Automobile AB, where he was development manager for the chassis. Today he is lean Nova’s Chief Operating Officer, COO.

– “The rate of growth will probably slow down a bit during the summer”, think Öman.

– “But on the other hand, we employed 70 in three months and we hope to find ten more within one month.”

Lean Nova’s main strength is the ability to create a complete car. The engineers are sourced from virtually all corners of Saab’s technological development domain. In Saabvägen 1 (“Saab Road 1”) skills available for chassis construction are available in the form of technical consultants from Combitech, also former Saab employees. The division is a strategy developed when “Plan B” became reality.

– “The idea that there would be new engineering company in Trollhättan was a bit of an incentive for employees to remain before Saab’s bankruptcy. Plan B was planned in the late autumn, and funding was needed. Saab AB, the defense group that owns the Combitech, needed the knowhow present in the chassis department for their development of airplanes, and Fourier transform was interested in funding a company that took advantage of the skills associated with vehicle development – Lean Nova. In time, we may see a merger of the two, or Combitech becomes subcontractors to Lean Nova in the assignment of vehicle development.”

Lean Nova in a few months gained some heavy names for customers like Volvo Cars, Scania and Jaguar Land Rover – but has also worked for Saab’s bankruptcy estate:

– “We have been helping out with technology issues and presented the Phoenix platform to potential buyers”, says Öman.

– “The platform is absolutely up to date, and is not idly decaying. But how long it takes to completion depends on exactly what a new owner desires. In two or three years, the first car based on the Phoenix platform can be ready, and for new entrants in the automobile industry, it would be a fantastic catch.”

The number of engineering inquiries has declined as the stakeholders come closer to the final phase of negotiations.

– “We understand that it takes time for a buyer – if unable to reach an agreement with GM to sell the current generation products they really have to start from the ground up and break-even is not in the near future,” says Öman.

– “But in the long run, Phoenix offers a huge potential, and the hope is of course an owners with deep pockets, who can afford to let the development finish.”

“Here are some guys who think they can take a shot at this” — TTELA

TTela brings more news this morning — note how eager other governments are where SweGov completely failed to do anything other than talk:

Is it the Turks the receivers are focused on? The answer is ‘yes’ according to Brightwell Holdings.
“I work closely with Victor Muller, the receivers and others from Saab’s management group” says Brightwell’s Zamier Ahmed – which is even confirmed by Victor Muller.

As earlier reported by TTELA, the Turkish investors Brightwell Holdings want to buy what is left of Saab, and they are confident General Motors would welcome such a deal.

Zamier Ahmed, a board member of the company was yesterday in London. He confirms that the interest in Saab is intact.

“We want to keep Saab in Sweden”.

According to Mr Ahmed and Mr Muller, they have been cooperating closely with Saab’s receivers Anne-Marie Pouteaux and Hans L. Bergqvist and others in the management team of the bankrupted company.

“I believe Brightwell has sufficient funding to cope with this deal” says Victor Muller to TTELA.

Zamier Ahmed notes that Brightwell has been monitoring Saab’s development for more than six months and it is the high quality brand name and technology that is attracting their interest. Brightwell with their strong focus on environmental issues, feels that Saab’s technology fits in well with their policies.

They also have the full support of their own government for buying Saab and have previous experience in the automotive industry, among which is a 2010 acquisition of a European electric car. They are also negotiating with an American yet to be named manufacturer.

Updated: “Saab might get split up” – CLEPA and others interviewed by TTela

Update: A source close to SU says that Youngman are back in the race. The receivers are now back in touch with Youngman.

Several stakeholders are critical of the way the bankruptcy gets handled. TTela reports: “What are the receivers doing? That is the question posed by several stakeholders concerning Saab’s bankruptcy – Youngman’s advances are rejected, the Swedish stakeholders receives no feedback while Semcon could be getting their hands on some of the estate.”.

Fredrik Sidahl, CEO of FKG (An interest group for suppliers in Scandinavia), points out that the receivers were invited to visit Youngman’s facilities in China, but will not be represented today. “Every proposal for a complete solution should be carefully examined”. He notes that the receivers have not been in touch with neither himself nor any of his member companies.

Instead, among others, IF Metall (one of the unions) will meet with Youngman.

Lars Holmqvist, CEO of CLEPA, is also critical: “One can voice different opinion of Youngman, but they are the only ones truly familiar with the case after having spent half a year negotiating with the company. For other interested parties it would take months before a complete solution could be presented. There is no available time for that.”

“Youngman has a plan involving the next generation 9-3, producing a new Lotus in the Saab factory and access the Phoenix technology. They should be considered.”

Read more

Saab’s receivers meet with TTela

News are coming in fast today…

The receivers have been interviewed by TTela.

They are very impressed by the new 9-3, have met with Victor Muller and says there are serious interested parties that want to acquire Saab. At the same time, it is impossible to make any promises. TTela met with Saab’s receivers Hans L Bergqvist and Anne-Marie Pouteaux in Gothenborg.

Read more

Union and reconstruction snippets

Some very quick snippets:

The courts have started processing Saab’s appeal. First they will grant a permission to trial the case. This is expected in a few days.

—-

Meanwhile, various lawyers are commenting on the strength of Saab’s appeal.

TTela reports Lawyers say Saab has a point:

The judgement (in the first court) should happen quickly based on limited amount of information. It is certainly more challenging to judge an entity of this size, but the law makes no distinction between a multi-billion corporation with thousands of employees or a company with a one million turnover with few employees.

— Bengt Jonasson, lawyer at Hammar

—-

While visiting Saab yesterday, Tim and I found ourselves outside the conference room next to the reception area. We did not know it at the time, but a meeting took place between local union representatives and representatives of the centrally located union boards.

TTela today features a story about the kerfuffle that took place. Many of the local members feel the bankruptcy application was rushed, and some of them have pulled their own requests as a result. One of the points raised is that the members wanted all the unions to file together. IF Metall and the engineers still have not filed any papers.

We have hinted in the past that the majority of Saab’s employees’ (as well as the local clubs’ leaders) loyalty rests firmly with Saab. The unions are aware of this, but this time they have perhaps overplayed their hands a bit?

Given that Hovrätten (“the royal court”) has started processing Saab’s appeal now, it looks as if the reconstruction will be granted before the bankruptcy proceedings take place, so hopefully the unions’ actions will not cause a dramatic result.

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