• Sweden edition
 
General Motors slammed in Saab sale exposé

General Motors slammed in Saab sale exposé

Published: 10 Sep 2010 14:23 GMT+02:00
Updated: 10 Sep 2010 14:23 GMT+02:00

Jöran Hägglund, state secretary to enterprise minister Maud Olofsson and the Swedish government's representative at the heart of the deal to sell Saab, has published a book exposing the battle to save the troubled firm.

Hägglund's book - Saab Affären Inifrån (literally: The Saab deal from the inside) points the finger at US giant General Motors and "foolish and opportunist" opposition parties, in a revealing exposé of the complicated negotiations behind the deal to sell the iconic Swedish brand to Dutch minnow Spyker Cars.

The book argues that US owners General Motors had a "hidden agenda" to close the firm down, but kept a different line publicly.

The book, which covers the 18 months leading up to the sale of the firm in February 2010, details the negotiations with General Motors, Koenigsegg Group, Spyker Cars and a raft of other interested parties which fell away as a deadline for the deal and closure of Saab approached.

Hägglund, furthermore reveals that he would rather have seen Italian firm Fiat take over the Trollhättan-based firm, followed by Chinese firms Geely or BAIC, and details an internal battle between forces party to the deal.

"The future of Saab developed into an affair with both the industrial, economic and political overtones," publishers Ekerlids stated in a press release covering the book's release on Thursday, observing that the Saab question at time came to dominate the political debate at the turn of 2010.

Jöran Hägglund writes scathingly of the opposition parties who he says hounded the government, demanding that the firm be nationalised.

"Foolishly, opportunist and irresponsible are the adjectives closest to describing the three parties' actions," Hägglund writes adding, "we quite frankly became very angry at them."

Hägglund details a scenario where GM is alleged to have shown ambivalence to the destiny of Saab, caring only for its own commercial interests.

He argues that when the storm had settled after the withdrawal of Koenigsegg Group, the emergence of Spyker as suitable buyers was "proof that there were various internal agendas in (GM) senior management."

Spyker Cars eventually completed the deal to purchase Saab on February 23rd 2010, with payment completed on July 5th.

While it emerged from the book that Fiat was the Swedish government's favoured buyer, Hägglund describes a positive first meeting with Spyker Cars' flamboyant CEO Victor Muller.

"It was as if a kitchen fan had just passed by," Hägglund said, while confirming that despite the apparent breath of fresh air to the proceedings, Spyker's suitability came into question due to the involvement of Russian banker Vladimir Antonov.

TT/Peter Vinthagen Simpson (news@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

10:00 September 11, 2010 by rufus.t.firefly
I haven't read Hägglund's book, but judging by what he is quoted saying here, no evidence, nor even a cogent argument, is presented in support of his accusation.

How does the "emergence of Spyker" prove anything, particularly the allegation he makes? Maybe it's just a bad article.
19:11 September 12, 2010 by 2394040
I don't know what the truth is in the SAAB deal, although I wouldn't be a bit surprised if GM bought SAAB initially with the ultimate intention of closing it down. I've never bought into the idea that any company would buy another company with the goal of operating it profitably. The goal of big business has always been to ultimately destroy its competition, but after they have extracted every bit of worth that was in it. Altruism in big business?? Ridiculous! I also believe that Ford bought Volvo with the same intentions.
19:20 September 12, 2010 by Scotsaab
@ 2394040

Those of us in the industry have been waiting for Hagglund's book. It hits the nail right on the head. Your thoughts on US automotive big business intentions for acquistion of Euro and Scandivanian cars firms, and Volvo in particular, is perticularly pertinent and very accurate.

And for those who have not read Hagglund's book, I suggest you get a copy. It gets closer to the truth of this whole sorry affair than anything else I have read - and at least ends on the upbeat note that Saab and Spyker deserve.
04:04 September 13, 2010 by John D.
If Saab didn't fail on their own in the first place they would of never let GM buy them in the first place?

Same goes for Volvo.

Same thing happens to US companies by the way. Remember the Daimler Chrysler tie up. And now Fiat Chrysler.

It is part of doing business. When a company fails they tend to be bought by another.

It may or may not be in the suffering companies best interest. Companies are in business for one reason. To make money plain and simple.

Just like Jöran Hägglund is on his book.
08:44 September 13, 2010 by planethero
Agree John D.

Also this book is gonna look pretty funny in three years once the Swedish tax payers €XXXmillion "loan" is exhausted and SAAB is still loss making.

If it was viable, GM would have kept it, its probably not, so they didnt.
23:58 September 13, 2010 by Scotsaab
@ planethero

Don't theorise, don't guess - just read the book. You might learn something. Hagglund makes some very valid points.
16:30 September 20, 2010 by zeulf
Well the truth will out and buyers will either repeat purchase vehicles or Saab will go the way of GM into Govt ownership. If Haggland is just another selfstyled Industry insider "Expert" it will be just the same Avertizing salesjob

Valid points are not good enough in this World. the variable winds of Finance combine with customer tastes and no one seems able to predict. What was the Packard slogan? "Ask the Man that owns one" . Where are they now? I would like to read his book and see what it is that he advises for Saabs future, or does he just reveal mistakes make by others? not an unpopular sport
13:54 September 30, 2010 by marionb
GM has long used this technique to serve its own interests. Kill the competition.

Why were subway tunnels built under Detroit many years ago, but no subway service? GM stood in the way. In the 1920's, GM also began purchasing the streetcar (trolley) companies in Detroit and 80 other US cities, intentionally bankrupting them so they could sell them GM buses, which were not as economical . With over 100 streetcar systems destroyed nationwide by 1950, affordable urban mass transit was essentially dead in the U.S. The antitrust investigators convicted GM only of conspiring to monopolise sales of buses. GM was fined only 5,000 dollars in 1949. Most cities had no other options but to build up the infrastructure for a new car-culture America. GM had, and still has, tremendous influence on politics.

That GM would continue in this way is no surprise; they've had much success.

Don't rely on GM selling Saab as an indication of Saab's worthiness. To my mind, it means the opposite. Saab was more likely seen as a competitor, especially since it has a lot of customer loyalty.
Today's headlines
Florida 'mystery knight' dies in Sweden
Michael Boatwright (R) and Medieval knight re-enactors.

Florida 'mystery knight' dies in Sweden

The "motel mystery" American who baffled US authorities by only speaking Swedish when he woke up from a coma last year has passed away, Swedish media reported on Wednesday. READ () »

Swedes open coffin of 850-year-old king
Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT

Swedes open coffin of 850-year-old king

UPDATED: Scientists pried open the 850-year-old casket of King Erik the Holy on Wednesday, hoping to find out more about the king, his crown, and his eating habits. READ () »

TeliaSonera announces first-quarter profit drop
TeliaSonera CEO Johan Dennelind. File photo: TT

TeliaSonera announces first-quarter profit drop

Stockholm-listed telecom operator TeliaSonera on Wednesday said profits had fallen in the first quarter, but hoped offering customers more data solutions in the future would turn things around. READ () »

'Imperfect EU better than revolting nationalism'
Fredrik Reinfeldt. File photo: TT

'Imperfect EU better than revolting nationalism'

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt on Wednesday urged young voters to head to the European parliamentary polls on May 25th "to cure the European disease of nationalism". READ () »

Ericsson quarterly profit defies sluggish sales
Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg at the first quarter press conference. Photo: TT

Ericsson quarterly profit defies sluggish sales

Swedish telecom giant Ericsson on Wednesday announced a drop in sales but posted a sharp rise in first-quarter profit, which nonetheless fell shy of analyst predictions. READ () »

Fatal Norrköping brawl
Four brothers held as cops fear brawl reprisals
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Four brothers held as cops fear brawl reprisals

Swedish police fear that several people involved in a brawl in eastern Sweden on Monday night may be seeking revenge after two brothers were shot dead. READ () »

Sponsored Article
Beautiful pearls of southeast Sweden
The town of Västervik.

Beautiful pearls of southeast Sweden

Ask a Swede, and they are likely to say that their favourite holiday spot is in the southeast of Sweden. Eastern Småland and Öland offer a smörgåsbord of all the things dearest to the Swedes - from the beloved children's book author Astrid Lindgren to deep forests, long sandy beaches, perfect spots for that all-important 'fika', and a surprising amount of space, peace and quiet. READ () »

Weekend weather to bring summer warmth
Swedes enjoy hot dogs and cherry blossoms in Stockholm's Kungsträdgården. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Weekend weather to bring summer warmth

The sun is set to stick around and temperatures could climb into the twenties over the weekend, Swedish meteorologists said on Wednesday READ () »

'Day-care rapist' admits molesting eight kids

'Day-care rapist' admits molesting eight kids

A 21-year-old man confessed on Wednesday to sex crimes against eight children at a day care where he was working as an intern. READ () »

Swedish cops nab man for having big muscles
An unrelated bodybuilder. File photo: Ann Törnkvist

Swedish cops nab man for having big muscles

Police in Sweden's south who hauled a muscular man in for steroid testing have had their knuckles rapped, after it was ruled that big biceps cannot be grounds for narcotics suspicions. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
TT
Gallery
Inside the 850-year-old king's coffin
Features
Sponsored: South-eastern Sweden offers Öland beaches and more
Gallery
Swedish underwear shop puts staff in front of the camera
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The Local's Property of the Week - Täby
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - India Unlimited
Features
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - A film, food, and finance feast
National
University applications rocket to record high
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 18-20
TT
Society
Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter
Shutterstock
National
Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
Society
Swedish supermarket Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off air
Kungahuset
Society
Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 16
Advertisement:
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 11-13
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

719
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com