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SAAB BECOMES CHINESE
'The deal was crucial for Saab': expert
Victor Muller and Pang Da CEO Pang Qinghua; Mikael Wickelgren

'The deal was crucial for Saab': expert

Published: 28 Oct 2011 14:59 GMT+02:00
Updated: 28 Oct 2011 14:59 GMT+02:00

After months of uncertainty cash-strapped carmaker Saab might finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, as Chinese firms Pang Da and Youngman announced on Friday that they will buy 100 percent of the shares of Saab Automobile.

The Local spoke to business expert Mikael Wickelgren of the Centre for Consumer Science at the University of Gothenburg to get some perspective on what this means for Saab and for Sweden.

The Local: Will this save Saab?

Mikael Wickelgren: It's way too early to say that yet. This deal alone can't save the company anyway, it just means that the restructuring will not be cancelled.

TL: Is Saab a profitable deal for the Chinese?

MW: At the moment Saab can't be seen as a profitable deal for anyone. It will take measures; basically money to be pumped in to the company to pay off debts and make investments in the company. It will cost a lot of money to start with.

TL: Did the Chinese make a good deal over Saab?

MW: Well, the deal is hardly established yet. All we have seen so far is a so called memorandum of understanding, which basically means that they will now sit down and work out the actual deal.

TL: Is Saab going to be able to continue being a ”Swedish” car?

MW: What is a Swedish car? Is Volvo a Swedish car despite being 100 percent owned by Chinese companies? Is Jaguar a British car despite its Indian owners? I think it depends on what we perceive it to be, more than anything.

TL: Will cars continue being built in Trollhättan?

MW: There are no indications that the production will be moved in the short term, that is, within the next 5-6 years. Trollhättan is and will continue to be the epicentre of Saab production.

TL: What does this mean for Saab's future?

MW: It was completely crucial for Saab. If this hadn't happened, they would not have been working on the particulars of the Saab future but the Saab bankruptcy right now.

Rebecca Martin (rebecca.martin@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

17:47 October 28, 2011 by AmericanSwede16
how many people lost their jobs?
18:38 October 28, 2011 by spy
19 months in Muller's ownership was more stressful for poor Saab than 20 years in GM's ownership. Good luck to Saab under Chinese stewardship!!!!!!!!!!!!!
02:49 October 29, 2011 by paradisoch
As a U.S. resident who owns and loves his Saab 9-3, I find it unimaginable that the Swedish government would just allow one of its most recognized and well-respected brands to be sold to a Chinese company. What do you have left now? Maybe the factory in Trollhattan, but after 10 years once the Chinese have gotten all the know-how and technology transferred to China, they will surely close that factory.

I find it hard to understand that a country that prides itself on heavy governmental involvement in private affairs, you would just let this jewel of a company leave.

While I love my Saab, any new Saab will just never be the same and I do not plan to ever buy another one.
02:51 October 29, 2011 by millionmileman
This a great relief as so much was at stake. Volvo is doing well under Chines ownership. If it was not for Victor Muller buying SAAB from GM we would not be writing this story today.

Thank you Victor for your tenacity.
11:47 October 29, 2011 by Horace
I posted this on the other Saab article but I will repeat it here:

Why must there always be negativity towards us Chinese buying out a foreign firm? It happened with Geely and the comments seem to repeat it self now with Saab. Was there also similar negativity when the Americans took over Volvo and Saab?

I work at Volvo Cars, and the general consensus now is that the Chinese owner is treating them miles better than how the Americans treated them. Yet I feel like my race gets a lot of hate.
12:23 October 29, 2011 by Just_Kidding
2. Horace... Maybe hidden racism...
16:57 October 29, 2011 by Osk
Err paradisoch... Saab was not owned by the Swedish government, in fact before Spyker bought it it was owned by an American company. These days you will find the Chinese own quite a lot , of America as well as Europe. Get used to it.

Calm down Horace, it will take a bit of time for the west to get used to the fact that China runs the world now.
19:19 October 29, 2011 by spy
I have no problem with the Chinese owning Saab I am sure they will do a better job than the last mob who starved it of cash.

Soon the Chinese will own much of Europe's debt too. Good luck to them.
11:41 October 30, 2011 by Dr. Dillner
What will the world be like when it is entirely owned by China?
12:28 October 30, 2011 by grace89
paradisoch.....it does not matter whether you ever buy Saab car again, but it does matter that Chinese has a deal with Saab this time. This is the fact.

The world is changing.
07:02 October 31, 2011 by useronthenet
We are taught here in Sweden to be open, free and just ... to treat everyone with respect and on an equal basis. These rights were fought for through democracy over many years, and yet all of these have been set aside in order to deal with a country which has a terrible human rights record, that does not uphold the values that we enjoy, am I missing something here, or has the country gone totally mad ? Doing business with the Chinese is totally wrong! Sweden must look seriously at what it is doing. I for one would be prepared to pay a little bit extra to ensure jobs stay in Sweden. Selling 'iconic' brands is crazy, and it is diluting what we represent. If we don't watch out we will become slaves to our new masters. I hope Sweden is prepared for the outcome.
13:41 October 31, 2011 by Vee50
I simply love Swedish design. So long as the car designers are still Swedish born and bred, doesn't matter whose cash it is. This is business.
17:45 October 31, 2011 by Horace
@useronthenet

I understand where you're coming from, since I have heard these opinions before. However, as a Chinese myself, I just have to raise couple questions which will hopefully, convince you to not be so anti Chinese.

1) Is there a strong correlation between Chinese citizens and the human rights record of China? If country X has a really bad human rights record, does that mean most of the citizens there support poor human rights? Is Pang Da and Youngman responsible for any human rights violations in China?

2) If doing business with the Chinese is totally wrong, then is it right for a small Swedish store to reject selling me their goods just because I am Chinese? I think most would answer no for that question. And if so, then at what scale of business does it suddenly go from okay to not okay?
00:41 November 1, 2011 by Just_Kidding
@Vee50

Obviously many people care about parameters such as durability rather than the Swedish race of car designers; just compare the sales of Toyota and Saab :)

I myself think that I am smart enough to decide about a car based on customer reviews of the brand and its resale value rather than the bread of the car's designers.

By the way, Swedish people design and build some amazing trucks, but I am not much impressed by ugly cars with engines borrowed from here and there.
02:30 November 1, 2011 by earthworm
This will be interesting.

I say this ..."go China", its about time, with a near majority of this planets people and the oldest civilization.....

As it is now, IMO, made in China means value and decent workmanship...Can Sweden do as well....a nation of designers and engineers...and Chinese to be the second language..
07:04 November 2, 2011 by Vee50
Just_Kidding

Don't get me wrong, by Swedish, I meant Swedish culture though most of the time race and culture are mingled. The designer could be an Afro-Swede but so long as the designs are of strong Swedish influence, that's Swedish. You could be right about the engines being borrowed here and there due to American business models but no chance Swedish cars are ugly. Toyota? Yes, like Honda, as a total package they are good at what they do. Perhaps, there is a thing or two that Swedish auto companies can learn from them on the execution side of the business. Japanese cars better looking than Swedish cars? Zero chance.
23:28 November 2, 2011 by Just_Kidding
Vee50...

I am glad that you were not looking from the race point of view. I agree that the engineering traditions, business approaches and work style in a country affects a product. When I was young I had an american bike and and Indian bike, every summer I pulled apart my american bike and oiled and put it back, but it was not possible with the Indian bike since they were using low grade steels in its nuts and bolts.

About the looks of Hondas and Toyotas, lets say that we have a different sense of style. By the way, some of the hondas and toyotas (e.g. 1999 Toyota Corolla) exported to Europe are considerably uglier than those exported to the american market.
23:26 November 3, 2011 by zeulf
Horace I do think that this will go better than Spykers ownership, which seemed to be just a ballon,filled with nothing but hot air. the Chinese are like any other group, the Han believing themselves to be just the smartest people on the planet. Kind of like the Swedes, or Brits, Yanks, Aussies, Canadians, Russians, Germans , French, Italians I think they will do well with Saab. but their country is still run by a Dictatorship. Lets hope it all works out
17:08 November 4, 2011 by Horace
I think it has more to do with income than race. I know many Swedes and Chinese who do not think they're the smartest or even smart. If I had to generalized I'd say it's rich people (Swedes, Chinese, Brits, etc...) who think they're the smartest :)
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