Koenigsegg ‘no wet dream’ for Saab: expert

Despite the excitement generated by Thursday’s news that Swedish supercar manufacturer Koenigsegg was set to buy Saab, a number of automotive journalists in Sweden remain sceptical.

Koenigsegg 'no wet dream' for Saab: expert

“It sounds like a joke,” writes Aftonbladet’s automotive reporter Robert Collin.

Collin admits that 36-year-old Christian von Koenigsegg, who in 1994 founded the company which makes about twenty €1 million ($1.4 million) deluxe sports cars a year, is a man of many talents.

However, the seasoned observer of the Swedish auto world doubts that the entrepreneur has the ability to take on the challenge of managing Saab.

“I don’t think Saab will survive,” he continues.

Collin’s comments come following a report by Sveriges Television (SVT) on Thursday that luxury sports car maker Koenigsegg will buy Saab Automobile from US giant General Motors with the backing of Norwegian investors.

The buyers have signed a letter of intention to buy Saab, SVT said on its website, citing anonymous sources and naming Koenigsegg, adding that the negotiations could last for months.

“We are getting close to a deal done, but there are some final steps to be taken,” a source close to the matter told AFP, but would not confirm the identity of the leading bidder.

Both Saab and its parent company GM declined comment on the report.

According to Lasse Svärd with Dagens Nyheter (DN), the marriage of Saab and Koenigsegg is a positive development for Saab, at least in the short-term, as it signals that things are finally moving forward for the troubled Swedish brand after months of uncertainty.

“Saab needs to quickly find some peace and quiet with a far-sighted owner that can supply the company with the resources to help it create new models,” he told DN.

But Svärd stopped short of embracing Koenigsegg as an ideal owner for Saab, which owes 9.7 billion kronor ($1.3 billion) to GM — its largest individual creditor — as well as 347 million kronor to the Swedish government. Other creditors are owed 647 million kronor.

“It’s really a hard question to answer. Spontaneously, my answer is no, at least it’s hard to see how it will all work,” he said when asked if the exclusive sportscar manufacturer was the right partner to give Saab the lift it needs.

Saab has not officially named its suitors but British daily The Financial Times had previously named Koenigsegg plus two other bidders, the US investment firms Renco and Merbanco.

Media reports had also said Italy’s Fiat was keen on buying Saab, but observers say such a move is now unlikely because of Fiat’s failure to acquire GM’s other European brand Opel.

Opel and its sister marque, Vauxhall, share a lot of technology with Saab.

The Saab automaker sold 93,000 cars worldwide in 2008, according to its website.

Expressen’s automotive reporter Jan-Erik Berggren was more direct in expressing his concerns about Koenigsegg’s suitability for Saab, despite the professed excitement from Saab enthusiasts, who for months have expressed their keenness for a Saab- Koenigsegg tie-up on blogs and internet forums.

“For them, Koenigsegg is like a wet dream,” writes Berggren.

“But it’s time for them to wake up.”

According to Berggren, it’s “totally unrealistic” that a company with a turnover of around 100 million kronor per year ($13 million) could pull off a deal expected to be worth 5 to 10 billion kronor, no matter how much money the group of Norwegian investors rumoured to be behind the deal have in their pockets.

However, if the two companies can survive their first five or six years together, Berggren admitted that may be enough to prove the deal can succeed in the long-term as well.

Saab Automobile employs about 3,400 people in Sweden. Including suppliers, some 15,000 jobs in the country are believed to be at risk if the company were to disappear.

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Former Swedish Saab bosses appear in court

Swedish car maker Saab's former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson and the firm's former head lawyer Kristina Geers have appeared in court in Vänersborg in west Sweden, accused of falsifying financial documents shortly before the company went bankrupt in 2011.

Former Swedish Saab bosses appear in court
Saab's former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson. Photo: Karin Olander/TT
The pair are accused of falsifying the paperwork at the height of the Swedish company's financial difficulties at the start of the decade.
A third person – who has not been named in the Swedish media – is accused of assisting them by issuing false invoices adding up to a total of 30 million kronor ($3.55m).
According to court documents, the charges relate to the firm's business in Ukraine and the paperwork in question was signed just before former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson resigned.
Both Jonsson and Saab's former head lawyer Kristina Geers have admitted signing the papers but denied knowledge of the Ukranian firm implicated in the case.
All three suspects deny all the charges against them.

Saab's former head lawyer Kristina Geers. Photo:  Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT
Saab filed for bankruptcy at the end of 2011, after teetering on the edge of collapse for nearly two years.
Chief prosecutor Olof Sahlgren told the court in Vänersborg on Wednesday that the alleged crimes took place in March 2011, when Saab was briefly owned by the Dutch company Spyker Cars.
It was eventually bought by National Electric Vehicle Sweden (Nevs), a Chinese-owned company after hundreds of staff lost their jobs.
The car maker, which is based in west Sweden, has struggled to resolve serious financial difficulties by attracting new investors since the takeover.
In October 2014 it announced it had axed 155 workers, close to a third of its workforce.
Since 2000, Saab automobile has had no connection with the defence and aeronautics firm with the same name. It only produces one model today, the electric 9-3 Aero Sedan, mainly targeting the Chinese market.