• Sweden's news in English

Questions abound in Sweden after Saab sold to Koenigsegg

Paul O'Mahony · 17 Jun 2009, 16:22

Published: 17 Jun 2009 16:22 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Some experts and commentators questioned whether Saab's new owners have the necessary expertise to run a car company, as Koenigsegg has yet to detail its plans for the marque and amid speculation it could slash jobs in Sweden.

Koenigsegg Automotive, part of the Koenigsegg Group that signed a preliminary deal with GM for Saab, employs just 45 people and builds just 18 cars a year, sold for more than a million euros ($1.4 million) each.

An editorial in the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper said the deal announced on Tuesday threw up "more questions than answers."

"The business plan should not only take into account how to solve the financial problems, it should also include a plan for new models, where and how they will be manufactured, and not least how the cars will be sold and marketed," the newspaper said.

Under GM's stewardship, Saab rarely posted a profit and last year lost 3 billion kronor ($341 million at the time).

Tabloid Aftonbladet was equally sceptical of the deal, running a piece under the headline: "No, Saab has not been saved."

The paper pointed out the Swedish government could still refuse to to provide the guarantees for a $600 million loan from the European Investment Bank.

"They (the government), in theory at least, could come to the conclusion that the whole affair is an adventure that should not be guaranteed with taxpayers' hard-earned money," the report said.

Saab's financial woes eased a bit Wednesday when a Swedish court approved an application to write down 75 percent of the automaker's debts -- previously some 10 billion kronor.

Meanwhile, Koenigsegg's founder, 36-year-old Christian von Koenigsegg, revealed little of his plans in an interview with Swedish public broadcaster SVT, saying only that he had a long-term ownership plan and would follow the business plan previously laid out by Saab's chief executive Jan Åke Jonsson.

"We think there is potential to develop this with a long-term view. But of course we have a lot of hard work ahead of us," he said.

But he offered few details about how the new owners plan to restore Saab to profitability.

"We want to focus on the Swedish aspect, build that up again. I see Saab as having its own niche as a post modernist, sporty, comfort car with an environmental aspect," von Koenigsegg said.

While GM's announcement on Tuesday said Saab's production would be concentrated in its southwestern Swedish hub of Trollhaettan, von Koenigsegg gave no guarantees to Saab employees.

Story continues below…

"If we become the owners of Saab we will do our utmost to create a strong company that can survive on the international market," he told news agency TT.

While unions have heralded the return of Saab to Swedish ownership, some media reports have suggested that the Koenigsegg Group, which is backed by wealthy American and Norwegian investors, could have ties to Russian oligarchs.

A company known as the Koenigsegg Group was registered in Sweden on May 29th with US billionaire and founder of Russian telecoms giant Vimpelcom Augie Fabela as chairman.

According to Swedish regulatory filings, the largest shareholder is Alpraaz, a company first started by Christian von Koenigsegg in 1992, with a 42.5 percent stake.

Norwegian investment company Eker Group owns 11.8 percent while San Diego-based investment banker Mark Bishop owns 22.2 percent and the remaining 23.5 percent belongs to Koenigsegg Automotive.

Paul O'Mahony (paul.omahony@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

11:07 June 19, 2009 by Nemesis
All I have to say is this.

I hope that Koenigsegg is a major sucess.

As for the journalists who do not believe that someone who is Swedish or European for that matter, can run a large company. Maybe they should be asked to leave and go elsewhere.

Like any takeover, time will tell.

I wish Koenigsegg well in this. I hope they suceed.
15:59 June 19, 2009 by redcrown
may be koenigsegg who is a lover of cars will be more successful than an accountant running GM who thinks of dollars only and produces cars the public neither wants or buys

PS I love my SAAB!
17:30 June 21, 2009 by spy
This is nothing but hot air from second rate Swedish media. 4 months ago they said Saab would not be sold and that it was 'over and out'.

Surprisingly quite a few journalists still fail to understand that it is a consortium of heavywieght investors not a small car company looking to take over Saab.

I can imagine that the Swedish government have had their questions answered or they would not be moving ahead with loan guarantees.
19:43 June 21, 2009 by russellouten-coe
Lets just be glad that the Europeans are back in control. GM ripped the heart out of SAAB and we have more potential to transplant it back with Koenigsegg than the other contenders. Koenigsegg heres a toast to you and lets look forward to a rock solid rejuvenated SAAB with the brand values on which it built it reputation
09:05 June 23, 2009 by justanotherexpat
Will Koenigsegg take over the production and hopefully eventual release of the 9-X? Would love one of those.............but not at eggy prices..........best of luck to them, SAAB is a name worth saving. Best car I've ever driven/owned.
23:36 June 24, 2009 by falcon
This is the dumbest idea I have ever heard. Koenigsegg is a loss making company with 20 sales and now they want Saab??? This would be funny for it was a joke. Where are the big heavyweight investors? The world laughs at us.
11:53 June 25, 2009 by Nemesis
Hello Falcon.

The big investors are in Norway. They have made it clear this is a long term project as has Koenigsegg.

All involved have made it clear that jobs are staying in Sweden and that further production models will be made in Sweden. They have also made it clear that reseach and development will be restarted in Sweden.

The world is not laughing at Sweden over this. There is a lot of goodwill from people all over Europe regarding this.

I suggest you stop believing that only Americans can run large corporations. All Americans do is strip out and sell value for shot term gain.

Read Swedish history and you will find a long record of running sucessful business's.

14:53 June 25, 2009 by spy

If you were informed you would see that it is the Koenigsegg Group who have signed a deal not Koenigsegg Automotive..

Koenigsegg Group is a consortium of investors reputedly from Swewden, Norway and the US. . Not just the small supercar company.
17:44 June 25, 2009 by falcon
Andrea + Spy

Who are the BIG Norwegian investors you cite. Can you name them? From where will the needed money come? The only reports I have seen are a group of relative lightweights, and the K-Group does include American. Can you name one person involved who has any experience in a company this size? Just one? The press says they are weak and inexperienced and this pick has been widely questioned, including here in The Local. Are you willing to bet $600 million and 10,000 Swedish jobs on this group? I'm not.

The Koenigsegg Group is not some grand consortium. It's the same crew from TINY Automotive.
22:12 June 25, 2009 by GITM
Yes. Not on here tho, in fact not anywhere, if you don't know, you obviously don't need to.
23:53 June 25, 2009 by spy

Well you must have been living in a cave for the last few weeks because the Swedish media have uncovered a company registration for the 'Koenigsegg Group' (the name on the agreement with GM) which names investors from Sweden, Norway and the US. This has also been reported in countless well respected international sources too.

Regarding the investor from Norway he is reputedly 'Bard Åker' and he has openly talked about being part of the consortium. He is a designer and very sucessful boat manufaturer. Other cited backers are 2 billionaires from the US.

Perhaps you should widen your reading if you are going to make sweeping statements.
02:27 June 26, 2009 by falcon

Thanks for trying to correct me. Here is what I have learned from my cave. Eker. Bishop, Fabela and Koenigsegg are all CURRENT investors in the very small Koenigsegg auto company. They are the exact same people invested in the Koenigsegg Group. The same group who made 18 cars last year. Yessir, 18 cars.

Fabela has strong Russian ties and Bishop has ties to the American Subprime mortgage mess in the USA and is under scrutiny. Fabela is quite wealthy but Bishop is no billionaire. Bishop is from Rancho Santa Fe and Fabela is from Chicago. Nobody, including the government, know much about their ownership/management ability or extent of financial resources. See the Reuters article of today. The press continues to question this choice, including the article above.

I ask again, and since you are all knowing, are you willing to bet $600 million and 10,000 Swedish jobs on this group?

No reason to slam me. If you love Koenigsegg, good luck.
03:25 June 26, 2009 by jack sprat
All very interesting.

This brings back memories of the DeLorean sports car saga back in 81.

Times were bad as at present and some American guy conned the UK govt into backing him.

Additional investment funds came from some naive Hollywood stars and production started up in N.Ireland.

I dont think it lasted more than a year.

The guy turned out to be a crook and was arrested for drugs trafficing and a lot of ppl.lost a lot of money
Today's headlines
Swedish PM visits Iraq for talks on Isis
Stefan Löfven (left) and Haider al-Abadi (right). Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Stefan Löfven will discuss the offensive on Mosul with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

Illicit abattoir kept more than 100 bulls' penises
A couple of young bulls not related to the story. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Dried cattle genitalia, goats' heads and hundreds of litres of lard were just a few of the many strange finds discovered when police raided a property in Sweden.

This is officially Sweden's most beautiful beard
The most beautiful beard in Sweden. Photo: Memo Göcek

According to a jury of barbers and 'well known bearded profiles', that is.

Presented by Invest Stockholm
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm

You might think it’s hard to make friends in a new city. But if at first you don’t succeed – try something else!

Injured Swedish photographer protected by 'guardian angel'
Swedish photographer Paul Hansen on another occasion. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Photographer Paul Hansen thanked his lucky stars for surviving sniper fire while covering the battle for the Isis-held city of Mosul in Iraq.

How Sweden is trying to smooth relations with Saudis
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven meeting Saudi Arabia's Trade Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has visited Saudi Arabia a year and a half after relations turned frosty in a major diplomatic row.

My Swedish Career
'Swedish people love it, but they find it quite odd'
Scottish entrepreneur William Macdonald. Photo: Michael Campanella

Meet the web developer and entrepreneur using traditional Scottish ceilidh dancing to break the ice with Swedes.

Swedish photographer shot near Mosul
Hansen was being operated on in the Iraqi city of Erbil on Sunday. Photo: Nora Lorek/ TT

Paul Hansen, a photographer working for Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, has sustained light injuries after being hit by what appears to be a sniper while covering the battle for the Isis-held city of Mosul in Iraq.

Trollhättan remembers school attack victims
'It was an attack on all of Sweden,' Education Minister Gustav Fridolin said. Photo: Thomas Johansson/ TT

Hundreds of people on Saturday turned out for a torchlight procession in the small town of Trollhättan in southwestern Sweden to honour the victims of last year’s deadly school attack there.

Sweden wants emission- free cars in EU by 2030
Photo: Jessica Gow/ TT

Sweden's environment minister on Saturday urged the European Union to ban petrol and diesel-powered vehicles from 2030.

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
jobs available