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Swedish officials in last ditch Saab rescue plea

TT/The Local · 30 Nov 2009, 08:09

Published: 30 Nov 2009 08:09 GMT+01:00

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State secretary Jöran Hägglund of the Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications (Näringsdepartamentet) is set to meet the GM top brass on Monday in what is viewed as a last ditch effort to convince the US automaker to pick a solution other than shuttering Saab for good.

Hägglund traveled to Detroit on short notice as part of a delegation from both his ministry and the Swedish Ministry of Finance.

When the GM board meets on Tuesday to formulate its decision, it will hold the future of roughly 4,000 residents of Trollhättan in western Sweden in its hands, as well as the fates of an additional 4,000 workers throughout Västra Götaland.

Saab CEO Jan Åke Jonsson criticized the government last week for not doing enough to save Saab, which unions also charged in even more pointed language.

Hägglund’s meeting with the GM leadership is an effort to sort out any remaining questions and give the Detroit bosses insights into the facts following the drawn out and now collapsed process with Koeningsegg.

“Another important mission to also to try to determine what sort of financial muscle the prospective buyers have,” Hägglund told Svergies Televsion (SVT) in a pre-taped segment which broadcast on Sunday night.

Hägglund has previously confirmed that there is interest in taking over Saab from several potential suitors, but he refused to divulge any names.

In the meantime, one name has emerged – that of the American investment group Merbanco.

Story continues below…

But the interest remains only if it’s possible to avoid a new, six-month long process, Merbanco CEO Christopher Johnston told the Reuters news agency.

TT/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

08:47 November 30, 2009 by Nemesis
It took them long enough.

If GM plays games, Sweden is within its rights to seize SAAB from GM. They have been funded by Sweden for years.

GM can now payback and hand over SAAB to the Swedish people.

There also needs to be a forma investigation into why the Konsegsegg bid failed and who is the actual real culprit in that case.
13:49 November 30, 2009 by spy
The Swedish government have only acted because they have been pressurized by the media to get behind their industry and citizens. Public opinion is that this government is extremely ineffectual and passive (not just in the auto industry but elsewhere too). They made a big media announcement some time ago that they were setting up a rescue fund for the automotive industry of 28 billion kronors but it seems this was just spin as they have handed out only a fraction to date.

I note the Swedish government have not sent their A-team to Detroit but can only hope that they have some ammunition in their political arsenal to affect the situation. Otherwise these guys are going to get a very tough time in the lead up to the elections. . . What happens to Saab will have serious ramifications on the entire Swedish auto industry including Volvo, Volvo Trucks, Scania and the multitude of suppliers. . .
02:09 December 1, 2009 by krigeren
@Spy What does the Swedish A Team Look like and what are their names.

Do they have a theme song?


The real culprit is the Naivete of the Swedish government that allowed it to be sold in the first place.

I was involved with Th!nk Nordic.....They make electric cars in Norway.

Ford bought them for about 40 million USD in the late 1990's.

They did so because legislation from New York and California required auto manufacturers to sell X number of ZEV (zero emission vehicles) every year which in turn earned a credit that allowed them to sell X number of SUV's...;-)

Ford invested 100 million dollars into the plant. Put on a bunch of fanfare..invited "Times Man of the Year" to give a speech to the workers about the green movement... All Window Dressing.

At the same time Ford hired numerous lawyers to fight the ZEV laws (So did GM and Chrysler).

The lawyers won....No ZEV laws..Ford sold Th!nk for ONE dollar to a Swiss holding firm.......

That is the legacy of environmental leadership within the US auto industry.

When Demming developed Statistical Process Control and tried to sell it to the US auto industry they did not listen but the Japanese did.

The point is.....The US auto industry has a myopic view of the industry as a whole. They are a poor choice to be the epicenter of the development of the automobile because their ideas are old fashioned and counter to the direction advanced societies are trying to go...i.e., reduced carbon emissions...

Saab was an appendage to GM...a little finger...it was easy to cut off and meant nothing to them.Its just business........

Seizing Saab from GM would be like taking a pair of soiled underwear from a small child. It would be pointless.
09:48 December 1, 2009 by rugla
@ Krigeren, spot on!

There is little to seize, the sad part of the story for the people involved is the job loss, there is nothing else, the technological magic and IPR has been gone for years, all the patents all the good stuff GONE.

This is the very reason the government should stay out of it, help the people losing their jobs with re-training, re-schooling whatever, help them.

Why put money behind to keep something alive when it has been dead for some time? There is nothing else there!

If investors want to play with their money let them try, government involvement is another thing, an investor sees red, the first thing that happens is they divest the asset base cash as much as they can and leave others including the tax payer holding the bag, this was the worry of the government with Von Egg Head Segg, no transparency, overstatement of capabilities, etc, etc.
19:12 December 2, 2009 by Flying Scotsman

You have no idea like anyone else what is going to happen to this company in the short or long term. Ask yourself why has this company not made a profit in 20 years, and before you come up with another theory that the Americans have taken all the profits out of SAAB, at least entertain us with some foundation to your theory, please.

Sweden is ranked within the top three managed economies in the world. This is because of the tax collected from salaries, and cost of living, etc. As far as I learnt at business school (Handelshögskolan) all investments in production are being moved to emerging markets to exploit cheaper costs, and foreign governments are welcoming foreign direct investment with open arms. Technologies can be moved, it is called a specific asset, all businesses have some form of asset. SAAB is no different, but it's only chance to get back into profit is to move out of Sweden so costs can be reduced and passed onto the consumers, this is the key to their growth.

And spy, I don't dream or pretend I know business, I have studied it, I understand how it functions in todays "global village" with globalisation. SAAB has one option if it wants to compete and grown. I have perfectly described it for you because it seems you are having a little difficulty understanding what needs to be done to save this company.

What is cheaper for the country, making all SAAB staff redundant and using Sweden's national accounts to fund unemployment? Or do we keep on throwing money at this company and get nothing more than an expensive car that only has a majority market share in Sweden. My view is that it is better for the country to move SAAB out and fund unemployment, this is made on a long term calculation. This may seem harsh, but living in the real world of business is no place for people sympathetic to the effects of their decisions. A company has to make profit, thats is function, surplus over costs, and SAAB has not be able to do that for along time
22:16 December 3, 2009 by Leprechaun .se
@ kriegeren

That's very cold of them.. then I guess that they really don't care about volvo either. We're screwed..

@ Flying Scotsman

If I believed in your last paragraph I would say that then it is better to let saab go bankrupt. Either it stays in Sweden or it doesn't exist. Profits and jobs stay in Sweden or no one will benefit from it. Cold but that's the way I feel about it. No one is going to 'steal' that company from us.

Btw didn't they make a profit in 95? Lol that's sad.. haha
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