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Dutch shareholders doubt Saab-Spyker deal

Christine Demsteader · 29 Jan 2010, 16:05

Published: 29 Jan 2010 16:05 GMT+01:00

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In an open letter, Jan Maarten Slagter has fired a highly-charged list of questions at Victor Muller, whose company is listed on the Euronext Amsterdam stock exchange.

Slagter is requesting more details as to Spyker's financing of Saab Automobile from General Motors, which was announced earlier this week.

He hopes his queries will be addressed at the next shareholder's meeting, scheduled for February 12th.

"It's an extremely complicated deal, so shareholders should be informed in more detail about the chances of success," Slagter told financial news website E24.

A central question for VEB is Spyker's strategy to reverse the fortunes of Saab and turn an old, ailing business into a profitable new venture.

"That is, of course, what is most important," Slagter added. "The new management of Spyker have no experience whatsoever of large-scale car manufacturing."

Slagter casts a pessimistic shadow over the deal and believes the new company’s chances of success are 'minimal'.

“I wish him good luck but all those who are thinking of investing in the company must be aware that they are taking a big risk.”

Story continues below…

Shares in Spyker rocketed when rumours emerged of the take-over talks with GM.

At the end of last year shares hovered around the €1.90 ($2.65) mark. On Friday, at the time of writing, they were trading for €3.85. ($5.37)

Christine Demsteader (christine.demsteader@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

17:50 January 29, 2010 by warrendotcom
This pessimism is terrible. SAAB and their management, who are experienced in 'large-scale car manufacturing', will still be in charge. Perhaps Spyker didn't sell as many vehicles as SAAB each year, but their management could not do worse than GM's mismanagement of the company. The fact that they care about SAAB and it's employees makes their management an improvement.

What the shareholders need to know is that the SAAB Community is extremely supportive of this new ownership of SAAB and that outpouring of support is unprecedented.
19:56 January 29, 2010 by tapaninyc
Well... Optimism and an extremely supportive community that is actually pouring out their the extreme support on SAAB is not the same as selling tons of cars.

I wish you luck! But coming up with exclamation-enforced sentiments is a far cry from being a profitable car manufacturer.
21:07 January 29, 2010 by spy

And making cynical comments based on zero fact doesn't make you an expert either.
22:19 January 29, 2010 by V70
SAAB has a very loyal following in the US..Also a very large Dealer Network..

SAAB can be Very profitable in America by returning to its core values..SAAB was and is a niche player.. Period..

They will do well provided they stay in their market and market segment...
22:37 January 29, 2010 by Coalbanks
V70 Right on the head of the nail! Do what you do well, focus on service & building, marketing the best product you can build, preferably with as few models as possible. GM had too many divisions, too many too similar models, too much on offer to too few customers.
22:45 January 29, 2010 by Marvino
I question the statement that SAAB is an old and ailing business...Has anybody have a look at the new SAAB plant ? I frankly do not understand the pessimism included in the article above. Slagter should go to Trollhattan and have a look at the "old business" for himself. Old ? So is Daimler Benz, BMW, AUDI and so on. GM ruined SAAB business due to their stupidity. After building the new plant, (yes, they built it!!!) they did not know what to do with it. For a while they wanted to build Cadillacs there. Nobody will miss GM in Trollhattan...
01:35 January 30, 2010 by volvoman9
Absolutely right on this one. The American auto industry has been producing sh@t for decades and actually undertook studies to create products that would self destruct in 50 to 75 k miles. This is documented, it's called planned obsolescence, creates a perpetual buyer. The American philosophy has been one of recurring profit not one of quality. Look at the Saab SUV; a GMC with slightly altered body styling or the Saabaroo. The public must demand more from the industry. Don't buy their substandard products any more and they will have to change. It is time to stand up as consumers. What's wrong with choice? The Saab enjoyed and eclectic clientele until GM ruined it. This eclectic sense and the emphasis on a quality product is what makes the Swedish brands attractive. I have owned numerous Volvos because of the quality of build and the common sense approach to design they offer. The western world has become a consumer economy, lets at least drive the direction of this with our purchasing power.
02:45 January 30, 2010 by otourinho
It is unlikely that the true shareholders of Spyker, Mr Mueller included, are unhappy with the recent performance of the company's stock price, and have such a guarded view of the deal as that of Mr. Slagter. Of course, one possible explanation for Mr. Slagter's skepticism and outright suspicion is the possibility that he may be representing himself and other dutch investors that did not think it was likely that the deal would close, sold short Spykes's stock, and are now desperate because the share price is skyrocketing. ...
13:07 January 30, 2010 by Mr B
For Saab to dissapear would be a tragedy.I puchased my first Saab (a 900T16s ) 20 years ago and what a fantastic car it was.I've been driving Saab's ever since.Saab did'nt ruin its own reputation for style and build quality,GM did that.I now have a 10 year old 9-5 aero and prefer to drive that than my 11 month old Toyota Auris company car.If Saab is left to design and build cars that fit into its niche market they will succeed.A friend of mine said of my first Saab "it's the thinking mans volvo",how right he was.Can't wait for the new 9-5 to be released.
16:43 January 31, 2010 by spy
The VEB have NOT 'THROWN A SPANNER IN THE WORKS' they are just being nosey. They do not have a right to know how Victor Muller financed his shares - it's his private business and his financiers may easily want to remain anonymous without anything sinister being afoot. The VEB's letter this will not affect anything.
00:26 February 1, 2010 by falcon
With Government funds being used, Spyker should be absolutely open. I'm sure the answer is just fine but until then, it appears they are hiding something. After all this, transparency is both expected and the proper thing to do. Denial and stonewalling make Spyker and Mr. Muller look bad and do not help a fragile SAAB.

Not a good start.
08:51 February 1, 2010 by rahpor
In The Netherlands this message was received as: "Ow... not them again... Please!!!"...
14:29 February 3, 2010 by spy

I am sure that there were other prospective buyers who were more private with their personal finances.... And rightly so - this will have no bearing on the deal in any way.
17:21 February 7, 2010 by bira
The shareholders have every right to be cautious and "nosy" about such a deal, after all, it is their investment money at risk. However, the fact that Spyker shares have more than doubled over just the rumors of buying SAAB should be a positive sign to those same shareholders. A smart business man with good financials does exactly what Mr. Muller is doing, acquire while the economy is poor and businesses are cheap, relatively speaking, and turn things around as the economy recovers. The fact the car sales in Sweden are up 37% in January compared to Jan., 2009 is obviously a good sign. Regardless, I wish SAAB the best. I grew up in the region and it would really stink if they went bust.
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