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Muller: Saab bankruptcy 'the darkest day'

TT/AFP/The Local · 19 Dec 2011, 16:18

Published: 19 Dec 2011 16:18 GMT+01:00

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”This is the darkest day in my career, probably in the history of Saab. But we had no other alternatives,” said Muller as he opened the press conference on Monday.

According to Muller, there are still interested parties willing to take over Saab's operations, but all such solutions would presuppose that a deal could be reached with former Saab owners General Motors, which has so far scuppered proposed deals involving Chinese owners.

Nevertheless, Muller didn't rule out a possible continuation of the beleaguered Swedish automaker.

”Even if this may look like the end, it doesn't necessarily have to be. It could be a new beginning and Saab could rise from the ashes like a Phoenix,” Muller said.

The comments came shortly before the Vännersborg District Court announced it had approved Saab's bankruptcy petition.

The decision means that bankruptcy proceedings will commence for Saab Automobile, Saab Automobile Powertrain and Saab Automobile Tools.

Lawyers Hans Bergqvist and Anne-Marie Pouteaux have been appointed as bankruptcy trustees against the wishes of Saab, which had suggested attorney Mats Emthén.

A hearing has been scheduled for April 9th during which Saab will be required to affirm the veracity of filings detailing its economic situation and list of assets.

Over the last nine months, maybe 50-75 different interested parties have contacted Swedish Automobile about Saab, according to Muller.

”Out of these, maybe five have actually been serious,” he said.

A couple of new parties have been in touch as late as on Monday.

”But it is difficult to determine just how serious they are.”

In any case, Swedish Automobile (Swan) will not be involved in Saab in the future, according to Muller. He didn't want to comment on GM's actions at this point.

”That would be inappropriate. But everyone can draw their own conclusions,” Muller said.

Muller said that Saab could have been saved as early as April if the European Investment Bank (EIB) had approved Russian financier Vladimir Antonov's involvement.

However, according to Muller, he doesn't regret anything.

”No, that would be juvenile,” he said.

Saab employees, many of which still haven't had their November pay, now don't know what is in store for them in the near future.

"It's so sad," Ulf Drufva, who has worked at the Trollhättan plant for 39

years, told TT.

He added that GM's blocking of the Chinese deal was "strange."

"It's as if GM sees Saab as a threat. And I can't understand that, as small

as we are."

Story continues below…

”It has been a very difficult day. We're mostly shocked right now,” said Per Bränneby, chairman of the Akademikerföreningen/Sveriges Ingenjörer union, at the Trollhättan plant.

He doesn't really know what will happen, but he is hoping that the receiver will find someone to take on the whole company, and that it will happen soon.

According to car industry expert Mikael Wickelgren at the University of Gothenburg, it is still too early to say if this spells the end for Saab.

”Yet again it is a question of money. Ultimately, it will be up to the receiver to decide what happens now but there is of course an imminent risk that Saab will cease to manufacture cars in Trollhättan,” Wickelgren told The Local.

Although GM's decision to veto Youngman was the trigger for Monday's decision, Wickelgren thinks that there have been many other contributing factors causing Saab's current predicament.

Despite it still being conceivable that a new buyer turns up in the eleventh hour and resurrects the ailing auto maker, Wickelgren thinks it is probably not very likely.

”My view is that there is a very slim chance for that to happen. This has been going on for some time and if someone was really serious about it they would have come forward by now,” said Wickelgren to The Local.

Related links:

TT/AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

17:02 December 19, 2011 by StockholmSam
"'This is the darkest day in my career, probably in the history of Saab. But we had no other alternatives,' said Muller as he opened the press conference on Monday."

"Probably?" "PROBABLY??!!!"

Pray tell, what other day in Saabs history would even come close to this? If there is another day, then the company's demise is long overdue.
17:25 December 19, 2011 by spy
Not necessarily the darkest day in Muller's career as he has had quite a few business disasters. But certainly the darkest day in Saab's history.

Saab, 1937 - 2011 RIP.
20:47 December 19, 2011 by Osk
Rise again like err.... the Phoenix four.. I'll give you tenner for it.
21:35 December 19, 2011 by Great Scott
A very sad day for Sweden, the thought of even more unemployment is not good.

But look on the bright side another 5 or 6 thousand for Reinfeldts atrocious phase 3 program, more people working for nothing and keeping Sweden's economy afloat.
00:09 December 20, 2011 by CD65
Good riddance! Let the company die already! It isn't worth saving and it never was. GM didn't stop the Chinese deals because they were worried about competition from SAAB, they wanted to ensure SAAB's ideas never got into their Chinese competitor's hands.
01:02 December 20, 2011 by bira
Nice going GM. Just toss 'em aside like a dirty napkin, no regard to the humans involved. @ CD65, that statement doesn't even make sense. If not afraid of competition then why stop the ideas from getting in the hands of the Chinese? They may not be afraid of SAAB, per-se, obviously not keen on Chinese competition though as we all know it is only a matter of time...
03:33 December 20, 2011 by samwise
"It has been a very difficult day. We're mostly shocked right now," said Per Bränneby, chairman of the Akademikerföreningen/Sveriges Ingenjörer union, at the Trollhättan plant.

I'm shocked that there are people on this planet feeling "shocked" by this inevitable outcome. is he the union boss of Saab?
06:02 December 20, 2011 by calebian22
"It's as if GM sees Saab as a threat. And I can't understand that, as small

as we are."

How naive! Saab is not the threat, but China is. Why would GM release intellectual property rights without compensation?
07:44 December 20, 2011 by karex
It's shocking that things were allowed to get to this stage.
16:25 December 20, 2011 by chocolatechips
GM wants SAAB back for free, I guess. Otherwise why would you block every solution they bring to the table? That's just childish.
18:34 December 20, 2011 by 1bgd271
Putting it quite simply GM does not want the Chinese auto makers to have access

to it's technology which in the first place may have been acquired from SAAB anyway. Let SAAB go through the bankruptcy process and start up again.
14:33 December 22, 2011 by chinthe1
The Chinese,Youngman or whoever can buy the company for peanuts from the receiver.They don't really care about GM's already outdated technology.What they want is the Saab brand name for what will soon be the biggest automobile market in the world,China.
17:27 January 7, 2012 by steve_38
SAAB is dead dont bring it back to life. Its products are rubbish and they cant compete with BMW. Volvo volumes are dropping like a stone and production in Sweden wont be for long. I hope the Unions at Volvo are watching this and understand they are next.
12:38 January 24, 2012 by PlanB
More like a pig rising from the runway at Arlanda. Unlikely.
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