Saab Dodges Another Bullet

June 29th, 2011
Victor Muller and employees in Trollhattan

Victor Muller apologizes to unpaid employees in Trollhattan

Victor Muller, the Saab CEO (formerly head of Spyker), must be one persistent guy. In the face of the company’s imminent demise, with workers going unpaid and his board bailing out, he gets a $26.5 million order for 582 cars from an undisclosed Chinese firm.

And on Tuesday, he concluded a $39 million lease-back deal on Saab factory and office properties with a consortium of Swedish investors. European regulators need to approve, but that should happen soon.

Muller is blessed or cursed, depending on how you look at Saab’s future, but whatever else, he is tenacious. So, before you write off the company as dead, look at his other prospects.

Youngman Lotus L51

Youngman’s so-called Lotus L5

Two other Chinese firms are interested: distributor Pang Da Automobile Trade Co. Ltd. and the carmaker Zhejiang Youngman Lotus. Edmunds’ Auto Observer says they are vying for about 52 percent of Saab.

It’s hard to find much information about these two companies, but they may have problems getting Chinese government approval.

The other investor in the picture is Russian Vladimir Antonov, whose participation, if approved by Swedish and European authorities, “would bring in substantial new funds.” He’s looking for a 30% stake. If he gets control, he may move production to Latvia.

Yes, the story gets crazier and crazier. A lot of people are saying the company should be left to die, particularly since its cars haven’t brought that much new to the buyers’ table.

And, so far as we know, no cash has yet been brought to Victor Muller’s table.

Well, folks, what are the odds that one or more of Victor Muller’s unlikely deals will somehow come together to save Saab, an historic small company that once made some very good vehicles?

—jgoods

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  1. Randy
    | #1

    I think what’s going on can be called “death rattle” and SAAB isn’t going to survive on orders for a few hundred cars from China or Russian promises. Should SAAB survive? While the company built up a small cult following, GM virtually destroyed that with it’s series of cookie-cutter me-too products and then dumped the brand as part of the bankruptcy. I think what you’re seeing now is the legacy of GM’s failure to differentiate the brand and the resulting consumer disinterest in SAAB

  1. | #1
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