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Multitasking with Victor Muller, Saab’s Unlikely White Knight

Can a Dutch lawyer-cum entrepreneur turn the long-troubled company around?

by on Jun.07, 2010

Victor Muller's Spyker pulled off an unexpected coup by acquiring Sweden's Saab from General Motors.

Despite his congenial and seemingly relaxed manner, Victor Muller isn’t a man to waste time.

Joining some journalists for a meal at a hillside restaurant in the Swedish town of Trollhattan, one evening last week, Muller readily fielded questions with only the occasional pause for reflection.  When his guests spoke, he’d quickly grab utensils and stab a bite of food, glancing down at a pair of cellphones as he’d chew.  When it was time to respond, Muller would exchange fork and knife for two cellphones, a new Blackberry in his right hand for e-mail, a battered old Nokia in his left to handle text messages – often keying in one-handed responses on each as he spoke.

It was a skill the one-time lawyer learned in the days when he was making, rather than spending money, building up a reputation as a mergers-and- acquisition specialists in the Netherlands, then as an entrepreneur, building his bank account with a shipping company and, later, a fashion firm.

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But a decade ago, the tall and lanky Dutchman quite literally shifted gears, turning to a more risky, albeit more passionate, series of ventures that now put his comfortable fortune at risk.  Muller’s current pursuits bring several biblical references to mind: David and Goliath, perhaps, though the deal he inked barely 100 days ago might better be likened to Jonah swallowing the whale.

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