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Saab Steers Clear of Bankruptcy – for Now

Workers agree not to press for bankruptcy – but factory remains closed til Aug 29 at earliest.

by on Aug.08, 2011

It could be Aug. 29 before Saab's Trollhattan plant begins running again.

It’s becoming almost the norm for Saab, the maker fighting off yet another threat that could drive it into bankruptcy.  This time, however, it’s the maker’s workers who were threatening to deliver the coup de grace.

The union representing 1,600 salaried employees in Sweden had been ready to go to court to push the company into bankruptcy in their pursuit of paychecks that had been due last month.  The company quickly came up with the necessary cash – but still hasn’t found the money it needs to get suppliers to start shipping parts to the factory in Trollhatten.

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Saab had been hoping to re-open the plant by last week.  But parts manufacturers have been boycotting the headquarters factory since late March, leading to a growing shortage of Saab 9-3 and 9-5 models – and further complicating the struggling Swedish maker’s efforts to stave off collapse.

“We still need to reach an agreement on a delivery plan with suppliers,” said spokeswoman Gunilla Gustavs, who says the maker likely won’t re-launch production until at least August 29th.


Saab Lines Up $40 Mil Deal to Pay Down Debt

Maker hoping it can soon re-start idled assembly plant.

by on Jun.28, 2011

Saab's factory could soon be running again - or so the automaker now hopes.

The cash-starved Swedish automaker Saab continues lining up funding that it hopes will permit it to pay off mounting debts and re-start its idled assembly plant.

A day after revealing that an unnamed Chinese company will acquire $18.4 million worth of Saab vehicles, the maker says it has a tentative leaseback deal in place to sell a majority stake in its Saab Automobile Property unit, which owns the Trollhattan plant and additional assets.  The deal, worth an estimated $40 million, could help Saab not only meet the payroll it missed last week but also cover unpaid bills claimed by its parts suppliers.

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Those vendors have been boycotting Saab since March, compounding the company’s already severe financial problems.

The latest deal would transfer a 50.1% stake in Saab Automobile Property to the Swedish real estate company, Hemfosa.  Saab’s parent, Swedish Automobile, would then sign a 15-year agreement to lease the Trollhattan plant and other facilities.  Hemfosa will also have the right to increase its stake in the property company by buying $7 million worth of shares.


Another White Knight Appears for Saab

Third Chinese company offers $18 million to cash-starved Swedes.

by on Jun.27, 2011

Saab lines up a deal to sell nearly 600 vehicles, raising $18 million in desperately needed cash.

It’s getting hard to tell the players without a scorecard, especially as Saab continues to spread its net hoping to come up with cash that can keep the financially struggling company afloat.

Less than a week after admitting it doesn’t have the resources to make payroll, the Swedish maker has announced yet another Chinese company has offered to lend it a hand, this time agreeing to pay $18.4 million in cash for 582 unsold Saab cars.  Meanwhile, efforts continue to win the approval of regulators in Europe and China needed to ensure that several other proposed deals can be completed, giving Saab enough cash to get it beyond the current crisis.

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“I am pleased to announce this agreement as it secures part of the necessary short-term funding for Saab Automobile and allows us to pay our employees’ wages before the end of this month,” Chief Executive Victor Muller said in a statement.

But it remains to be seen whether the latest bailout will be enough to get Saab back into production again, observers caution.


Saab Plant Ready to Resume Production

"I blame myself," says Saab's Acting CEO.

by on May.11, 2011

A partially-assembled 9-5 body sits on the currently idled Saab Trollhattan assembly plant.

With its new investors on board and a new chief operating officer in place to direct its business in the U.S., Saab AB expects to restart its main assembly plant in Trollhattan Sweden, the company’s chief shareholder and  acting chief executive officer told

Victor Muller, Saab’s acting CEO, also said he expects to recruit a new, permanent CEO soon and took responsibility for the recent confrontation with suppliers that forced Saab to close the Trollhattan plant and undermined the company’s reputation.

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“I blame myself for what happened,” Muller said during an unusually candid moment before a dinner with journalists in Washington D.C.  Muller earlier told that when suppliers threatened to halt deliveries over unpaid bills he decided to resist – to unexpected results.

Earlier this year, Saab was beginning the transition away from the GM’s purchasing organization, which meant that the terms and conditions of specific contracts were also in flux. As the terms began to change, some of the suppliers balked and in Muller’s words he decided “to call the bluff” of one key supplier.


Saab Anxiously Awaiting Rescue Plan Approval

Muller expects answer next week – but delay could “unravel” things for Swedish maker.

by on Apr.22, 2011

Saab executives, including Chairman Victor Muller (c), and design chief Jason Castriota (r), at the NY Auto Show.

Nearly three weeks after a supplier boycott forced Saab to halt operations at its headquarters assembly plant, the maker is anxiously waiting for formal approval of its rescue plan – and fretting that a long delay could cause its operations to “unravel.”

The shutdown has cost the maker significant lost production even as it aims to build up global inventory.  But Saab Chairman Victor Muller told in an exclusive interview that he believes the Swedish maker could recover those losses in a matter of months – if and when it gets the go-ahead for a plan that would pump millions of Euros into its cash coffers.

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“Well, I’m still hoping” to get an answer within the next few days, said Muller, admitting, “I don’t know” why a proposed rescue plan has not gotten the necessary approval from the European Investment Bank.


Saab Shutdown Drags On, Threaten Brand’s Survival

Suppliers claim Swedish maker owes millions.

by on Apr.08, 2011

The Saab 9-5 Aero at the maker's plant in Trollhattan, which has been idled by suppliers demanding payment.

The shutdown of Saab’s main assembly plant, at its Trollhattan, Sweden headquarters, could drag on for some time as the maker struggles to raise additional cash to help cover what parts suppliers claim are millions of dollars in unpaid bills.

The maker’s parent, Dutch-based Spyker Cars, nonetheless insists that Saab is not nearing a collapse.  The maker only emerged for near-insolvency a year ago, after Spyker purchased the failing brand and its assets from General Motors.

A spokesperson for the automaker, based several hours from capital city Stockholm, said Saab officials are “working hard” to find a solution, but also warned “could” stretch on for several days.

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Following the Geneva Motor Show, in March, Saab Chairman Victor Muller stated the company still has about $200 million of the money left from a 2010 European Investment Bank loan.  But he also said Spyker would be seeking to raise additional capital as quickly as possible.

Saab was hit with a brief production halt last week when suppliers temporarily halted deliveries.  Saab appeared to have addressed that problem, but the confrontation resumed this week, and the latest production halt is now in its fourth day.


Saab Slammed By 2nd Supplier-led shutdown

by on Apr.06, 2011

A Saab 9-5 on the Trollhattan assembly line.

A “minor glitch” has led to the second shutdown of Saab’s headquarters plant, in Trollhattan, Sweden, in barely a week – suppliers refusing to provide critical parts because, they claim, they haven’t been paid.

Though Saab officials insists they have enough ongoing money to keep going through at least 2012, the latest crisis raises new concerns about the future of the struggling carmaker – which was purchased from General Motors in early 2010.

“We are trying to reach a solution with the suppliers,” asserted Saab spokeswoman Gunilla Gustavs, industry sources fear the situation is only growing worse.

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Saab’s Trollhattan plant was briefly shuttered last week but it initially appeared the maker was able to resolve what Chairman Victor Muller described as a “minor glitch” and make the necessary payments.

Though Muller last month told Saab had more than $200 million remaining from the loan provided by the European Investment Bank, he also indicated the Swedish company was looking for new investors.  That was one reason why parent Spyker Cars sold off its Dutch-based sports car manufacturing operations.