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Another Saab Story: New Owners Narrowly Sidestep New Bankruptcy.

National Electric Vehicle Sweden now seeking partners.

by on Aug.19, 2014

NEVS was able to restart the Saab plant for only a matter of months, producing about 6 cars daily.

It might seem like a comedy routine if it weren’t so deadly serious; the company that bought filed Swedish automaker Saab out of bankruptcy itself averted its own financial collapse this past week and is now frantically seeking a new partner to keep the operation going.

A Chinese-controlled coalition, National Electric Vehicle Sweden hasn’t produced a car at Saab’s Trollhattan plant since May and was being threatened by an unpaid supplier ready to force it into bankruptcy  – echoing what happened to the Dutch firm that previously tried to rescue Saab.

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“The company does not have enough liquid cash today to pay all outstanding debt, but NEVS’ assets are larger than its debt,” the new Saab owner confirmed in a statement. “NEVS cannot say exactly when, but NEVS’ suppliers will get paid.”


Court Administrator Wants to Pull Plug on Saab

Maker likely to have only a few days to avoid collapse.

by on Dec.07, 2011

Image By: Len Katz

Saab Chairman Victor Muller has a week to save his company.

Despite repeated reprieves, it appears time finally is about to run out on long-troubled Saab, the automaker’s court-appointed administrator saying it is time to end the company’s reorganization process – a move that would almost certainly put Saab into insolvency.

The announcement by administrator Guy Lofak follows word that General Motors has refused to approve a deal that would allow Saab to sell a major stake to a consortium teaming Chinese automaker Zhejang Lotus Youngman Automobile and a so-far unidentified Chinese bank.  GM, Saab’s former parent, has the right of refusal on any sale and has said it fears that such a deal would result in the transfer of its technologies to the Chinese.

Nonetheless, “We still have five to six days to do it,” a Saab spokesperson said, referring to the likely time it would take for the courts to respond to Lofak’s request.  In the meantime, the near-bankrupt maker intends to continue searching for new partners or for a way to get GM to reverse its objection to a sale.

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The crisis at Saab started even before GM decided to sell the company to the Dutch-based company now known as Swedish Cars, in early 2010.  The U.S. maker, fresh out of its own bankruptcy, had already dismissed Saab’s board and shut down its headquarters assembly plant in Trolhattan, Sweden.  The delay in restarting the plant created a financial shortfall for Saab that, by early 2011 meant it was struggling to pay its bills.


Saab Lining Up New Chinese Partner

by on Dec.05, 2011

Saab has lined up yet another Chinese deal - but may face problems getting it approved.

Struggling Swedish automaker Saab has lined up yet another White Knight in an effort to forestall bankruptcy.

With several earlier deals now stalled, Saab officials revealed they are talking with an undisclosed Chinese bank hoping it will partner with China’s Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co. to buy a stake in the Swedish maker.

But the latest proposal would face some of the same hurdles that have tripped up other possible rescue deals.  Among other things, it would require the approval of Saab’s former parent, General Motors, which has been reluctant to give the go to any deal that might hand proprietary technologies over to the Chinese.

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Saab was struggling even before GM agreed to sell off the subsidiary in early 2010.  But things got significantly worse early this year when a number of key suppliers launched a boycott over unpaid bills.  The maker’s headquarters plant, in Trollhattan, Sweden, hasn’t been in steady operation since late March.


Will GM Block Saab Sale?

“Many unanswered questions.”

by on Nov.07, 2011

GM - which still produces the 9-4X crossover - says it has "many unanswered questions" about the planned sale of Saab to the Chinese.

The Saab soap opera could take yet another turn, General Motors warning that it could move to block the sale of the cash-starved Swedish automaker to a Chinese consortium.

That $142 million deal, announced on October 28, appeared to be the only way out for Swedish Automobile after failing to raise the cash it needed to save Saab.  But the carmaker’s former parent, General Motors, indicates it could use its remaining veto power to prevent the Chinese from creating a new global competitor.

GM sold Saab in early 2010 after agreeing to sell or close four of its eight North American brands as part of its government bankruptcy bailout.  The new owners proved to be seriously underfunded, a situation which became clearly apparent this past March, when key suppliers began boycotting Saab’s headquarters assembly plant over unpaid bills.

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Swedish Automobile raced to negotiate a series of possible deals to raise some much-needed cash.  In June, it inked a preliminary agreement with China’s largest auto dealer network, Pang Da, along with emerging automaker Zhejiang Youngman Lotus.  But their goal of acquiring a 53% stake in Saab was set back by reluctant bureaucrats who refused to give their authorization.


Saab’s Chinese Deals Collapse

Terms complete takeover bid “unacceptable.”

by on Oct.24, 2011

Image By: Len Katz

The Chinese deal lined up by Saab CEO Victor Muller appears to have collapsed.

Even as it appears ready to tumble into complete collapse, Saab has rejected a bid by two erstwhile Chinese partners to completely take over the troubled Swedish company.

The decision comes months after Saab negotiated a less extensive alliance with China’s Pang Da and Zhejiang Youngman Lotus – that deal still tied up by Chinese regulators.

The decision to pull back from the Chinese comes at an especially awkward time for Saab.  An administrator last week indicated he would seek to have the carmaker’s court-protected financial reorganization terminated. With its headquarters factory closed and relatively little money available observers believe Saab could be a matter of days away from being forced into insolvency.

Ironically, that could make it possible for one or both of the Chinese companies to seek to purchase what would be left of Saab’s assets, according to several industry observers.

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The breakdown with Pang Da, China’s largest auto retailer, and carmaker Youngman Lotus came about because they had “failed to confirm their commitment” to the agreement announced over the summer and – more notably – had failed to provide desperately needed bridge funding, according to Swedish Auto, the parent of Saab.


Saab May Be Hours From Bankruptcy

Chinese deals appear dead.

by on Oct.11, 2011

A new Saab 9-4X with the 9-5. Production of the latter model has been on hold since late March.

With a pair of Chinese deals apparently ready to collapse, it appears that embattled Swedish automaker Saab may be mere hours away from bankruptcy.

The administrator put in charge of helping Saab reorganize appears to be losing patience as several proposed partnerships fail to materialize for the Swedish marque.  Barring a last-minute breakthrough, Swedish newspapers say he could pull the plug and force Saab into formal bankruptcy, effectively spelling the end for the maker.

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Saab had hoped to turn to two Chinese allies, dealership network Pangda and automaker Zhejiang Youngman Lotus, to generate more than $200 million in much-needed cash – including a $96 million short-term bridge loan.  But the loan has repeatedly been delayed and it appears now that the Chinese government is refusing to authorize the deals because it does not believe Saab can provide the sort of intellectual property the money would justify, according to Svenska Dagbladet.

“We are still expecting the Youngman loan to come in,” insisted spokeswoman Gunilla Gustavs, but the maker has been saying the same thing for weeks.


With $96 Mil in Hand, Saab Hopes to Avoid Bankruptcy

But unpaid workers could push maker into insolvency.

by on Sep.13, 2011

Saab's assembly line has been idled since March due to a supplier boycott.

With a $96 million bridge loan in hand, Saab is desperately hoping to keep itself in business, but it may be too late for the struggling Swedish carmaker, its employees asking the courts to push the brand into bankruptcy.

Saab is asking a Swedish appeals court to reverse last week’s decision by a district judge to reject its reorganization plan – a move that, in Sweden, would give it 90 days to work out a way to pay off its bills.  And it owes a lot of folks money, including not just some of its key suppliers but also 3,700 Swedish employees who weren’t paid last month.

After also experiencing delays in their June and July paychecks, two unions have filed for bankruptcy, something workers are permitted to do in Sweden, though “This is not a situation that any member of Unionen wishes to be in,” Cecilia Fahlberg, chairwoman of one of the two unions, insisted after taking Saab to court.

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The move came hours after Saab found ways to raise $96 million through a complicated deal with Specialty Purpose Vehicle, an apparently newly-formed organization that seems to be linked to one of the Chinese companies, Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile, that has been trying to secure permission to purchase a majority stake in Saab.


Swedish Court Rejects Saab’s Reorganization Bid

Maker to appeal – but is time running out?

by on Sep.08, 2011

Saab is building the new 9-4X but potential customers are still steering clear.

Time – and patience – may be running out for the embattled automaker Saab, a Swedish district court rejecting the maker’s request to go into reorganization, a process that would protect it from workers and others owed millions in cash while it comes up with plans to replenish its coffers.

Saab officials say they intend to appeal the decision by the Vanersborg District Court but observers have begun to believe that the financially strapped maker might now be forced into an involuntary bankruptcy – even though several Chinese companies are themselves waiting for regulatory approval on plans to acquire a majority stake in Saab’s parent, Swedish Automobile.

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“It appears unclear if – and if so when – the relevant Chinese authorities will approve the agreements,” the court said to explain its decision.

Saab has been struggling for a number of years but appeared to get a reprieve in early 2010 when General Motors sold the ailing firm to Swedish Automobile, then known as Spyker Cars.  But it soon became apparent that the new owners were woefully underfunded.  And, in late March, unpaid suppliers began a boycott that forced the maker to idle its headquarters plant in Trollhattan.


Saab Sinking Fast

Maker faces threat of asset seizure.

by on Aug.18, 2011

Photo by Len Katz.

Production of the Saab 9-4X continues but the rest of its line-up is on hold.

Things look great for Saab – at least on paper, the struggling Swedish maker haven’t lined up an assortment of investors promising to pump $100s of millions of dollars into the company – but the reality is far more bleak.

With unpaid suppliers increasing pressure to get Saab to pay the $625,000 they’re owed, the Swedish Enforcement Agency is warning it may begin legally seizing the carmaker’s assets.  That would be a very likely prelude to the collapse of the company, which has been struggling to re-open its headquarters factory in Trollhattan since partsmakers began a boycott in March.

With the factory that produces the flagship 9-5 model, as well as the smaller 9-3 idled, dealers around the world have been running short of product.  And Saab’s coffers continue to drain since its revenue stream begins the moment products roll off the line.

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The company desperately needs a “major automotive partner,” asserts IHS Automotive analyst Aaron Bragmann, but there is no one likely to come to Saab’s rescue at this point, he contends, a position most other analysts echo.


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.