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Another Saab Shake-Up as Maker Reports $300 Million Loss

Replacement for CEO Jonsson sought as Swedish maker predicts possible profit for 2012.

by on Mar.25, 2011

Image By: Len Katz

Saab Chairman Victor Muller will take on temporary CEO duties, as well.

Saab’s CEO Jan-Aake Jonsson will step down, in May, leaving the Swedish maker to find a new chief executive amidst its efforts to turn its fortunes around.

Victor Muller, the Dutch entrepreneur who led the takeover of Saab from former owner General Motors Corp., will temporarily take on CEO duties while a search gets underway to replace the 60-year-old Jonsson, who had been with Saab for 40 years.

During a conference call with reporters, Saab’s new parent, Amsterdam-based Spyker Cars NV, announced that its struggling subsidiary lost 218 million Euros, or $308 million, during 2010.  But that’s down from a 400 million Euro loss in 2009, while Saab was still owned by General Motors.

Saab sales declined about 19%, however, from 1 billion Euros during the last year under GM to 819 million Euros under Spyker’s command.

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But that reflects the challenges the new owners faced after taking control.  Before approving the Spyker bid GM had begun ramping down operations at the Swedish company and it took nearly two months, after the sale, for Saab’s assembly plant in Trollhatten to restart.

Critically, the company says sales started rebounding during the fourth quarter, when global volumes hit 10,000.  The maker insists the trend is moving favorably and should continue to gain momentum with the May launch of Saab’s new 9-4X, its first sport-utility vehicle.