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Despite the tragic demise of the Saab brand, former Saab CEO Victor Muller isn’t going to quit just yet.
Victor Muller elaborated upon the proclamation and revealed details to keep Spyker Cars, the Dutch hand-made supercar marque that put him on the automotive map. “I’m excited to get back into this business,” said Muller, adding that he has already put most of the liabilities incurred during the Saab fiasco behind him. Cash and finances will now be dedicated to restoring Spyker.
What’s more, Russian business partner Vladimir Antonov invested a significant amount into Saab and Spyker during its most turbulent period. Now, Muller is happy to say that Antonov is “out of the picture” entirely, suggesting more freedom for Muller to run his business. He ambitiously suggests the expansion of the Spyker line-up as well, which had never produced more than 100 vehicles a year.
Letting out a sigh at the mention of Saab, Muller hinted that Saab isn’t through with all nine of its lives. Some reports have indicated the possibility of several potential investors that could revive the Swedish brand. Unfortunately, the speed bump is dealing with intellectual properties from GM that are found within the 9-5 and 9-4X models. In any case, Saab is no longer Muller’s problem.
[Source: The Detroit Bureau]
Bold and ambitious, Victor Muller founded Spyker Swedish exotic sports cars before purchasing Saab, believing in its return to past glory under his leadership. Confident in his abilities, Muller’s gamble on Saab put Spyker in danger as well.
Following Saab’s devastating bankruptcy, Swedish Automobile N.V. (Swan for short, formerly Spyker Cars N.V.) have announced that there are talks on the possible sale of Spyker as well. On the other hand, if Swan chooses to keep Spyker, then the company faces the difficult challenge of securing funds. However, if Swan is unable to raise capital or if a suitable buyer cannot be found, Spyker will likely suffer an unfortunate fate similar to Saab.
Plans to sell Spyker were hinted in the past as financial firms CPP Global Holdings and North Street Capital showed interest in the Swedish boutique automaker. But, inexplicably, both deals fell apart without any statements issued or information disclosed. Meanwhile, Spyker is also carrying debt held by Tenaci Capital BV, controlled by Victor Muller himself and wealthy Russian, Vladimir Antonov. Making matters even more serious, four of Swan’s supervisory and management board members, Hans Hugenholtz, Maurizia La Noce, Alex Roepers, and Rob Schuijt have resigned after disagreements with Victor Muller. Seeking nothing less than a Hail Mary pass, Swan issued 2.5 million shares to seek more investors. Despite the effort, existing shares of Swan have fallen to €0.22.
While the Spyker was never a popular marque, its sports cars are a celebration of spirited driving, luxury, and attention to the smallest detail. As time and money runs dry, we may soon witness the end to Spyker’s brilliant and short existence.
Another week and another sob story regarding Saab. The troubled automaker has just applied for protection from creditors, and is trying to avoid the bankruptcy petition made by the unions.
A once thriving manufacturer that made fighter aircraft, trucks and automobiles, the auto division of this 65 year-old company has been struggling ever since General Motors decided to liquidate its Swedish arm.
In 2009, Saab was bought out by Spyker Cars NV of Holland for $400-million. Since the take-over, Saab has struggled to keep the production line going and the much anticipated new 9-5 model has thus had trouble hitting the market place.
With creditors constantly breathing down Saab’s neck to get paid, Saab has filed for protection against creditors, so it can try to once again raise money and restart operations.
Saab CEO Victor Muller said in a statement; “A voluntary reorganization process will provide us with the necessary time, protection and stabilization.”
The plants in Trollhaettan have been quiet since June of this year. With suppliers losing confidence and workers waiting to get paid, it will take a miracle for Saab to get going again and to start making profit.
Having just signed a deal with two Chinese partners, Saab chief Victor Muller has immediately shown he knows how to work the media. Rather than sit quietly, Muller has already announced plans to build three new models, while a new joint-venture arrangement secures medium-term funding for the production of Saabs current lineup.
Two of the three new models will be larger, perhaps designed specifically for the Chinese market where luxury automakers like BMW and Mercedes currently sell stretched versions of their 5 Series and E-Class platforms. Their names: the 9-6 and 9-7
The final car is the much talked-about 9-1, a smaller vehicle (rendered above). “We will now be able to develop a small entry-level Saab, a car that has long been on the top of our wish list,” said Muller in a statement.
Funding for the projects will come from both Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile and distributor Pang Da Automobile which recently purchased a $356 million 51% stake in Saab.
Saab appears to have yet again found a savior in China, announcing a joint venture with Pangda Automobile Trade Co., the largest distributor of vehicles in the world’s largest car market.
The deal will see Pangda purchase 30 million Euros ($42.5 million) in Saab vehicles, with a second purchase of 15 million Euros ($21 million) to follow. Later on, Pangda will provide 65 million Euros ($92 million) in funding, resulting in a 24 percent equity stake in the Swedish automaker. These investments solve Saab’s cash flow problems for the immediate future and will be enough to get production back on line.
Several other proposals with Chinese partners in the past few weeks have fallen through, reportedly due to a lack of approval by the Chinese government. According to Saab/Spyker CEO Victor Muller, the deal with Pangda should go much more smoothly as it is not a car manufacturer, but a distributor, and therefore the same strict rules do not apply. Last week a deal with China’s Hawtai fell through while rumored talks with another automaker, Great Wall, were later denied.
It might start to be a real sob story over at Saab, if the Swedish automaker can’t find a partner to help finance operations and help get production restarted. News of a most recent deal with Chinese automaker Great Wall might be little more than a rumor, with the Associated Press now reporting a Great Wall representative is denying any talks between the two automakers.
Last week Saab announced a deal with Hawtai Motor Group, another Chinese automaker, with a $222 million investment. Several days later Saab said it was “forced to terminate” the contract because certain Hawtai investors were unwilling to commit. The two automakers are continuing to hold talks, although not exclusively.
Saab and Spyker CEO Victor Muller is currently in China wooing potential investors, a list that has now grown to include China Youngman Automobile Group, Co., which currently imports Lotus vehicles into China.
With severe clashflow problems, Saab was forced to halt production on April 6th and has been eagerly pursuing financial suitors since then in an effort to get the assembly line back up and running.
Saab’s partnership with Chinese automaker Hawtai could see the ill-fated Swedish luxury brand use its dealer network to sell cheap Chinese cars in America, with some priced at the magic $10,000 mark.
“We laughed when the Japanese came,” Victor Muller, Saab’s chairman, told Automotive News. “We laughed when the Koreans came. But we will not be laughing when the Chinese come. The Chinese are like a steamroller.”
Saab recently signed a joint venture deal with Hawtai Motor Group that covers distribution, manufacturing and technology sharing. Muller was reluctant to confirm that Hawtai would use Saab’s distribution network, but did say that it’s a tempting prospect for the automaker. Muller also said that Saab could sell a cheap, well-equipped Chinese car, with the caveat that it would not meet 5-star crash protection requirements.
[Source: Automotive News]
Saab is hitting the road in an effort to promote its new financial backers, but the road show will have to wait for approval from several authorities who must approve Saab’s transactions with China’s Hawtai Motor Group and Russian financier Vladimir Antonov.
CEO Victor Muller will target major media events and car shows in an effort to demonstrates Saab’s newfound vitality. But Saab was tentative on whether Antonov would be a part of the program.
“If and when Antonov gets involved, we want to include him,” Michele Tinson, a spokesman for Saab Cars North America, told Automotive News. “We want people to meet him and know who he is. Obviously we want to include our Chinese joint-venture partners as well in our tour.”
Saab’s American dealer network held a conference call to discuss dealer issues and the deal with Hawtai. According to Saab National Dealer Council chairman Kurt Schirm, Muller will be targeting major media outlets during his American stops.
[Source: Automotive News]
Saab has halted production yet again amid another dispute with suppliers. Saab representatives declined to say how long the production stoppage would last, but said that they were in discussions with their suppliers to resolve the matter. Saab’s parent company Spyker said that last week’s production stoppage was related to unpaid bills.
In an interview with Reuters, the head of Sweden’s suppliers organization said that Saab cannot pay its suppliers. Meanwhile, Saab CEO Victor Muller defended his company, stating that they were not on the verge of collapse, but that more stoppages were inevitable. “This is an ongoing thing,” he said. “It will take some time to get everyone back in line properly. We will get it under control.”
[Source: Automotive News]
After a tiff with suppliers who had halted their parts deliveries, Saab has now resumed production at its main factory.
Like a deadbeat dad, Saab had stopped paying their suppliers. But the company had an excuse, and a potential solution: after their sales plummeted for the last few years, they appealed to former Spyker chairman Vladimir Antonov for an investment worth $140 million. Spyker CEO Victor Muller plans to sell his sports car company to Antonov, and the European Investment Bank is loaning $563 million to Saab to continue keeping them afloat.
The return of Antonov hasn’t been without its own drama, however: Antonov has been investigated for his ties to the Russian mafia, and his return must be met with the approval of the EIB. ”It’s in the interest of the company to have him back in,” said Muller. “What we want is a backup situation in the event we would need the money. We need to have a bigger buffer.” Hence, the dispute with the suppliers.
“We can’t continue to deliver to [Saab] if they don’t pay us in full,” said spokesman Pierre Olsson for DB Schenker, a German supplier. The company, along with others, are meeting with Saab to settle the dispute in the hopes that Saab can match their sales target of 120,000 cars this year and become profitable by the next.
[Source: The Detroit News]
Saab CEO Jan Ake Jonsson will retire from Saab on May 19th, with the 59 year old executive leaving Saab during a tumultuous time. Saab Chairman Victor Muller will act as interim CEO as a search for a replacement gets underway.
Jonsson, who was reportedly planning to retire regardless of the situation, will assist with the personnel changes and be available to Saab until September 1st. Jonsson, who worked for Saab for nearly 40 years, released a statement, that read”The last three years have of course been very demanding and forced me to focus on one thing only — my work. Now it is time for me to also spend some time on other things that had to stand back for my duties to Saab. I am convinced that Saab is on the right track toward replacing the entire product portfolio by October 2012 — when the next generation 9-3 will be launched — as well as creating a stand-alone company with a financially sound business model.”
Saab sales were up 15 percent in 2010, and parent company Spyker expects the division to be profitable by 2012.
[Source: Automotive News]
Russian billionaire Vladamir Antanov isn’t done with Saab yet. Forced out of the Saab deal when General Motors sold off the Swedish automaker to Spyker, he recently re-acquired the Spkyer brand from the combined Saab Spyker Automobiles through a British coachbuilder he’s heavily invested in.
Now Antanov is stirring up trouble suggesting Saab might miss its sales target of 80,000 vehicles. In a recent interview with Swedish newspaper Dagens Industi, he said that Saab was more likely to achieve sales of 60,000 to 65,000 units for 2011.
Saab boss and Spyker founder Victor Muller has fought back, claiming that the original sales targets would in fact be met.
Antanov then went on to cast doubt on Spyker’s financing, commenting that without the current loan from the European Investment Bank Saab could go bankrupt in, “just a few days.”
But why would the EIB refuse the loan? It’s not a stretch to suggest that Antanov wants back in, and a change in ownership or control would require both the EIB and the Swedish government to sign off on the deal – and both parties might have a problem with Antanov’s alleged ties to the Russian mafia. Conveniently, Antanov happens to be well funded and could front some of the necessary funds, but even he admits coming up with enough to pay back the loan would require additional partners.
Saab‘s proposed 92 small premium model could ride on a BMW platform say recent reports. According to Swedish outlet Dagens Industri BMW and Saab are holding talks on sharing both platforms and engines.
Saab CEO Victor Muller has commented that his company is in talks with several other automakers over sharing technology for the new 92 model. Presumably this new platform would be the new BMW front-drive setup designed for the next-generation MINI and BMW 1 Series. As the Saab 92 would, however, be a competitor (thought a minor one) for the new MINI and 1 Series then it’s possible that BMW is looking to sell Saab the current MINI underpinnings.
In addition talks between Saab and BMW are reported to include a new small diesel engine that Saab would use to power its coming 9-4X midsize crossover.
[Source: Automotive News]
Saab will decide within the next 100 days if it will move ahead with plans to introduce a small premium 92 model to compete with vehicles like the MINI Cooper, Audi A1, BMW 1 Series and Mercedes B Class.
Company CEO Victor Muller gave more details on the still conceptual model, commenting that while it would have a teardrop shape like the original 92, it would not be retro-style. “We hate retro at Saab,” said Muller. The plan would be to sell between 30,000 and 60,000 units per year, with models costing roughly 10 percent more than comparable MINIs. There are even plans to offer a hybrid option in the future.
Muller has admitted that Saab is currently in talks with other automakers over the project as it is believed the automaker will either purchase an existing platform or work with another automaker to develop an all-new platform in order to make the 92 a reality.
Muller also commented that if the project gets the green light, a 2014 launch date is most probable.
Saab/Spyker CEO Victor Muller has confirmed that select Saab dealerships will sell exotic models from the Dutch sports car maker. In an interview with Bloomberg, Muller commented that Spyker will look to expand its dealership network (made mostly of exotic car dealerships like Bentley) from 35 to 60 this year. The plan is to then increase that number to 90 Spyker dealerships worldwide by the end of 2011.
Spyker’s latest model is the C8 Aileron, which makes 400-hp and can hit 62-mph in just 4.5 seconds.
In addition Muller commented that future Spyker models, known for their bespoke nature (and Audi-sourced engines), will begin using Saab parts and Saab engineering.
Earlier this year, Spyker purchased the Saab brand from General Motors, saving the Swedish automaker from liquidation.
GALLERY: Spyker C8 Aileron
Rumors have floated around about Saab‘s planned 9-2 MINI competitor, but now company CEO Victor Muller has confirmed the Swedish automaker is in talks with other manufacturers about the project. Muller told Bloomberg that Saab is looking to work with another automaker over technology to develop a new small car platform for the 9-2.
It’s not yet clear if Saab will simply purchase an existing platform from another automaker or if it intends to work together to co-develop a platform with a company that also has aspirations of taking on models like the MINI and Audi A1.
Muller has commented in the past that he is excited about brining a new entry-level model to the Saab brand that would draw inspiration from the original Saab, the 92. It would even take design cues from the original, including its teardrop shape.
The sale of Saab to Spyker was delayed due to suspicions that one of the Dutch exotic car maker’s major shareholders had ties to the Russian mafia. According to a recent report by Swedish newspaper Dagens Industri, the Swedish security force Sapo investigated former Spyker shareholder Alexander Antonov and determined that there was “strong suspicion” of ties to organized crime.
That information was then relayed to the FBI, and on to the U.S. government, which essentially told General Motors to put a hold on the sale.
Not long after, Antonov and his investment firm Convers Group, sold back $4.6 million in shares to CEO Victor Muller, paving the way for a new bid, which was successful.
Neither General Motors, nor Spyker have made any official comment on the matter.
[Source: Dagens Industri via Fox News]
Spyker CEO says he'd like to see Saab Aero X Concept become a reality
Later this week General Motors is expected to pronounce on the fate of its loss-making Swedish unit, with a potential purchase by Dutch exotic car maker Spyker still a possibility. In an interview with AOL Autos, Spyker CEO Victor Muller discussed many of his plans to rejuvenate Saab, as well as another plan to sell his company’s high-priced exotics through Saab dealerships.
Currently Spyker models like the 400-hp C8 Aileron (above) sell for close to $300,000 and can be bought through certain Bentley and Lamborghini dealerships. Future Spyker models might also benefit from the purchase by using a version of Saab’s impressive all-wheel drive setup. In return, Muller hopes to maintain Saab’s dealership network of 218 showrooms.
As for the Saab product line, Muller wants to concentrate on the 9-3, 9-4x crossover and 2010 9-5. He dismissed the possibility of an entry-level 9-1 model, but did say that he’d love to see a production version of the Aero X concept finally make it to market. And with Saab’s low volume exotic car experience, Spyker might just be the company to make this a possibility.
A decision by General Motors on the future of Saab is expected this Wednesday, January 7th.
[Source: AOL Autos]
Spyker CEO says GM has responded to offer and that European Investment Bank will need to play a role
There are almost too many stories and rumors about Swedish automaker Saab to keep up with, as the latest reports suggest not one but two Dutch billionaires are involved in a new deal that would see Spyker purchase the loss-making division from General Motors.
Dutch business daily Het Financieele Dagblad suggests Dutch media tycoon John de Mol, who listed in the 2005 Forbes magazine wealthiest 500 people in the world issue, is the secret backer. De Mol, who owns production company Endemol with Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, as well as parts of telecommunications company Versatel and a part of Manchester United, also used to own one third of Spyker but sold his shares off several years ago.
The other rumored investor is another Dutch billionaire, Marcel Boekhoorn, who currently owns a 5.7 percent stake in Spyker.
Regardless of who is investing, the more important issue seems to be who is not, as Spyker’s 11th hour proposal is reported to have only been acknowledge by GM as it didn’t include Spyker’s Russian investors. Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet, reported that Russian investors Vladimir and Alexander Antonov, who own a 29.3 percent stake in Spyker, are no longer a part of the Spyker purchase.
General Motors feared Russian involvement as it believed the Russians might utilize Saab technology for other ventures in Russia – a market which GM sees as emerging and which it wants for itself.
With Dutch backers reportedly piling on and Russian ones leaving, Saab may be saved yet. However, according to a recent Bloomberg report, Spyker will still need to secure a significant loan from the European Investment Bank; likely in the absence of the Russian funds. Spyker CEO Victor Muller said as much, commenting that the EIB would need to get involved but the General Motors has looked at Spyker’s new proposal and that the two parties are talking and looking to find a solution that would save Saab.
Those digging the grave for Saab might want to put their shovels down after Spyker Cars has submitted a new proposal to purchase the Swedish automaker from General Motors. On Friday GM announced that a deal could not be reached and said it would begin an orderly wind down for Saab.
According to Spyker CEO Victor Muller, his company’s new 11-point proposal would eliminate the obstacles that GM sees as making a speedy sale possible. “We are very confident that our renewed offer will remove the impasse that was standing in the way of an agreement on Friday, and this would still allow us to conclude the deal prior to the expiry of the deadline originally set by GM of December 31,” said Muller, commenting that the new proposal would eliminate the need for the European Investment Bank to get involved. Assumedly, this would mean that Dutch exotic car maker Spyker would raise funds by selling shares to its Russian backers.
General Motors has been mostly quiet on the offer, saying simply in a statement that, “Following Friday’s announcement that GM will begin the orderly wind down of Saab, GM has received inquiries from several parties. We will evaluate each inquiry.”
If a deal is reached it would not only save the jobs of 3,400 employees in Sweden, but those at the Swedish automaker’s numerous international dealerships – including 218 in the United States.
[Source: Automotive News]