Former Saab chief Victor Muller has expressed hope that an investor can still be found to save the bankrupt Swedish car brand from extinction.
Muller, who personally filed Saab’s application for bankruptcy to Vanesborg district court in Sweden this morning, said, “today was the darkest day in my career, possibly in Saab’s history”.
As jobs of 3500 employees at the Trollhattan plant were thrown into jeopardy, Muller said there was still a chance that Saab might get bought.
Receivers will now be put in place to handle Saab’s affairs, but Swedish law allows companies that are in bankruptcy to be revived if an investor is found. Muller said about five credible approaches about Saab were received during this year, and one of those could show renewed interest.
“Under the new situation of bankruptcy, perhaps another type of scenario could be conceived, one where perhaps no Chinese parties are involved because that seems to be the sensitive element for GM,” he said. “Perhaps Saab can find a new lease of life in a new structure with new ownership.”
A possible investor would have to find an estimated 200 million euros to begin the process of putting Saab back on track, and a deal would hinge on GM being happy with the terms of the arrangement.
Muller blamed GM’s resistance to the deal with potential investor Youngman as the reason why the Chinese company decided to pull out in the early hours of this morning.
Saab’s former owner GM still holds an interest in the company and supplies the Swedish manufacturer with technology for its 9-3 and 9-5 models. As explained in our earlier story, GM was concerned that its intellectual property would end up in Chinese hands if it allowed the deal between Saab and Youngman to go ahead.
Muller believed that he and fellow Saab chiefs had found a compromise where GM’s interests would be ‘firewalled’ from Youngman, so that production of current GM-based products could resume and future new models could be developed as a 50-50 joint venture with the Chinese.
Saab chiefs believed they did not need GM’s approval for this deal to proceed, but during the weekend GM made a public statement that if the deal with Youngman went ahead it would exercise its rights to cancel the licencing agreements that enable Saab to build cars on GM architecture.
“Youngman said ‘we cannot do this, it is simply too risky’ – and they were absolutely right. We have done everything we could do to save this situation but it was impossible to fight the complete ‘no’ attitude of GM. In the end, that brought us down,” said Muller.