In Sweden the last few days have been quieter and there is more fog than ever before over the Saab future. In Trollhättan the hunt for the most competent Saab engineers has begun, and the circle closes. Combitech, formerly Saab-Scania Combitech, is looking for the new development site Trollhättan 200 engineers.
Back to the roots, in a sense, because the origin of the Saab factory is in aviation, and Combitech has been active in aerospace since 1983.
Of the possible Saab buyer Youngman was heard over the holidays nothing, only the state-controlled media of China reported on the last possible opportunity for the Chinese auto industry to acquire a car manufacturer with world renown. Such articles are not without reason in China and are an indication of possible activities.
In the meantime, a new bidder from the People's Republic has appeared for the Saab legacy. Dongfeng Motor Corporation, the third largest automaker in China, is interested in acquiring parts of Saab. It is unlikely that Dongfeng wants to revive the brand, because they are working on establishing their own label, and Saab know-how would be sold out at the right time.
Retired from the Saab circle of interests has meanwhile Pang Da. The largest car dealer in the world, even shaken by losses at the billion-dollar mark due to miscalculated leasing transactions, finally seals off the investment of 45 million euros.
One name that kept flashing during the holidays was Magna. However, even only with the Saab factory as a production location for OEM products, without own Saab production.
In order to facilitate a possible buyer, the supplier association CLEPA proposes a possible state subsidy according to the German model. A kind of short-time working allowance could hold valuable personnel, and the costs for investors would be more bearable. A good idea that was successfully practiced in Germany during the last crisis.
Incidentally, Victor Muller was also involved in negotiations during the Christmas holidays. He had not given up yet, he announced through the press. Maybe, but Muller is no longer a decision maker. Since the bankruptcy petition he accompanies the events in an advisory capacity. The bankruptcy trustee alone makes decisions.
The pressing question for us is who would like to continue the brand. The situation and intentions are not entirely clear, because not every speculator plays with open cards. Youngman is certainly the candidate who would like to continue Saab as a brand, as is the Turkish bidder. Magna maybe. Dongfeng doesn't. So much for the situation we know, with other unnamed parties in the running.
However, there will be no long wait this time. Time is short, and if there is no positive decision in the first two weeks of January, then all that matters is the Resterampe and the sale of some profitable parts and licenses. Each negotiating party has only one litter left, and it has to sit!
Another big player is in Detroit, and there is the final say on whether Saab production in Sweden will be running again in 2012. GM also feeds the local press with information and has issued the “A - B - C” slogan. In plain language "A - B - C = Anyone, but Chinese" refers to the goodwill of the Americans for the possible licensing.
For Magna a possible green light, for Youngman possibly the big red stop sign.
What do we learn from this? Economy is war, even at Christmas time.