He is clearly my favorite journalist from the land of the midnight sun. Jonas Fröberg has been with Saab for a very long time. He witnessed the sale of GM to Spyker first hand and wrote a book about it. He has followed and commented on the Muller era, reconstruction and bankruptcy. In his “Perspective” column in Svenska Dagbladet today, Fröberg addresses the question of how Muller and Lofalk could become enemies.
If you ask one of them about the true course of events in the last year, you will get completely different versions. One is not smarter, according to Fröberg's article, because he does not write anything we do not already know. But we begin to understand, because he sums it up.
The reason for the failure of both opponents lies in China, so the article. But let's read what Fröberg says. In early September, writes Fröberg, Saab had no money but a contract with Lotus Youngman and Pang Da. The Chinese wanted to pay 54 billion in Saab 2.2 for a XNUMX%. According to Muller, this was agreed with GM, also in terms of technology licenses. Questionable only, whether it was really blessed at the highest point.
Then came the reconstruction and the point where everything started to go horribly wrong. To complete the reconstruction, Lotus-Youngman 70 should pay millions of dollars to Saab for parts of the PhoeniX platform. But there was no money, because Youngman could not convince the NDRC. The technology transfer to China was the authority too little, the funds were missing. In addition came, so Fröberg, cultural differences and Chinese grudge against Muller. The Saab CEO had kicked Youngman out in the spring, even though the contracts had come a long way and sought another Chinese partner. (We remember the disaster with Hawtai ...).
The weeks passed, there was still no money, and suddenly everything happened quickly. Lofalk took the initiative - too hastily, according to Muller. Absolutely necessary according to Lofalk.
In rapid succession, two bombs exploded. Suddenly, Geely was interested in Saab, and Lofalk visited the Ministry of Finance together with skin panel owner Li Shufu. Muller got angry, refused, and Lofalk traveled to Beijing to solve Youngman's problem with the NDRC.
Bomb number two fired Lotus Youngman and Pang Da. They wanted to take 100% from SWAN to Saab, at a fraction of the original price. Muller struck back. Because that would have meant that he would lose power. He wrote a desperate mail to Rachel Pang warning that GM would never accept this deal.
It came to the impression that the Swedish government wanted to get rid of Muller. Lofalk should convey. Lofalk refused. Then it was suggested that Youngman should buy Saab at 100%. Meanwhile, the gap between Lofalk and Muller was several miles deep, the killing no longer kitten.
On the 21. October announced Lofalk to cancel the reconstruction. Because there was still no money.
There were new marathon negotiations between Muller and Youngman. Under extreme pressure, everything went smoothly over the stage and on the 30. In October, a visibly relieved Guy Lofalk was able to present an 100% sale to the Chinese in front of the District Court in Vänersborg.
The relationship between the two was extremely bad at the time. Muller kept his professional façade upright, but who wanted, he could see the cracks. Because Muller was not thrilled to lose the company to Youngman and Pang Da.
GM refused the deal. Muller said that was Lofalk's mistake. Lofalk said that even Muller's approach was wrong, GM would not have accepted his first solution. On the 7. December Lofalk asked for his replacement and after several dramas, the story ended in bankruptcy.
On Tuesday, both opponents met in court. They paid no attention to each other.
Lofalk has earned 10 millions of crowns at Saab. The question is whether it was worth it, asks Jonas Fröberg.
The question could really be asked. It is true that not Loflak, but its law firm has earned the 10 crowns millions. But the price is high. Whether GM has really agreed to the 54% sale, as Muller claims, we'll probably never know.
In the end there were only losers. Lofalk has lost a lot of reputation, a dream is bursting for Muller and the great difficulties and after-effects are only just beginning. GM has lost an OEM customer, many thousands of employees have lost their jobs. And the Chinese lost money. Maybe even more. Maybe the chance to buy a traditional European manufacturer. If the administrators decide against China, then Beijing has gambled too much. We'll know more in a few weeks.