Swedish Automobile N.V. (SWAN) and Saab Automobile AB (Saab Automobile) today announced the signing of ﬁnal agreements with Pang Da Automobile Trade Co., Ltd. (Pang Da) and Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co., Ltd. (Youngman), thereby converting the non-binding memorandum of understanding relating to the equity investment of Pang Da and Youngman …
The amount of the investment is €245 million, which amounts to this, according to Saab (some proofreading changes by me):
The agreements allow for the return of Mr Vladimir Antonov as a shareholder–ﬁnancier of SWAN and Saab Automobile which the parties expect as soon as the parties at interest have cleared him. The NPJV will be 50 per cent owned by Saab Automobile and 50 per cent by Youngman Passenger Car, and forms the foundation for an expansion of the Saab product portfolio with three models which, until now, did not form part of Saab Automobile’s current and future product portfolio. As such the NPJV will focus on developing three completely new Saab vehicles: the Saab 9-1, Saab 9-6X and Saab 9-7.
No doubt there will be existing technology in the three cars, and they should go down terriﬁcally in China. And if it all goes well, this means that Saab won’t follow MG Rover down the gurgler, despite having been unable to pay wages a few weeks ago.
But €245 million isn’t that much in today’s world, especially since Saab can’t be breaking even at its present capacity.
I don’t want to see Saab disappear. It may have been the choice of TV villains (Leslie Grantham in both The Paradise Club and 99–1 comes to mind) as well as one or two real-life ones I can think of, but it’s a storied brand and it’s made good cars over the years. And a mate of mine has a 900, too.
Sweden hasn’t spent all these years bagging the brand, either—it was effectively stripped of its Saab-ness while under General Motors.
Let’s hope the company can get things right with the Chinese equity stake, which hopefully will provide more conﬁdence. It’ll open up distribution in China, providing the government agencies agree, where a foreign brand like Saab would go down immensely well, and just at the right time. Good timing was not something that MG Rover was blessed with, regardless of the actions of the Phoenix Four.
The discerning Chinese buyer is emerging on the mainland, and they don’t necessarily want the ﬂash of the Mercedes-Benz. A more subtle brand might work there, and Saab actually ﬁts the bill.
The 9-7, I assume, is a large car, and Youngman’s Pang Qingnian hints that not only will China get this model, but the US as well.
Good luck to the parties on this one—here’s hoping the worst is over.